If you have a Google account of any sort, such as Gmail, an
Android phone or
tablet, and so on, you can access Google Calendar.
This web-based calendar can be accessed from practically any computer or mobile device with an internet connection, and you can sync your Google Calendar with your iPhone and many other calendar apps.
However, you can go way beyond merely typing in the details of an appointment. For example, did you know you can add events to Calendar simply by speaking them? It works on both the PC and mobile phone. You can add extra calendars (including other people’s) and these also appear on your phone.
Some of the advanced features, such as the Labs extras, are only available through a browser on a PC or Mac. One of the nice things about Google Calendar is that it is widely supported and you can invite Microsoft calendar users to events and respond to invitations to events in their calendar. Let’s see how to make Google Calendar even better with these 11 features you never knew existed.
How to configure Google Calendar and add extra features
1. Google Calendar can show multiple calendars. Click the button next to Other calendars in the left panel and select ‘Browse interesting holidays’. Subscribe to ‘Holidays in the United Kingdom’ or follow the sport link to your favourite football team and add match dates.
2. You can add a background image to make the display more interesting. Go to the gear menu, Labs, and enable ‘Background image’. Go to General in Calendar settings and find ‘Calendar background’. Click ‘Choose image’ and select your favourite photograph.
3. Anyone that travels with a laptop will occasionally find themselves without an internet connection, which means Calendar is unavailable. The solution is to set up Calendar for offline use. Select Offline on the gear menu and install it from the Chrome Web Store.
4. After adding offline capabilities in case you don’t have an internet connection, go to the gear icon, Settings and click Offline. Calendar can work with multiple calendars such as work and person, UK holidays and so on. Select the ones to use offline.
5. Meetings and appointments don’t take place at 3am, so why show these times on the calendar? Click Labs on the gear menu and select Enable next to ‘Hide morning and night’. Return to the calendar day view and click 00:00 to 07:00 to hide these times.
6. Calendar has day, week and month views, but what if you want to look further ahead? Go to Labs on the gear menu and enable ‘Year view’. Click the arrow at the right edge to show the right panel if it is hidden and click Go under Year view.
7. If you have Google Calendar you also have Gmail and this enables users of other calendars, such as Outlook.com or Windows 8 Calendar to invite you. They just add you as an attendee using your Gmail address. Click Yes to add the event to your calendar.
8. This works in reverse too, and you can invite both Google Calendar users and Oulook.com or Windows Calendar users to events. When creating an event, just enter their email addresses in the ‘Add guests’ box on the right-hand side of the page.
Although it is easy to find out the time in another country using Google, if you frequently have Calendar open, add time zone clocks to the display. Go to the gear menu, Labs and enable ‘World clocks’. Open the left panel and click settings to add clocks.
10. Why type in appointments when you can speak them? Click the microphone icon in the search box on the Google home page and simply say what you want. You’ll see the text on the screen and afterwards you just confirm that it is correct to add it to Calendar.
11. Calendar can notify you when events change or are about to happen so you are prepared. Click the gear and select Settings, Calendars. Click ‘Reminders and notifications’ next to a calendar and then tick the options for email and SMS. The daily agenda is a useful option.