The Best Calendar App For Windows

Windows has a few good desktop calendars, but we think Google Calendar is without a doubt the best calendar around, so though it may not be a desktop app in the truest sense, it still wins our pick for best calendar on Windows.

We understand that some of you might be upset that our pick isn't a "true" desktop app. However, we still think it's the best option on Windows by a good margin. That is, if you asked us what the best way to manage your calendar was on a Windows machine, we'd say Google Calendar, hands down — and that's what the App Directory is about. It's about finding the best tool for the job, not getting caught up in technicalities. If you need a desktop app, check out the Competition section below.

Google Calendar

Platform: Web Price: Free

Features

  • Manage multiple calendars, and share them with your friends, family and co-workers so they can keep up on when you're busy.
  • Quickly add events with just a few clicks and a phrase like "Dinner on Sunday with Grandma at 5PM".
  • Set reminders that email you, text you, or display a pop-up window when an event is near, either for individual events or for all events on a specific calendar.
  • Send invitations for events on your calendar, and let other Google Calendar users RSVP via email or GCal itself.
  • Sync your calendars down to nearly any desktop or mobile app, so you have it with you wherever you go.
  • View calendars in a day, week, month, custom number of days, or event-by-event "agenda" view.
  • Attach files stored in Google Docs to calendar events.
  • Search for events throughout your calendars using Google's algorithm.
  • Google Calendar Labs, which enhance the experience by letting you add additional features like less intrusive pop-ups and displaying other attendees on the event's block in your calendar.

Where It Excels

Google Calendar's biggest advantage is that it's extremely easy to use without skimping on features. Everything is plainly laid out: you can add quick calendar events with a few keystrokes or more advanced events, full of reminders and other attributes when you need them. Being able to send yourself emails and text messages is also great, as is setting specific events to "free" or "busy". No doubt the coolest feature of GCal, though, is being able to share your calendars with others, and have them share their calendars with you. Never again will you have to call your spouse and ask them if they're busy, or email your friends asking them what dates they've planned for that road trip. It's all in your calendar, all the time. Plus, it's completely free, and can sync to just about any other app out there, meaning you'll always have it on your phone and can access it from any computer.

Where It Falls Short

Google Calendar's biggest downside, at the moment, is its lack of offline access. This feature is supposedly coming soon, but for right now, it's something that's severely lacking if you don't have an internet connection. In addition, Google Calendar's Gmail integration is surprisingly disappointing — you can add events right from Gmail, but they don't take on any dates or times from the email, making it a mere link to Google Calendar. It'd be nice if it could try to extrapolate event details from the message and create it that way.

The Competition

One of the most popular calendar apps on Windows is Microsoft Outlook. It's also very powerful, but not quite as user-friendly, nor as cheap (since it requires you buy the Microsoft Office suite). It has great email integration and works fantastically in an enterprise environment, but for personal calendars, it isn't quite as easy. If you use Outlook for email, though, it's the clear calendar choice.

If you're using our favorite email client for Windows, Thunderbird, you might like the Lightning extension. Like Outlook, its biggest strength is email integration, but it can be a little buggy sometimes. If you use Thunderbird, it's worth a shot for the email integration alone, but don't expect it to be as good as the others. It can, however, sync with Google Calendar, which is nice.

Rainlendar is a popular calendar that, instead of having its own big window, puts a small calendar widget on your desktop and alerts you to upcoming events. You can apply all sorts of different skins and even sync with Google Calendar, Outlook, or Remember the Milk if you so choose. If you want your calendar to stay out of the way, it's worth checking out.

Windows Live Mail includes a simple calendar tool that integrates with other Windows Live apps, but sadly can only sync with Windows Live's web interface out of the box (and isn't nearly as powerful as the other competition). VueCalendar is one of the most feature-filled calendars around, but costs $US40 to use. If you spend a ton of time with your calendars, though, and need really advanced features like running programs with an event, publishing calendars to HTML, or uploading saved web pages to an FTP server, it's worth checking out.

Lifehacker's App Directory recommends the best applications and tools across multiple platforms.


Comments

    I use an app called "Calendar Creator Deluxe" to print out A3 monthly calendars. Works a treat!

    Does Google Calendar even count. I thought you were looking for the best app. This would imply that it is an application installed on the computer. In your decription you state: "Google Calendar’s biggest downside, at the moment, is its lack of offline access." In my book that doesn't make it an app.

    MS Outlook would be a much better choice synced with Live and web apps. Online and offline access.

    I hate the lack of being able to add a fortnightly event :(

      Look again -- you can do this, although it might not be obvious. When you open the "Repeats" dialog, the first drop down box lets you choose Daily/Weekly/Monthly/Yearly (plus a few other options), and the second drop down box lets you choose the number of days/weeks/months/years (depending on what you selected). So choose "Weekly", and "2 weeks" for a fortnightly event.

    "In addition, Google Calendar’s Gmail integration is surprisingly disappointing — you can add events right from Gmail, but they don’t take on any dates or times from the email, making it a mere link to Google Calendar. It’d be nice if it could try to extrapolate event details from the message and create it that way."

    ... It *does* do exactly this.

    I use GCal alll the time. I find it fantastic as it nicely syncs with my Android phone with out any hassles so that almost becomes me offline calendar. If I have no internet access at the time I can put it into my phone and when I become onlne again or in service it quite comfortably syncs to my Google Calendar. Anotehr nice feature I find is that on my Android phone I have an app which syncs my phone calls to my calendar, I just create a different callendar for that to add events to and I can easily find out when someone has last called me.. a phone number i've forgotten or never written down and keep track visually of my bill. It has many plusses using Gogle Calendar over many other apps. It quite nicely syncs with Firebird in Windows / Linux type enviroments too.

    I use Thunderbird + Lightning + the "Provider for Google Calendar" extension to give me integrated mail, calendar, tasks and syncing to Google Calendar. I'm also playing with the "Google Contacts" extension to sync Thunderbird's address book with my GMail address book.

      ditto to all of that.. it works like a finly tuned instrument. (kinda)

    Rainlendar FTW!!!!!

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