One of the great advantages of using Google Calendar is that you see many different calendars on the same interface, and you can choose which one you want to see at any time.
For example, your Google Calendar can include a personal calendar, a work calendar, the calendars of family members, calendars that show local or international holidays, and one that adds the schedule of your favorite sports team. You view as many calendars at once as you like, or turn them off temporarily if your calendar is too crowded, or if you need to concentrate on a particular schedule.
If you’re new to Google Calendar, this is a quick guide to adding and using multiple calendars. Be aware that most of the tweaks listed here are only available via the web interface; any that you can do via the mobile app will be noted.
Choose which calendars to show
When you first sign on to Google Calendar, you are already supplied with several calendars, which you can see on the left side of the page, sorted into two categories. Under “My calendars,” you’ll find your personal calendar, one called “Birthdays” that pulls events from the people listed in your Google Contacts, Reminders, and Tasks. Under “Other calendars,” you’ll start with a holiday calendar for your country.
Note that each calendar is assigned a color (shown by the checkbox on the left of each calendar’s label). If you hover the cursor over the label, you’ll see a menu icon (three dots) on the right; click it, and you can change the color for that calendar.
Don’t want to see the entries for any specific calendar? Just uncheck the box, and check it to see it again. You can see as many or as few calendars at a time as you want.
On the mobile app, you can access your various calendars by tapping on the three parallel line menu bar in the upper-left corner. The pull-out menu will first show your presentation choices (day, week, month, etc.), and then it will show the calendars with colored checkboxes; uncheck any you don’t want to see.
If you want to change the color of a checkbox on your mobile device, it’s a little more complicated.
- Tap on the menu bar in the upper-left corner
- Scroll down to “Settings” (it’s got a gear icon)
- Tap on the calendar you want to change
- You’ll see the color that you’re currently using. Tap on that.
- Select your new color from the pop-up list
Creating a new calendar
Let’s say you’re trying to save money by not eating out, and you’ve decided one way to do that is to plan your meals for the week. You can create a separate calendar called “Meals” where you specify what you’ve planned for dinner each day.
Here’s how to create a new calendar:
- Next to “Other calendars” on the left, select the plus sign
- Click on “Create new calendar”
- Type in the name of your new calendar and add a description (if you want to). Make sure the time zone is correct.
- Click on “Create calendar”
Your new calendar will now be active, and you’ll find it in the “My calendars” category. If you want to change the assigned color, hover your cursor over the calendar name, click on the three-dot Options menu, and choose a color.
Don’t need that calendar anymore? You have a number of options:
- If you just want to temporarily not see it on the calendar, uncheck its box
- If you want to remove it from your list, use the Options menu to select “Hide from list.” (If you want it back again, click on the gear icon in the upper-right corner, select “Settings,” and scroll down until you see “Settings for my calendars” on the left. Any calendars that you’ve hidden will have a symbol with a crossed-out eye next to it. Just click on the eye to unhide the calendar.)
- If you want to completely delete it, go to the Settings page and find “Settings for my calendars.” Click on the name of the calendar, select “Remove calendar,” and then look in the center of the page for “Delete.”
Adding additional Google calendars
You can also add calendars from other sources using your browser. (You can’t do it on a mobile app.) You can add other people’s Google Calendars (assuming they give you permission), add other calendars available via Google, and add calendars using the iCal format.
First, let’s say you want to add a friend’s Google Calendar.
- Select the plus sign next to “Other calendars” and choose “Subscribe to calendar”
- Where it says “Add calendar,” type in your friend’s Gmail address
- It’s likely that you’ll get a pop-up message that you don’t have access to that calendar. In that case, use the form to request access from your friend.
- Your friend will get a request email with a link, which will allow you to either just see the events, make changes to them, or actually manage them. When they approve the share, you will get an email telling you that you now have access to the calendar, with a link that will add the calendar to yours.
- Again, this only works if your friend has a Google Calendar as well. If not, you’ll have to import the calendar via the iCalendar format (see below).
If you want to check out the public calendars that Google has available:
- Select the plus sign and choose “Browse calendars of interest” or go to the Settings page and choose “Browse calendars of interest” from the left-hand menu.
- You’ll find a rather limited list of calendars you can add: religious and regional holidays, sports, and phases of the moon.
You can also add the birthdays of people who are in your Contacts list. Look at the “My calendars” heading on the left side of your Google Calendar for a calendar called Birthdays. If you don’t see it:
- Go to the Settings page
- Under “Settings for my calendar” on the left side, you’ll see an eye icon with a line through it. Click on that.
- Now, you’ll see the “Birthdays” calendar under the “My calendars” heading in your Google Calendar
You’re not limited to calendars that are provided by Google or used by someone who has a Google Calendar. You can add a variety of interesting calendars via iCalendar (often referred to as iCal or .ics), a long-standing format for storing calendar information. The simplest way to find iCal calendars is to get them from sites such as WebCal.fi and iCalShare. If you use the IFTTT app, you can access a number of calendar add-ons there.
You can also import a non-Google calendar from an individual — as long as they’ve exported their calendar in a usable format such as CSV or iCal.
- Click on the gear icon to go to Settings
- Select “Import & export” from the left-hand menu
- Under the center “Import” category, select the file you want to import. If you manage more than one Google Calendar, you can select which calendar you want to import the info into.
Note that this won’t sync the two calendars — it will only import the existing data from one calendar to another — so it’s only useful for a one-time import (say, if you’re importing static info, such as your work holiday schedule). Syncing your Google Calendar with others, like Apple Calendar or Outlook, is a whole other topic.