Merging Outlook calendars for successful office communication

30-second overview:

Merging Outlook calendars helps in office calendar planning:

  • Merging Outlook calendars lets you see other people’s calendars
  • It lets you make appointments for others
  • It’s easy to merge Outlook calendars
  • There are many benefits, but there are also limitations
  • If you need more than Outlook can provide: analytics, multi-employee views, resource scheduling etc. apps are available

Once upon a time

People used to organize and schedule their lives with planners and calendars. The idea was simple. A big book contained every day of the year with blank pages – sometimes with to-do lists or inspirational quotes – and an individual would write in the book what they were intending to do that day. Sometimes, the planners and calendars also included pages for contacts where the user could write information for personal and professional contacts.

All the information was in one place and it was easy to see where your work life and personal life did or didn’t overlap. The system was great until it was widely agreed computer software was a superior way to organize work lives and as Outlook became the market leader in professional email services it also added calendar options.

The “excitement” of buying a new planner every new year was gone, this has been replaced by knowing there is a seamless roll over each year from within the depths of your computer software. One thing remained the same, however. Coordinating a calendar date with a co-worker to find a time for a meeting required yelling across the office, a phone call, or getting out of your chair and walking across the office. Find a date, find a time, write it down in your calendar planner. Done.

Even with Outlook or Google, scheduling an event with a co-worker can mean a text, call, or email before it can be locked into your online calendar. Unless, of course, you have access to a coworker’s calendar or even be able to see your own professional calendar with your personal calendar. Scheduling a meeting can involve first checking your own calendars – work, personal, family – before you coordinate with the people you are trying to set up a meeting with. And that’s all before you check the calendar for your favorite sports team (the Olympics, the FIFA World Cup play havoc with many schedules every four years).

One way to solve this multi-screen, multi-calendar issue is by merging your Outlook calendars. Merging your calendars saves all items in one calendar. Below is a nine-step guide that you can follow to successfully merge calendars in Outlook.

How to merge calendars in Outlook

  1. In your Outlook calendar, click on the File tab
  2. Click Options
  3. Click Advanced
  4. Under Export, click Export
  5. Click Export to a file, and then click Next
  6. Click Outlook Data File (.pst), and then click Next
  7. Click the calendar folder that you want to export, clear the Include subfolders check box, and then click Next
  8. In the Save exported file as box, enter a folder location and file name, or click Browse to select a folder and enter the file name
  9. Click Finish

How to view Outlook calendars of large teams

Outlook’s merge calendar feature works very well for individuals, but not so well if you want to look at or manage work colleagues’ calendars. For an individual, merging and overlaying personal and work calendars works very well because the calendars are for the same individual. Should two or more allocations of time conflict with each other they are easy to recognize and resolve before they cause an issue. Merging calendars helps individuals manage their personal and work life better so that there are no overlaps or conflicts between their work and personal calendar.

Yet when looking at your co-worker’s schedules, merging and overlaying calendars doesn’t work efficiently because individuals work at the same time. Overlapping appointments will appear as conflicts even if they are not. This makes a merged calendar very cumbersome and confusing and is not ideal for viewing a work colleague’s calendar.

How Outlook Displays Merged Calendars

Outlook Merged Calendars

This is an example of Outlook in ‘Overlay’ mode. This is for just 4 calendars. Everything is, not surprisingly, focussed around working hours, which makes the calendar very confusing.

If you need to view calendars of other work colleagues, Outlook can be displayed as discrete calendars for each person or in the latest version of Outlook for Windows, as a row per person. These views both work well for viewing under five people over one or two days. If you want to view more employee calendars over many days, you will need some add on software.

How Outlook Displays Multiple Calendars

multiple-outlook-calendars

Outlook’s multi-calendar mode makes it easier to see what each person, but harder to find free time on a particular date. It’s clearer than overlay mode, but not ideal.

