If you want to allow others to access your calendar, you can either share it or publish it. What is the difference and which is best? How do you hide personal calendar items with Outlook?
If you use Outlook Calendar for scheduling appointments, meetings and other events, you might want to share them with others so that they can see what is happening and when. You might want a work calendar that co-workers can see when you are in, out or busy. You may want a personal calendar that family or friends can see and use to play events.
Shared calendars are useful in many ways. Are you using them? Here is how to separate events in calendars, how to share calendars and how to publish them. This is all done using a free Microsoft Outlook.com email/calendar account in a web browser. It will work with an Office 365 subscription, but you do not need to pay for these features, they are free.
Being browser-based, it does not matter whether you have a PC, Mac, Linux or Chromebook, Outlook Calendar works on all of them. There are apps for iPhone and Android phone and calendars and events you create at outlook.com appear on your phone.
Share an Outlook calendar
1 Outlook Calendars
Go to outlook.com in a web browser and click the calendar icon in the sidebar to switch from email to calendar. There is always a default calendar available and it is automatically used for everything, including work and personal events and appointments.
You can share or publish the default calendar if you want to, but do you really want other people to be able to see everything in it? It is useful to create a separate calendar for sharing, such as for work colleagues, family and friends or whoever you want to share it with. Click Add calendar in the sidebar.
2 Create a calendar in Outlook
Select Create blank calendar in the sidebar and you can enter a name for it at the top. I called mine Shared, but it can be called anything you want, like Bob’s Family, Sales Team, Golf Club Events and so on. Make it descriptive.
Choose a color. It will be used for events added to this calendar. When looking at your Outlook calendar you will be able to see at a glance which calendar an event is in from the color. Choose a charm, one of the icons. It is just another visual clue as to what a calendar is used for. Save it.
3 Add an event to a calendar
Now there is more than one calendar, so when an event is added, which calendar is it added to? In the new event form, the calendar it is to be added to is selected from a menu in the top left corner. All your calendars are listed here and the one you want can be selected. The color used is the one selected for the calendar and this makes it easy to tell you are adding an event to the right calendar.
4 View calendar events
Here you can see the new calendar in the sidebar. Click the colored tick to show or hide that calendar’s events. All are enabled here and you can see both blue default calendar events and events in the new green calendar that was created. I called it Shared because I am going to share it and the name is just a reminder to me. It could be called anything.
5 View calendar options
Move the mouse over a calendar in the sidebar and click the three dots to show the menu. Here you can change the name, color or charm or even remove (delete) it. What we want to do is share the calendar with other people. Click Sharing and permissions.
6 Invite others to an Outlook calendar
An Outlook calendar can be shared with anyone who has a Microsoft account. They do not need to be a Windows user and Apple Mac users with a Microsoft account, can be invited. A free account is all that is needed and you don’t have to be an Office 365 subscriber. This method of sharing a calendar will not work if the person does not have a Microsoft account). We will see a different method of sharing calendars with them a bit later on.
Enter an email address. If the person is in your contacts, they will be suggested, which makes it even easier, just click them to add them.
Only the selected calendar is shared and other calendars remain private. You can have both private and public calendar events by choosing which calendar they are added to.
7 Set calendar sharing permissions
After entering the person’s email address, you can then choose whether the person will be able to edit events in this calendar or just view them. As the calendar creator, you can do anything, but do you want others to be able to create, change or delete events? It is up to you.
8 View calendar shares
All the people this calendar is shared with are listed and they can be removed by clicking the bin on the right or more can be added by entering an email address or name at the top. Close the window when you are done. Emails are automatically sent to new people added to the sharing list.
9 Respond to Outlook calendar invitations
This is what it looks like to receive an invitation to a shared Outlook calendar. All you need to do is to click the button to accept. A web browser window opens and automatically goes to Outlook calendar on the web. This only works if the recipient has a Microsoft account. If they don’t, they are prompted to sign up for one.
What if the person does not have a Microsoft account and does not want one? A calendar can be made available for anyone whether they have a Microsoft account or not. Instead of inviting people to share a calendar, you publish it instead.
Publish an Outlook calendar
10 Outlook calendar options
Click the gear icon in the top right corner of the Outlook Calendar in the web browser window and then click View all Outlook settings at the bottom of the panel. Select Calendar in the first column and Shared calendars in the second column. In the third column is Publish a calendar. Click Select a calendar and then click Shared or whatever you named your calendar.
When a calendar is shared, other people with a Microsoft account can access it. When a calendar is published, anyone can access it. Let’s see how to share a Microsoft Outlook calendar with a Google Calendar user.
11 Published calendar permissions
There are more limitations with published calendars and no-one is allowed to edit, create or delete events. This is strictly view only. However, it can still be useful. There are two permission options and you can simply let people know when you are busy, which can be useful in some circumstances, or you can let them see all the details, like events and appointments. It is up to you.
12 HTML vs ICS calendar links
After clicking the Publish button, two links are displayed, HTML and ICS. The HTML link can be pasted into the URL box of a browser, sent via messaging or email, shown on a web page and so on. A web browser shows the calendar and the events in it. If you run a club that has events, you could put the link on the club website so everyone could see the upcoming events in the calendar.
The ICS link can be added to a calendar and it is a general format that works with any calendar. Copy the ICS link. We will add it to Google Calendar, but other calendar apps or websites work in a similar way.
13 Add a calendar to Google Calendar
Open calendar.google.com, move the mouse over Other calendars and click the three dots to show the menu. Select From URL in the menu that is displayed.
14 Add ICS files to Google Calendar
Click in the From URL box and press Ctrl+V (PC) or Cmd+V (Mac) to paste the ICS link. Click Add calendar and the Outlook calendar is added. You now have Google Calendar and an Outlook calendar showing.
15 Customize the calendar
Use the checkbox to hide or show a calendar’s events, mouse over and click the three dots to show a menu and then select a color or click Settings. Rename the calendar in the settings because it the filename is used, which is meaningless.
The advantage of the ICS file is that events in the shared calendar appear in your own calendar, which is useful when you are planning things and it makes it easier to avoid clashes with event times and days. Updates, such as new events being added, are handled automatically.
Publishing a calendar makes it available to anyone who knows the URL. It cannot be guessed because it is too long and complicated, but if you share the URL with someone, they could then share it with someone else who then shares it on social media or somewhere. A published calendar could become public. Remember this when adding events to it and don’t add anything private.
Some people and companies make calendars for the public to use and they are shared as ICS files. In fact, when adding the shared calendar to Google Calendar, you may have noticed options to add public calendars, like sporting events, public holidays and so on.