Ask LH: How Can I Sync All My Calendars On My iPhone?

Ask LH: How Can I Sync All My Calendars On My iPhone?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m looking for a way to sync my iPhone, Outlook and Gmail calendars all together, so when I make a change on one all of the other calendars update to the changes automatically. I have tried to use the iCloud control panel in Windows, without much luck. Even when I can set my iCloud and Gmail calendars as internet calendars on Outlook they show as read-only calendars and I can’t add appointments. Please help. Thanks, Calendar Clod

Dear Calendar Clod

What you’re trying to do should theoretically work but isn’t as easy as it should be. The problem is that while both Google and Outlook are solid calendar clients, they’re not made to serve their calendars to each other. Here’s how I get around it.

Based on your call for help, I’m assuming you have a GMail account and an Exchange account and that you want to access and edit both accounts from your iPhone. What’s making it come complex, is that I think you want to be able to edit your calendars from multiple places.

The good news is that you can write to all your calendars at the same time. Assuming that you’ve added your accounts correctly to your iPhone, it can be used as a central point for updating both calendars. Updates made in Outlook and Google calendar will appear on the iPhone and the iPhone can be used to update either calendar.

Essentially, you create a hub and spoke system with the iPhone at the centre. It can talk to both calendars but they can’t talk directly to each other.

However, it could possible to get Outlook to access your Google calendars using Google Calendar Sync. It’s not a real-time sync but you can set it to sync – either one-way or two-way – between Outlook and Google Calendar.

Assuming you’re running Microsoft Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010 on either Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 that might be a way forward.


  • I tried for a long time to get a Google Calendar/Outlook calendar/iPhone system working. Google Calendar Sync worked quite well – but only for 1 calendar, Google for some ridiculous reason refuses to make it work for more than 1.

    I ended up throwing in the towel with Outlook’s calendar – I still use Outlook for mail and contacts, but I used Chrome’s handy “Create Application Shortcut” tool to give me a dedicated Google Calendar window attached to my taskbar.

    With Google’s recent UI improvements to the calendar, I’m quite happy with this new scenario. I can now happily calendar away on both my desktop, another desktop in a web browser, and on my phone, across all my shared calendars, and everything works great.

  • What if the user has access to the mailserver and it already has ActiveSync that does work. Their Outlook CALENDAR stays synced just fine. But. In outlook, they also have a second calendar called WORK. This is a calendar that initially was created through the Shared items. Once you open it it becomes an item available under CALENDARS in outlook. So now you have two. The normal and the WORK. To prove they are not just “local items” she can see them both In Webmail, but the calendar named WORK is marked as PUBLIC because when they are at work, other people also have access to that calendar. It is accessed as a shared item when in outlook

    Using webmail, there is no problem at all. Both calendars are there and she can choose just to see WORK. But on her I-phone, I-Pad etc., she can only synchronize through setting up an EXCHANGE account and that account only syncs to all of her email PLUS the main Outlook Calendar. No options to choose the other WORK calendar.

    The problem here is nothing to do with syncing to outside calendars or any of that, she simply wants to get the WORK calendar to automatically COPY everything in it to the regular calendar inside her copy of outlook on her laptop. If those two would stay equal, then her I-Phone, I-Pad etc. would show what she needs.

    The easy way out is to open outlook and COPY the contents of WORK into the regular calendar. Tell it not to create duplicates and all done. As soon her laptop syncs to the mailserver, both copies in her webmail are the same. Then as soon as her phone syncs with webmail, it copies the main outlook calendar as always but now it contains the information that was in the WORK calendar.

    The only reason this works is because she never uses her regular calendar and has nothing in it. But no one wants to have to manually copy everything every 30 minutes

    Since it CAN be done with a simple cut and paste inside outlook, surely there is a program to automate the copy? If so, what?

    Thanks for any solutions

  • Is it possible to sync my Outlook calendar (work) with my iPhone calendar (personal), without my Outlook (work) program having access to my iPhone contacts & photos?

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