We find Timewatch’s Whitespace® system provides exactly this – the ability to view the calendars of large teams over days, weeks, or months. It can also provide advanced functionality including: definable employee group views, employee skills matrix, capacity views, conflict resolution, booking people by availability, skill and any other important attributes as well as enhanced security and reporting – all features not possible in Outlook itself.

How Timewatch Improves Viewing Of Colleague’s Calendars

Outlook Shaard Calendar View

Timewatch’s Whitespace® system displays multiple calendars very clearly. This example shows more calendars than Outlook over twice as many days. Each person’s calendar is very clear and it is easy to see who is doing what, when and where people have free time.

Can I just copy and paste Outlook calendars?

Another way to combine multiple calendars is to copy and paste data. Google dumps all events on the same day into one calendar but Outlook allows users to place two different calendars side-by-side. It’s one of the benefits of having a platform that’s primarily desktop-based instead of mobile-app based. But it’s not a great solution if you prefer to have all the events in one calendar — like the Google Calendar-style.

However, if you want to continue to save the items in different calendars, but view them together, consider using the calendar overlay feature. For more information, see View multiple calendars at the same time. Another way to merge Outlook calendars is to use copy and paste. It’s a little clunky but definitely an option if you want to merge calendars in Outlook..

  1. First, open the Calendar by selecting the icon at the bottom of the screen
  2. Under My Calendars in the left column, right-click on the calendar that has events you want to merge
  3. Calendar data is stored in folders
  4. You’ll now need to select the folder into which you want to paste the calendar data
  5. Press OK

How to overlay Microsoft Outlook calendars

Another way to look at multiple calendars is to overlay the calendars. Rather than merging calendars you have the option of layering one on top of another. This layered method is the easiest way to see all your events without having to do imports and exports.

  1. Open Microsoft Outlook
  2. Click Calendar in the Navigation pane
  3. Click > to expand your Folder pane
  4. Check all the calendars you’d like to overlay
  5. Right-click one of the checked calendars
  6. Select Overlay from the menu
  7. Repeat this step if you have more calendars to overlay

The result will be a layered calendar showing all your combined events for the timeframe you are looking at. Each calendar event will be colored to show its origin. The colors correspond to the ones you set for each calendar. You’ll probably want to hover over calendar events to get details such as End times and Reminder notices.

The result will be a layered calendar showing all your combined events for the timeframe you are looking at. Each calendar event will be colored to show its origin. The colors correspond to the ones you set for each calendar. You’ll probably want to hover over calendar events to get details such as End times and Reminder notices.

Outlook limitations

In a previous article, we outlined 12 important limitations in Outlook multi-calendars along with possible ways to work around them. Some of the most important limitations are:

  • Outlook has limits to the number of calendars or days you can view
  • There are only five appointment types in Outlook
  • Outlook has no customer or project fields in appointments
  • There is no security at the appointment level in Outlook
  • There is no reporting in Outloook

A company-wide alternative

Timewatch’s Whitespace&nbsp® system overcomes functional limits in Outlook by adding powerful resource scheduling features. Available to any organization that uses Office 365 or Exchange, Whitespace&nbsp® adds the following:

  • Configurable multi-employee views over days/weeks/months
  • New appointment fields including Customer & Project
  • Employee Skills matrix
  • Powerful availability search tools
  • Schedule by combination or requirements – skills, location, proximity, availability etc.
  • Utilization and availability views
  • Conflict management system
  • Additional appointment types
  • Reporting on Outlook calendars

Want to Learn More?

Timewatch has over 20 years experience developing add-ons for Outlook and helping customers broaden their use of Outlook. Even if you are interested in just one or two of the Outlook enhancements listed above Whitespace® can help. The system is configurable, so you can start with a simple configuration and add more functions as you need them.

If you have any questions or want to see the system in operation, contact us via chat, or book a free consultancy call with a product specialists.

Speak with a specialist

Learn more about merging Outlook calendars, or Whitespace&nbsp® for Outlook

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