How to use Calendar for iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide

How to use Calendar for iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide

Calendars help you keep track of what you're doing and when, which is why it's always been one of the core apps on mobile devices from the earliest PDA (personal digital assistants), to the latest iPhones and iPads. That why, when iOS launched in 2007, it included a Calendar app. Whether you simply use Calendar by itself, or whether you sync it via iCloud, Google Calendar, Microsoft, or something else, it's the default way to add and find appointments and events.

How to set up iCloud calendar on your iPhone or iPad

How to set up iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and more

If you didn't originally set up your iPhone or iPad with iCloud Calendar, or if you want to use a different iCloud account for Calendar than you do for iTunes purchases, you may need to sign in and set up iCloud outside of the initial setup process. In some cases, you may simply want to add an additional account to your device, you can add an iCloud account at any time via the Settings app.

How to access iCloud calendars on the Mac, Windows, and the Web

How to access iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and more on the web

If you can't get to your iPhone or iPad but still need to manage your iCloud calendars, you can also access them on the Mac, Windows, or on the Web. Perhaps your iPhone is dead and you need to use your Mac or a friend's PC, or you're on holiday and don't have mobile data but there is an internet cafe or terminal close by. Either way, you can quickly and easily access you calendar and many of the other iCloud services from any web browser.

How to setup Google Calendar on your iPhone or iPad

How to setup Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts on your iPhone or iPad

Google Calendar is incredibly popular and, what's more, is incredibly easy to setup on your iPhone or iPad. If you have a free Gmail account, you can set it up through the iOS Settings app and access it through the built-in Calendar app. If you have a paid Google account, you can also use Google Sync, Google's implementation of Microsoft's ActiveSync service. (Sadly, Google discontinued ActiveSync support for free accounts in 2013).

How to set up Microsoft Outlook calendar on iPhone and iPad

How to set up and access Microsoft Outlook email on iPhone and iPad

If Microsoft — Live or Hotmail if you're retro — is your calendar provider of choice, it's easy to set up and access it right on your iPhone or iPad. Microsoft might have taken a while, and gone through a lot of names and iterations, to get their online consumer services into the modern age, but what they've finally settled on is impressive. There's Exchange if you need ActiveSync. If you don't, there's Outlook.

How to setup Exchange calendars using ActiveSync on your iPhone or iPad

How to setup Exchange or Google mail, calendar, contacts using ActiveSync on your iPhone or iPad

Exchange is Microsoft's corporate email, calendar, and contact system, and ActiveSync is their fairly awesome protocol to keep it all updated on all of your devices, including iPhone and iPad. No matter whether you use Exchange directly from Microsoft, from Google, or from your company or a third-party service, it's all setup the same way. All you need to know are your credentials.

How to setup calendar accounts using CalDAV on your iPhone and iPad

How to setup calendar accounts using CalDAV on your iPhone and iPad

While iOS makes it easy to add popular calendar accounts to your iPhone or iPad, you can manually add any calendar that supports the open CalDAV standard as well. For example, if you're using the Gmail app for your Google mail, you might want to use CalDAV to add your Google Calendar to Apple's built-in Calendar app. If you're running our own calendar server, CalDAV is what you'll want as well. As long as you have the login information for the CalDAV account, you're good to go.

How to subscribe to calendars on your iPhone or iPad

How to subscribe to calendars on your iPhone or iPad

Calendar subscriptions let you stay up to date on everything from your team schedule to national holidays to network programming. The iPhone and iPad let you subscribe to any calendar that provides a compatible URL. As long as you have the link for the subscription, you're good to go.

How to set default calendars, alert times, sync options, and more on iPhone or iPad

How to set default calendars, alert times, sync, and more on iPhone or iPad

The iPhone and iPad Calendar app allows you to set not only your default calendar, but to customize many other settings that change how your calendar events behave. Having good defaults can make it much faster to add new events and appointments, especially if you often add events to the same calendar, with the same alert requirements. You can also set how far back your iPhone and iPad will sync those appointments and events, so you can keep handy just your most recent entries, or entries going back for months. You can toggle automatic time zone shifting, and even turn off invitation alerts if you need fewer distractions in your life.

