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For years, we’ve had the ability to synchronize email across offline and online platforms. That’s a no-brainer. But only recently have we stumbled across a rock-solid method for synchronizing that other big part of the typical email program: the calendar.
Yes, we know how easy it is to pull down an iCal or XML feed into a desktop calendar application. That’s little more than a copy-and-paste job. We’ll still show you how to do it, but we’re far more interested in the holy grail: a two-way synchronization between your Outlook or Sunbird client and your Gmail Calendar. Depending on which program you’re using, this can be as easy as pie or as fun as a kick to the groin. Our advice? Disentangle yourself from Outlook and move over to Sunbird.
|With Google Calendar, you can import someone else’s shared calendar, a public calendar, or a calendar file on your computer itself.|
Before you start your adventures in synchronization town, you need to have all the necessary programs and utilities up and running. If you don’t have a Google account, open one now (www.google.com). Doing so gains you access to Google’s stable of awesome apps—Gmail, Google Docs, Google Talk—but most importantly, it opens the door to Google’s mighty online calendar application.
The app itself is pretty straightforward. You’ll start off with a primary calendar that you can add all manner of appointments to. If you want to create secondary calendars for alternate purposes (say you want separate calendars for your work life and personal life), just click the Add button on the left of the screen. Select “Create a new calendar” and enter the corresponding information—including whether you want to share the calendar with your friends, the world, or nobody.
Now is the time to separate your calendars by function. Perhaps you want only work-related appointments to appear on your work laptop, whereas you want your soccer schedule and Maximum PC Podcast reminders to appear on your PC at home. We’ll show you how to do this with a synchronization program. Trust us, it’s a lot harder to divvy up your calendar entries after you’ve thrown a ton of items into a single container. After you’ve created your calendars, fire up your calendar application of choice (Outlook or Sunbird).