Most of us today use Gmail as our personal email service provider. Not only for personal emails, a number of organizations have opted for Gmail through the Gsuite product.
With Gmail coming into our lives full on, we invariably depend on Google calendar for our calendaring needs.
Today I will introduce you to three tricks or features that are available on Google calendar for non-mobile devices which probably you may not be familiar with. These features have been introduced over a period without much fanfare.
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Trick #1: Offline Google Calendar
All of the Google software today is web based with the exception of Google Drive. And web based software require an active internet connection to use them. This would be a real problem as the Google calendar becomes unavailable when you are flying or in a place where internet is inaccessible.
Google has introduced offline mode to let you access your events in the calendar. There was no announcement of this feature. With the actual software, every new release is accompanied with release notes which informs users of the new features. There is no such thing that gets sent involuntarily for Google’s software.
To enable the offline feature, on the Google calendar, click on the gear icon and then settings. On the left sidebar, under General category, the last option is offline. You need to check the box – turn on offline calendar. It will ask for page reload and upon refresh of the calendar, go back to your calendar. Check the sync status. This will indicate your offline use readiness.
Some things to note:
- Offline google calendar works only on Google Chrome. If I try this feature on Microsoft Edge, I can’t even see the option. Bummer!
- You can only read the events in offline mode. Which means you can’t create or edit events.
- You will not be able to email guests which is obvious isn’t it?
- While Google calendar has gone offline, other Google programs like Tasks and Reminders aren’t. So they will not be accessible during the offline mode.
Trick #2: Google Meet Integration
Google calendar seamlessly integrates with Google Meet. All you have to do is to create an event and it comes attached with a Google Meet bridge.
To begin with, click on the date and time when you want to have a meeting. Add a title, description and guests. You see the big blue button. It gets auto added as soon as you add invitees to your meeting. A meeting invite goes out to all the folks who you added along with a Google Meet link. As simple as that!
The Google Meet integration comes up by default. If you want to disable adding a Google Meet bridge by default, click on settings – > Event settings and uncheck the box Automatically add Google Meet video conference to events I create. Now you need to additionally click on Add Google Meet for the bridge to come up for your meetings.
Let’s say I want to use MS Teams instead of Google Meet. I can get an add-on to do the job. Click on the gears and then add-on. Install Microsoft Teams Meeting. Provide the necessary approvals. Now when you create a meeting, you get a dropdown to select one of the meeting bridges. Although I must say that Google has made Meet stand out by default. Likewise there are other bridge options available under add-ons for you to try.
Trick #3: Adding Holidays and Sporting Events
When you setup meetings, it is key that you know when the holidays are. Especially when the teams are spread across geographies.
To help with this, Google has integrated holiday calendars. For me, based on my location, India holiday calendar is visible by default. Let’s say that I have a team member sitting in Albania and I need to consider his holidays before setting up a meeting, this is how I would do it.
Click on the + sign next to Other calendars and then Browse calendars of interest. Under Regional holidays, I click on Browse all and the select the checkbox next to Holidays in Albania. I get an option only to select Public holidays and other days of interests as well.
Apart from regional holidays, I can choose religious holidays as well. Apart from holidays, sporting events for select sports is available as well. In India we are crazy about cricket and that too the Indian Premier League. In the Indian Premier League, I can choose to add the matches of interest on my calendar. I am a big fan of Royal Challengers Bangalore and although we have not won a championship yet, we are always hoping to win the next one.
Adding holidays and other events is helpful when planning meetings. You can also add calendars of other Google calendar users by clicking subscribe to calendar. The other users need to give appropriate permissions for you to view.
Other options are for you to import calendars is through URLs and exported events from an iCal or CSV format. You can also export your calendar into a flat file and share it with others. This type of sharing is old school but its an option nevertheless.
Well, I hope the tricks that were shared in this post is worthwhile and can help you become more productive at calendaring. There are a number of other features available on Google calendar which might be worth the trouble exploring them.