How to add and delete calendars on your iPhone and iPad

How to add and delete calendars on your iPhone and iPad

The Calendar app on the iPhone and iPad can keep track of all your events and appointments, all in one place. But it doesn't have to keep them all in the same calendar. If you prefer to keep your work life and personal life separate, or to have a specific calendar for kids activities, or a special vacation, or for anything else, you can easily do so. Since each calendar gets its own color, and you have the ability to hide or show individual calendars, it's a great way to stay organized and stay sane at the same time. Additional calendars are easy to setup, and if you ever stop needing them, they're easy to delete as well.

How to use the Family Sharing calendar on iPhone and iPad

When you set up Family Sharing on your iPhone or iPad, iOS 8 automatically created a shared family calendar that every member of your Family Sharing group will have access to. From soccer games to PTA meetings and everything in between, the Family Sharing calendar can help your entire family on schedule and in touch!

How to share or make an iCloud calendar public using your iPhone or iPad

How to share or make iCloud calendars public on iPhone and iPad

If you use Apple's free iCloud service, and you've added calendars to better organize your events, you may want to make one public or share it completely. For example, if you manage a club or league, and want other members to be able to view it as well, but not edit it like they could a shared calendar, a public calendar is the way to go. If you're planning a trip or maintaining a work schedule, and want other people to be able to not only view, but add and edit events, then a shared calendar is the way to go.

How to create, edit, and delete calendar events on your iPhone or iPad

How to create, edit, and delete Calendar events on your iPhone or iPad

The Calendar app for iPhone and iPad provides a great way to keep track of all your appointments and events. While it's faster to use Siri to create basic events, if you need more precise control, or if you want to edit existing event details, you can also do it the old fashioned way -- by tapping your way through options inside the Calendar app itself.

How to create, view, update, and cancel calendar events using Siri

How to create, view, update, and cancel calendar events using Siri

Since Siri is meant to be your personal assistant, it only makes sense to have it schedule and manage your meetings and events on your iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPod touch 5, iPad 4, iPad 3, or iPad mini. Asking Siri to create a Calendar event only takes a few seconds and is much faster than creating them manually and entering all the data yourself. Whether you need Siri to schedule a meeting, tell you what's on the agenda for the day, or move an existing meeting to another time to make room for a conference call or a power nap, Siri will help make sure your schedule is set.

How to quickly change or move a calendar event on iPhone and iPad

How to quickly change or move a calendar event on iPhone and iPad

If you need to quickly change the time of an event or appointment in your iPhone or iPad's Calendar, the today view gives you an incredibly easy way of doing so by dragging and dropping instead of entering into edit mode for each event you need to change. Unfortunately, the Calendar app doesn't make the option very obvious. But once you know where it's at, we're pretty sure you'll prefer it over editing individual events when it comes time to plan your day.

How to send and accept calendar event invitations on iPhone and iPad

How to send calendar event invitations on iPhone and iPad

When you're creating an event or appointment in the iPhone or iPad Calendar app, you might want to add other people to it, and alert them about it. That's where invitations come in. If you're using a calendar service that supports it, like Apple's iCloud service or Microsoft's Exchange, all you need are the email addresses for the people you want to invite.

How to switch calendar views on your iPhone or iPad

How to switch Calendar views on your iPhone or iPad

The built-in Calendar app on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch offers several different ways to view your events and appointments. The default view is Month, but you can also switch to List and Day view, and on the iPad, Year view. This lets you easily see everything at a glance, or drill down to one specific hour.

Best calendar app alternatives for iPhone and iPad

Best calendar apps for iPhone and iPad

While the built-in iPhone and iPad calendar app is clean and functional, it's not the right calendar app for everyone. That's where the App Store comes in. There are several really great calendar replacement apps, and they can all tie into the same iOS calendar database, so all of your appointments, events, birthdays, and more will "just work". But which calendar app for iPhone or iPad is the absolute best for you?

