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Outlook – Combining Calendars

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Organising events isn’t always a straight forward task.

While Outlook has some great features to help view other peoples availability there is nothing better than seeing everything in one simple view!

Fortunately Outlook has a trick up its sleeve that makes this really simple.

This feature is also available in Outlook 2007 but it's been given a lot more polish in Outlook 2010.

Here's the scenario.

I'm head of a sales team and I have access to the calendars of my team members, Jim and Tom.

Outlook allows me to view each team members calendar side-by-side but as the calendars get busy it's hard to see when the free time is. This can get even worse when you're dealing with a larger number of people.

So here are my calendars side by side. (We're using empty calendars to make it easier to demonstrate)

Image 1 - Side by side

While we're here I've also used two other new features in Outlook 2010

Calendar colours - Outlook 2010 let's me choose a specific colour for each calendar displayed. In previous versions Outlook choose this automatically for you.

Calendar groups - When dealing with a large number of calendars it can be hard to find the ones you need. Outlook 2010 lets you create a calendar group. I've created a group just for my sales team. This helps keep your calendars more organised. Notice how the calendar colour is also displayed here.

Image 2 - Calendar group

Right back to our calendars.

So while I've got a broad view of what's going on it could get tough to scheule a meeting between a large group of busy people.

If you look at the tab for each calendar you'll notice some arrows

Image 3 - Tabs

By clicking these arrows it allows me to place calendars on top of each other (this is called overlaying the calendar)

I can do this with just certain calendars or all of them!

So first I'll combine my calendar with Toms

Image 4 - Combine Tom

This allows me to compare our combined calendar with Jims

Next I'll overlay Jims calendar with the already overlayed calendar.

Image 5 - Combine All

Now we have one calendar with the whole teams appointments combined.

A couple of things to note here.

Each appointment has it's colour set to match the calendar colour. This makes it easy to see which appointment belongs to who.

The background colour is Blue - this is because my calendar is the primary calendar - you'll see my appointments are in bold with the others slightly dimmed.

I can set any calendar as the primary calendar just by clicking on it's tab

I'll make Toms calendar active

Image 5 - Tom Active

This helps emphasise a specific persons appointments over the others.

I can even make changes using the combined view - I could reschedule Jims meeting to free up some space. Any changes in the combined view are applied directly to the calendar underneath it.

Outlook has the ability to open calendars such other users mailboxes, team calendars, SharePoint calendars, internet based calendars, room booking  and resouce booking calendars.

If you'd like to know more about Outlook 2010 please contact us