Windows 7 : Managing Your Schedule - Sharing Calendars

11/4/2012 7:57:57 PM
Calendar sharing is a second major feature that is not available from Calendar in Windows Live Mail. Again, you will need to utilize Windows Live Calendar on the Web to share calendars.

1. Importing Calendars

Windows Live Calendar can import only calendars that are formatted in industry-standard ICS (iCalendar) format. This format is supported by applications such as Apple iCal, Mozilla Sunbird, and Microsoft Outlook (2007 or newer).

Follow these steps to import an ICS calendar file into Windows Live Calendar:

  1. Click the Subscribe link to display the Import or subscribe to a calendar page.

  2. Select Import from an ICS file.

  3. You can now import this file into another compatible calendar application. The display will change to accommodate options related to importing, as shown in Figure 1.

    Figure 1. From here, you can import static ICS files.
  4. Click the Browse button to locate the ICS file and then click Open.

  5. Choose either Import into a new calendar or Import into an existing calendar. If you choose the former, you will need to provide a name and color for the new calendar. For the latter, you simply choose the name of the calendar to use, and decide how to handle duplicate events.

  6. Click Import calendar.

Obviously, you will need an ICS file to import before you can do this. There are a few ways to get such a file. If you have a calendar application that supports exporting into ICS, then you could use that, of course. But a better method is to download one of the many ICS files out there on the Web. We'll look at this scenario in the next section, and how you should subscribe to, not import, such files.

2. Subscribing to Calendars

Importing is nice, but this operation is like a slice in time because it can't help you if future changes are made to any of the calendars you've imported. What's needed, of course, is a way to automatically synchronize data between remote calendars and Windows Live Calendar so that you can ensure that your calendar is always up-to-date. This, of course, is where the iCal standard comes in. Using the subscribe functionality that's built into Windows Live Calendar, it's possible to subscribe to any number of online calendars and add them to the collection of calendars you view within Microsoft's online service.

Calendars to which you subscribe with Windows Live Calendar will also show up in the Calendar view of Windows Live Mail.

Before you can subscribe to an online calendar, you need to find one. There are several online calendar resources that you can peruse. One of the best is Apple's iCal Library ( because Apple was one of the first major software companies to embrace the iCal standard. Apple's site includes professional sports schedules, worldwide holidays, movie openings, and much more. Another excellent resource is iCalShare (, which lists even more calendars to which you can subscribe, in a bewildering list of categories.

Using either site, or a similar resource, you can browse different calendars until you find one to which you'd like to subscribe. Say you're a Boston Red Sox fan. (I know, who isn't?) If you search for "Red Sox" on iCalShare, you'll see a number of calendars devoted to the schedule of Boston's major league baseball team.


You might think that you could subscribe to one of these calendars simply by downloading it. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Instead, you must jump through some hoops.

  1. Right-click the link to an online calendar and copy its Web address or URL into the clipboard.

  2. Switch to Windows Live Calendar and click the Subscribe button in the toolbar.

  3. In the Import or subscribe to a calendar display, paste the URL for the calendar into the Calendar URL text box.

  4. Pick a Calendar name and color and click Subscribe to Calendar. Windows Live Calendar will connect to the URL, discover details about the calendar, and subscribe. When that process is complete, you'll receive a message stating that the subscription was successful.

  5. Click Done to finish.

Now you will return to the main Calendar view. You will see that the calendar has been added to your list of calendars and that events from that calendar appear in the Calendar view, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Subscribed calendars appear in your Calendar view alongside your own calendars.

There are key differences between subscribed and local calendars as well. Subscribed calendars are read-only, which means you cannot add or change appointments with them. (This is true both on the Web-based Windows Live Calendar and in the Windows Live Mail application.) The people who publish the calendars to which you are subscribing are free to change them, of course. If they do change a calendar you're subscribing to, you will always see the latest changes.

3. Sharing Your Own Calendars with Others

Windows Live Calendar lets you share your own calendars (that is, calendars you've created; you cannot share subscribed calendars) with others using a proprietary (and, as noted previously, limited) Windows Live Calendar feature or, if you dig deep enough, via standard ICS-based publishing.

To do so, click the Subscribe link in Windows Live Calendar and then choose the appropriate calendar from the pop-up menu that appears. You'll then navigate to the Sharing settings page for the selected calendar. By default, you'll see two options here: "Don't share this calendar (keep it private)" (which will be selected) and "Share this calendar." If you choose the latter option, the display will change to offer various sharing options, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. You can share, but not publish, Windows Live Calendar–based calendars.

The following options are available from this interface:

  • Share your calendar with friends and family: Here, you can choose to share your calendar with those who are in your contacts list, which is stored in Windows Live People ; you can also manually add individuals by e-mail address if needed. You add people via the Add people button and then decide, on an individual basis, what sort of access they have. Available access types include co-owner; view, edit, and delete items; view details (the default); view free/busy times, titles, and locations; and view free/busy times. You can also determine which people can see to-do items.

  • Send friends a view-only link to your calendar: In this case, people in your contacts list (and any others you manually add) will be able to view your calendar. You can provide read-only links in various ways, like HTML and RSS, but the one you're most likely going to want is ICS, which provides the Web standards–based publishing functionality we've been talking up.

  • Make your calendar public: If you choose this option, your calendar will be published free and clear on the Web and anyone can view it. We don't recommend this because of the privacy implications. Do you really want the world to know, for example, that you're on vacation and thus your house is empty and unattended for the week?


People you share calendars with will receive an e-mail-based invitation like the one shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Your friends will receive a formal invitation to view your Calendar.


Note that this feature requires Windows Live Calendar to create private URLs for your contacts to use. If these URLs got into the hands of others, they'd be able to view your calendar as well. For this reason, Windows Live Calendar provides a link to reset your calendar URLs, which invalidates the old ones.


If you plan to have your friends subscribe to your Calendar with a non-Microsoft tool (for example, Google Calendar), you may run into problems. This is due to the fact Microsoft prohibits crawling—or access via a search bot—of calendars containing the phrase "/private/" in the URL. The only known workaround is to make your Calendar public.

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