Note: Originally published February 2013. Updated October 2014.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

How to use Calendar for iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide


One really brilliant feature that Apple doesn't seem to mention anywhere is dragging docs, pdf's etc into my iCloud Calender events. Give it a try it can be very useful. I look forward to the day you can add the attachments to contacts. I currently use the "Contacts Journal App" for this which is fantastic and it would be really worth you doing a feature on sometime.

This is all great information. But I'd be curious to know if there's a way to sync one of my iOS calendars on my iPad/iPod with the Google calendars on my Windows laptop. Maybe it's just me but I can't seem to figure out a way to have appointments I've made on my iPad,on any of the calendars that I have, appear on Google calendars on my laptop. I suppose If I had a Mac computer, there would be some associated calendar that would sync through the iCloud, but I have a Windows laptop.

This is probably a bit of a non-sequitor, but as a visual person there are two things that always have bothered me about calendars and they ALL do it.

1) Why can't I make an event that has no end time? Lots (most) of the things I want to put into a calendar are just "be there by x time" kind of things. Why does an event have to pretend it'a a meeting of X duration? These are quite different types of events, but they are always displayed in every calendar as the same. In short, why is everything a "meeting"?

2) Why is an "all day" event always just a sort of label in week view, and displayed in every other view as indistinguishable from a regular event? If an event is an all-day event, to my mind it should change the look of the whole day in whatever view you are using. In month view an all day event shouldn't appear as a dot, it should "cover" the whole day square. In week view it should colour the whole column. Having a bunch of dots in iCal, (or labels in Google calendar), that you have to zoom into that day to see which are all day events and which are event-events, is stupid and counterproductive. You already have a view where a discrete day is represented by a square. Logically, the square is what should change visually, since it is different from all other days (by virtue of the all-day event) and all day events are different from "meetings."

These visual disparities are just maddening to me. It makes no sense either logically or visually.

There. Rant over.

I'm a bit confused with the calendar on my iPhone. I wanted to use Sunrise, which is a truly beautiful app. But I also want to use Siri to schedule events. I've had several different things happen which have frustrated the day lights out of me!
1.the first time I had Siri schedule a date, it worked perfectly - in the calendar app. It didn't show up in Sunrise. Checked my settings and it showed Sunrise as updating every hour. I still would have thought that it was every hour OR when I opened the app. I changed it to a shorter time just to check, then tried to schedule something else. I just "scheduled" another date with the same person - my husband. This time. Siri asked me which email - his home or work. I selected his home in order to finish the scheduling. It allowed me to schedule, I checked sunrise again, and it showed up in there - twice. Once as a regular calendar event and one as an invitation - from myself. My husband also received an invitation, which I didn't want. I just wanted it in my calendar.

I declined and deleted the one that was the invite, and it removed both dates (not the very first one I did, but the one that showed up twice). It also sent another email to my husband canceling the invite.

I tried to turn off "iCloud calendar" thinking it was doing something, but when I did that, it wouldn't let me use Siri to schedule anything. After I spoke, it popped up with a list of things Siri can do.

I'm using a 5S, I have gmail set up just through the regular mail setup, then I also had the calendar option toggles on in iCloud. Do I have some settings wrong? And how can I get it to stop sending emails?

The one thing that has prevented me from using the native iOS calendar is the procedure for copying and pasting an event. It takes too long. Even on my old Treo, I could tap and hold the event and I'd get options, including "copy." I now use Calendars 5 for this reason. In the majority of my daily visits with clients, I schedule the same appointment for the next week or a few weeks down the line.

Calendars 5 also has a nice visual Day view like the native app. I've tried Fantastical, and it doesn't allow quick copying and pasting--a deal breaker for me. In fact, Calendars 5 seems superior to Fantastical and I just can't figure out why iMore staff love Fantastical so much.

Anyway, if only Apple would add the tap and hold for quick copying an event, I'd get rid of the 3rd party calendars in an instant. Why? Well, 3rd party calendars can do most everything the native app can do except show the date in the icon instead of the obnoxious badge.

I use Calendars5, it seems nonsense to have seperate calendar and reminders app. Calendars5 combines both. One great feature it has with tasks that others like Fatastical lacks is the ability to select from a list of tasks those that need to be done Today, without committing to a time and constant audio reminders. I just wish it had the modern ios8 look and feel.