Microsoft Outlook Calendar Versus Google Calendar

By Terry Hawthorne

If you are using Microsoft Outlook as your email and calendar client, you can continue to use it after we have switched to Google Apps. Outlook is an outstanding email client, but if you are also using its calendar functions for managing your schedule, I recommend you switch to Google Calendar. Unless it is deployed in a Microsoft Exchange environment (which we don't have), Outlook Calendar's features are no match for Google Calendar. Here are two good reasons to switch, plus a third if you happen to have an Android cell phone:

Do You Use an Android Phone?

If your cell phone uses the Android operating system (which is supplied by Google), you have one more reason to switch from Outlook's Calendar to the Google Apps Calendar: seamless integration with your phone's calendar. By seamless, I mean that when you enter an appointment in Google Calendar using your computer, it shows up on your Android phone's calendar. When you enter an appointment on your phone's calendar, it shows up on your Google Calendar. No syncing or other action is required.

Android phones also sync with your other Google apps. For example, you can view your School Board Google mail on your Android phone by opening your phone's Gmail app and adding another Gmail account. If you choose to do this, be sure to enter your School Board account as username@scsb.org, not username@gmail.com.

1) Never Miss Another Appointment

Have you ever missed an appointment because you weren't sitting in front of your computer when Microsoft Outlook popped up the appointment reminder? Google Calendar enables you to receive appointment reminders by email or text message, in addition to the standard popup reminder. (In fairness to Microsoft, you can get Outlook reminders to appear on your cell phone, provided you have the right kind of phone and can sync it with Outlook on your computer, but that's a lot more trouble than the Google approach, which works with any phone capable of receiving text messages.)

To enable text messaging reminders in Google Calendar, perform the following steps:

  1. Log into Google Apps and go to the Calendar App.
  2. Click Settings in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and choose Calendar Settings.
  3. Click the Mobile Setup tab.
  4. Follow the instructions on the Mobile Setup screen to enter your mobile phone number and receive a verification code.

Once you have entered the verification code, you can have Google Calendar send appointment reminders to your phone as a text message. (Be aware that your wireless provider will charge you for each reminder you receive, unless you have purchased a texting plan.)

2) Share Your Calendars With Colleagues, Students and Parents, and Family and Friends

By default, Google Calendar creates a default calendar for your personal use. You can also create additional calendars that you can share with colleagues, family members, or students and parents. If the people with whom you want to share the calendar don't have Google accounts, you can publish the calendar as a web page. (See the Smyth County School Board calendar of events as an example.) You can also subscribe to shared calendars that others have created. All these calendars appear as a single unified calendar, as shown on the screenshot below.

Screenshot of Google calendar.