Collaborating on Calendars: The Google Calendar

Most computer users today have embraced keeping their schedules on their PCs. Not that the old-fashioned wall-hanging calendar is dead, it’s just that it’s a whole lot easier to track appointments and events electronically; the computer does all the busywork for you. The problem, however, with using calendar software (such as Microsoft Outlook or Windows Calendar) is that all your appointments have to reside on a single computer. If you keep a personal calendar on your home PC, you can’t reference it from work or when you’re traveling. That limits the calculator program’s usefulness.

That’s why, instead of using a calendar that’s wedded to a single computer, many users are moving to web-based calendars. A web-based calendar service stores your calendars on the Internet, where they can be accessed from any computer that has an Internet connection. This lets you check your schedule when you’re on the road, even if your assistant in the office or your spouse at home has added new appointments since you left. Web-based calendars are also extremely easy to share with other users in any location, which make them great for collaborative projects.

 Google Calendar

The most popular web-based calendar today, no doubt due to its association with the web’s most-used search engine, is Google Calendar ( Google Calendar is free, full featured, and easy to use. It lets you create both personal and shared calendars, which makes it ideal for tracking business group, family, and community schedules.

 As you can see in the illustration, Google Calendar looks pretty much like every other calendar you’ve ever seen. You enter your appointments (which Google calls “events”) directly into the calendar, which you can display in either daily, weekly, or monthly views. You can also, if you like, view your weekly agenda on a single page.

Like all web-based calendars, all your events are stored in the cloud (in this case, the cloud created by Google’s own network of servers), not on your own computer. This means that you can access your calendar from any computer anywhere in the world. Just log in to the Google Calendar page and your calendar and all events are there.
Because Google Calendar is web based, you can use it to create not only a private calendar for yourself, but also public calendars for your company or organization. Create a public calendar and all employees or attendees can access it via the web. In addition, special event invitation features make it easy to invite others to an event—public or private. In addition, Google allows you to create several different—and different types of—calendars. You can create one calendar for home, another for work, and yet another for your son’s soccer team. Then you can view all your calendars from the same Google Calendar page, with the events from each calendar color-coded for easy visibility.
What types of calendars can you create with Google Calendar? Here’s the list:
Personal calendars, like your default calendar
Public calendars, which others can access via the web
Friends’ calendars, which you import from their Google Calendar web pages
Holiday calendars, which add national holidays to a basic calendar.
Setting up a new calendar is comically easy. In fact, there’s nothing to set up. When you first sign into the Google Calendar page, your calendar is already there, waiting for your input. There’s nothing to create, nothing to configure.
Can it get any easier than that? And here’s something unique about Google Calendar. Because it’s part of the mighty Google empire, Google Calendar integrates smoothly with Google’s Gmail application. Google Calendar can scan your email messages for dates and times and, with a few clicks of your mouse, create events based on the content of your Gmail messages. For all these reasons, I’m a big fan and longtime user of Google Calendar. I recommend it to any user for home or business use.

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