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Productivity

Publish and Share Calendars with Calendar and iCloud

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With Calendar and iCloud in Mountain Lion, it’s easier than ever to create shared and public calendars on your Mac. In this tutorial, we’ll create a calendar from scratch and walk through how to share it via email invitation as well as how to publish it publicly on the Internet.


Step 1: Create a Calendar

If you haven’t already created a calendar in iCal (Pre-Mountain-Lion) or in the new Mountain Lion "Calendar" app, it’s pretty simple, and you’re going to need a calendar if you want to share one.

In the File menu, Choose “New Calendar.” You’ll want to make it an iCloud Calendar if it’s for publishing or sharing, and for the purpose of this tutorial, it is. (If you can’t see your list of calendars, click the Calendars button at the top of the window or choose “Show Calendar List” in the View menu.)

Right-clicking and choosing Get Info let's you fiddle with a few more calendar options, obviously most important of which is color.

The only thing you have to do with a new calendar is give it a name, and that’s not even mandatory if you’re okay with your calendars all going around as “Untitled.” Right-clicking and choosing "Get Info" let's you fiddle with a few more calendar options, obviously, most important of which is color. You can also change your calendar’s name if you accidentally called it something like “Snooki,” give it a description, and change alert settings.


Step 2: Share Your Calendar with Your Friends and Family

To share any iCloud calendar in Calendar, first select it in the calendars list. Then either right-click and choose “Share Calendar...” or select the same option from the Edit menu.

You can publish a public read-only calendar, editable only by you, or you can share a calendar with only the email addresses you choose, and then choose whether or not others are allowed to make changes. Each method has its pros and cons, and we’ll do a public calendar in the next step.

Sharing a calendar with only a few friends and family
Sharing a calendar with only a few friends and family

In the sharing settings, choose “Only the people you invite” if you want to create an editable calendar shared among your friends, family, colleagues, etc. A new spot to input email addresses will open up, and you can enter as many as you’d like.

You can also set each person’s privilege for the calendar here, whether you’d like them to be able to edit the calendar or have read-only access.

Each person will receive an email inviting them to join the calendar. However, they will need to have an iCloud account to join the calendar.

When you’ve finished, click the Share button, and a sharing icon appears next to your calendar in the calendar list. Each person will receive an email inviting them to join the calendar. However, they will need to have an iCloud account to join the calendar. If they want to sync the calendar with another service, it will have to be compatible with iCloud.

The invite email your friends will receive
The invite email your friends will receive

Providing everyone has an iCloud account and is setup to use Calendar or something compatible, there are a lot of great uses for a shared community calendar. You can create a calendar for your family, editable by you and your spouse but giving your ankle biters read-only access, so they don’t make every evening spaghetti night or something. You can also have a project-based calendar shared among co-workers or a party-based calendar shared among your friends.


Step 3: Publish Your Public Calendar

Public calendars work differently from the invite-only calendars above in that they’re shared via a URL. Anyone with that URL will have access to the calendar.

If you create a calendar that might have wider public appeal, isn’t tied to personal events, and won’t need to be edited by others, you may want to publish it as a public calendar. Public calendars work differently from the invite-only calendars above in that they’re shared via a URL. Anyone with that URL will have access to the calendar, whether or not they were the intended recipients of the calendar. You’ll want to make sure you haven’t included any personal information in your calendar’s events.

To make your calendar public, go into your sharing settings again by right-clicking on the calendar or choosing “Share Calendar...” from the Edit menu. (If you’ve already shared the calendar and just want to make it public or change some stuff, this option is going to be “Sharing Settings.”)

Publishing a public calendar
Publishing a public calendar

Choose to share your calendar with “Everyone” this time. The sharing icon will appear next to the calendar again, but not a whole lot else will seem to happen. However, Calendar has generated a public URL for your calendar.

My calendar list... notice the shared calendars!
My calendar list... notice the shared calendars!

To get the URL, right-click on the calendar and choose "Get Info" or "Copy URL to Clipboard," or select "Get Info" in the Edit Menu. You can then email, message, tweet, or otherwise share your URL with anyone you’d like. Again, this URL will only work with iCloud-supported services.


Step 4: Unshare Your Calendar

Whoops! You just made your personal calendar, with all of your doctor's appointments and plans with friends and dates with your significant other, public to all of the Internet. Big mistake, you want to roll that play back. No problem.

For a stranger to have gotten to your calendar, they’d need that URL, and they’re not going to get it by guessing.

First of all, don’t worry too much. Unless you gave out the URL to someone, it’s likely no one even knows about your date with Dr. Orin Scrivello next week. Even if you did email the URL to your mom, dad, and six best friends, unless one of them reblogged it, no one you don’t know is looking at your dirty laundry. For a stranger to have gotten to your calendar, they’d need that URL, and they’re not going to get it by guessing.

Unsharing your calendar
Unsharing your calendar

To stop sharing your calendar, select the offender in the calendar list. Right-click and choose “Stop Sharing...” or select “Stop Sharing...” from the Edit menu. You’ll be asked to confirm that you want to remove the calendar from the Internet and stop sharing it with others. Once you’ve confirmed, the sharing icon will disappear from beside the calendar and it will once again be private to you.


Conclusion

The snag in sharing calendars is that everyone is pretty much going to need to have an iCloud account to view the calendar. Even public calendars may have some trouble syncing with other services, as I got an error that Google was blocked by Apple from adding iCloud calendars to their calendar service. So while you’re happily scheduling events and sharing calendars in Calendar on your Mac, it’s good to keep in mind your audience using your calendar may not be on the same page.

That said, with the advent of iCloud and Calendar, sharing and publishing calendars has gotten a lot easier. A couple of clicks and an email invite or copied URL later, and you’ve shared your calendar. Have you been using shared calendars? I use them to make sure my husband and I don’t overbook and to keep up with colleagues. Are you using them to keep your family’s life under control, too? Have you found some inventive ways to use public calendars? Let us know in the comments!

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