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 change the time zone for calendar alerts on your iPhone and iPad

By default, your iPhone or iPad will automatically change time zones and assume your events should change as well. Say you fly from New York to Las Vegas. Your Calendar app will automatically change to the given time zone which means an alert set at 9:30am will go off at that time in the new time zone, not your home time zone.

If you don't like this behavior, you can easily change it.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Tap on Time Zone Override under the Calendars section.
  4. Turn On the Time Zone Override option.
  5. Tap on Time Zone and search for the time zone you'd like the Calendars app to always abide by.
  6. Tap on the time zone you'd like to use to select it.

How to change event sync settings for calendar entries on iPhone and iPad

By default, your iPhone or iPad will only sync so many events. If you need to be able to access events and appointments in the past for reference at any given time, you may want your calendar to always store all your events. If you don't tend to look back at past events, a shorter time period is a better option.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Tap on Sync under the Calendars section.
  4. Tap on the duration of time you'd like your iPhone or iPad to sync events for.

How to change default alert times for calendar events on iPhone and iPad

Alert times are when your calendar alerts you that you have an upcoming event or appointment. You can easily change the setting for when your Calendar app on your iPhone or iPad will alert you of an event.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Tap on Default Alert Times under the Calendars section.
  4. Choose the default alert times you'd like. You can set different default alert times for birthdays, timed events, and all day events.

How to set a default calendar on your iPhone and iPad

If you create more events and appointments in one calendar on your iPhone or iPad more than the others, it can be beneficial to set that calendar as your default one. For most folks, this will probably be a work calendar but regardless, the calendar you use most should be your default.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Tap on Default Calendar under the Calendars section.
  4. Tap on the calendar name for the calendar you'd like to be the default.

Note: Originally published December 2012. Updated June 2014.