Tips for using Outlook calendar

Confession: I am not an Outlook Calendar junkie. But if one of my coworkers looks at my calendar, they’ll likely see a smattering of events, tasks, and outside work commitments on my calendar. I also have a very long list of “Shared Calendars” so I can check up on coworkers’ schedules – it’s not lurking if it’s business!

Like most people at my company, I use Outlook Calendar to remind myself and everyone else (who cares to know) when I am and am not available. Outlook Calendar is an invaluable tool if you’re in the habit of checking if someone is available first before you call them or schedule a meeting.

What are the basics of Outlook Calendar? What do you need to know to show if you’re free during that task reminder or busy during that two-hour webinar? Can you add your own reminders for personal events? If I can do it – so can you!

Let’s look at your calendar

To view your own calendar, open up Outlook and click Calendar or the Calendar icon on the Folder Pane on the left side.

If you can’t find the Folder Pane, go to View on the Ribbon. In the Layout group, select Folde rPane and then Normal or Minimized.

Add an event

To add an event to your calendar, you can

  • Double-click on the Calendar. For example, double-clicking on 11am on Monday will automatically create an event for that time.
  • On the Ribbon under the Home tab, click on New Appointment or New Meeting (if you’re inviting other people).

You’ll now have a new window to create the appointment.

You can…

  • Add a Title to describe the appointment
  • Modify the Start time and End time, or mark it as an All day event (for example, for vacation days)
  • Add a Location (is this a meeting room? Is it a call on the conference line?)
  • Under Options on the Ribbon, you can mark your status for this appointment (Busy, Out of the Office, Free, etc.). If you have a Teams or Skype integration, this is especially helpful to show your status to other people when they want to contact you.
  • By default you’ll be reminded 15 minutes before the appointment, but you can change this under Options as well.

There are also some advanced features.

Inviting attendees

To invite other attendees, click on the Invite Attendees button on the ribbon. If you started with an appointment, this will convert it to a meeting.

This will add the Required and Optional fields where you can add people, and it will bring up the Room Finder (this feature requires additional setup before you can use it). Simply type in email addresses for your attendees, and when done, click Send.

Creating recurring events

Do you have a company meeting the first Monday of every month? Need to submit your expense report every Friday at 3pm? Recurring events will keep you on track!

Next to the Start time and End time fields, click the Make Recurring option.


The Appointment Recurrence window will pop up.

Here you can set how frequently the appointment recurs, even down to whether it should be the last weekday of the month or every day every week except on Saturday and Sunday.

At the bottom of the window, you can set whether recurrence has an end date.

Time zones

In some cases, you may be setting up appointments with people who are in different time zones. It’s helpful to set the timezone on your appointment – if you do, it becomes clearer what the time really is (who wants to show up for a meeting at the wrong time because you forgot the other person was in California and not Iowa like you?).

To do this, just select the Time Zones checkbox next to the time and date fields. This adds the time zone fields.

Marking an appointment as private

Depending on the default settings of your calendar, it’s possible that anyone viewing your calendar can see every appointment you have. But what if you want to add some private events? It is possible to show when you are busy or out of the office, but hide the name of the event.

To do this, go to the Tags group on the Ribbon while you’re creating an event. Click on the Private lock icon.


Viewing someone else’s calendar

And last but not least, how do you view someone else’s calendar to see their events and appointments

  1. Go to Add Calendar under Manager Calendars on the Ribbon.
  2. Select From Address Book or Open Shared Calendar. Choose from the list or start typing a name.
  3. Click OK.

This calendar will be added to your Shared Calendars list in the Folder Pane.