If you collaborate with co-workers or teammates in any capacity, an easy-to-use shared calendar is a must-have these days. If you work remotely, you also need to be able to access your shared calendar from anywhere.
There are lots of options for shared calendars and for sharing between multiple calendar types. While Microsoft® Outlook is the calendar choice for many businesses, there are some amazing free web calendar options as well. From wonderful freebies to tips for integrating between Outlook and other calendars, here's a bit about what's going on in Shared Calendars right now.
Free web calendars are often a great choice for small business owners on limited budgets and without an IT team on staff (read more on the benefits of using Software as a Service). The two we mention come with free email and are hosted securely online so you don't have to deal with bugs, fixes or updates.
Here are some helpful tips and tools available for sharing and merging information with other Outlook users and with web calendar users.
Office Outlook 2007 Calendar Sharing via the Internet (or Internet Calendars)
There are two ways to share Office Outlook 2007 calendars, and many others, via the Internet using your calendar's iCalendar format and the .ics file name extension, which is the global Internet standard that allows calendar information to be exchanged across applications.
Email Calendar Snapshots:
Exchange snapshots of the current month's calendar or other calendars when you're trying to coordinate a meeting or when it's helpful know a partner or employee's schedule. The snapshot is not linked to the master calendar, which means you cannot edit it nor will you receive future updates to this calendar. However, the snapshots are customizable so you can email just a certain date range and choose which appointment details you want to share.
Calendars from Outlook and most calendar sources can be uploaded to special websites where users can host and/or subscribe to calendars-either for the entire public or to a select group. In fact, Google Calendar has an array of calendars for its users to subscribe to from the latest releases on Netflix and the phases of the moon to 2008 campaign events and a whole host of regional and nationwide events of all sizes. You can publish your calendar at Microsoft Office Online or iCalShare.com is another shared public calendar site.
To take advantage of public Internet calendars, subscribe to them and then configure Outlook to download the calendars and to query for updates. Once you have this set up, your Outlook calendar will regularly synchronize with that calendar's server. Outlook will create an additional calendar so you can use that calendar inside Outlook along with all its easy editing and viewing features.
Use these affordable options without Microsoft Exchange to share Outlook calendar, contact and task information.
This overview has really only brushed the tip of the iceberg in terms of calendar sharing. There are wonderful new features (and FREE ones too!) being created and added all the time. Plus, as technology evolves, as it always does, there will only be more ways to share and work together across applications, which is great news for small businesses with a variety of clients.
Good luck to you in your calendar sharing adventures. We hope we have simplified the big picture so you have a little more time to actually get calendar sharing up and running for your business.
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