Google provides a calander synchronization tool to sync the online Calendar with Outlook as a free download. Documentation as well as the link is located at http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=89955. The tool provides one-way (Gmail to Outlook and Outlook to Gmail) as well as full, 2-way synchronization.
To get started, you provide your Gmail identity, password and choose the synchronization method and the synchronization frequency (in minutes,), during the installation procedure. Installation creates a shortcut on your desktop and an icon on your system tray. I’m using Windows 7, so you may have to customize the system tray in order to see the icon since the default behavior is to just see notifications.
The system tray icon shows the status of the last synchronization, and provides you with the the ability to initiate a manual sync. You can also change the synchronization options (mailbox, password, etc., chosen at installation time.
The calendar synchronization tool works independently of the mail synchronization. Google calendar works independently of Google Mail – they are not connected or related to each other. You see that when you open the calendar and find yourself in a separate browser window. This is something to keep in mind. It doesn’t matter if you use POP3 or IMAP protocol in your connection to Gmail, everything I’ve mentioned so far runs independently of each other.
Most people will have a single account defined in their Outlook program. The Outlook program contains one Calendar. Setting the synchronization frequency to less than the default of 120 minutes should provide you with a satisfactory experience, unless you are a very popular person.
The basic element, so to speak, in Outlook is the account. An account is a mailbox. A mailbox connects to Outlook using a protocol, either POP3, IMAP or MAPI if you use Microsoft Exchange. What happens if you add another email account to Outlook? You simply provide connection parameters to Outlook and it adds a folder in the navigation pane (located on the left-hand side of the window) showing the accounts that you have added. Behind the scenes, Outlook creates a container to manage the accounts. This container is called a “profile.” So, you can create any number of profiles, each with their own collection of email addresses. You use a Windows Control Panel application called mail (32) to manage your profiles and tell Outlook to prompt for profile to use at startup or set one to always be used.
Why would you want to use multiple profiles? Perhaps you have a number of people using the computer and they all use the same logon or the default “Administrator” logon. Perhaps you want to group your email accounts by use such as business or personal. Perhaps you have multiple businesses or multiple people with multiple profile – the mind boggles.
What does this have to do with Gmail Calendar Sync? For one thing there is a lot of buzz in the support forums about the calendarsync tool always asking for a profile. If you have an outlook profile open, and the calendar tool decides to sync, it logs on to the Google mail account and begins the synch process to that calendar in the open profile. It doesn’t care whose profile is open, it just wants to do it’s sync job. If Outlook is closed, the tool will ask you to choose a profile. If Outlook is running, it will sync to it. The Calendar belongs to the profile opened in Outlook.
Let’s take an example. Jim and Jane use the same computer at times and the have a single Windows logon (they have a trusting relationship). The Gmail Calendar sync tool is installed and is connected to one of Jim’s Gmail accounts (email@example.com) and is set to sync every 10 minutes and uses a 2-way method. They each have their own profiles with their respective Gmail accounts set up in their respective profiles and they have Outlook configured to prompt for a profile to be used at startup. Jim is logged in to Outlook, the calendar syncs and all is well. Later, Jane is using Outlook, the tool synchronizes the calendars.
What happens? Jane’s calendar just happened to sync with Jim’s. Later, Jim is in Outlook, the tool syncs and now he has Jane’s appointments in his Outlook since she previously sync’ed her calendar with Jim’s. This will be irritating at first, becoming irritating and will lead to heated exchanges in the support forums, or worse depending on the appointments exposed. Ever wonder why the “better” diaries have locks on them? This will become even more mysterious when they use their “office” computers, individual laptops, netbooks, iPads, and/or mobile phones and then return to the shared computer.
Ok, this is a major design flaw. What to do? First, the single user device is no problem. The problem occurs with multiple Outlook profiles. The solution is amazingly simple. Just set the calendar sync took to synchronize every 9999999999 (or whatever fits in the field) minutes. This will effectively place the tool in manual mode and then use the the system tray monitor to manual sync. This assumes that Jim is logged in and wants to sync his Gmail calendar. When Jane is logged in, she needs to open the system-tray monitor and change the Gmail credential to hers and run a manual sync. Here’s the important part. Pay attention to the credentials that are currently configured in the tool!
Note that this doesn’t solve anything, since you could easily forget to check when you manually sync. Probably the easiest thing to do is to establish separate logins for the shared computer. If you have multiple profiles, run the synch tools with Outlook closed, so the tool will prompt for that appropriate profile to use. See there is a reason for those profile prompts. It’s just that the folks in the Google support forums are not aware of the cause or the solution to the “problem.” You are.
This posting is provided “as is” with no warranties, guaranties or any rights whatsoever. All content is based on the author’s experiences and opinions and is not intended to influence the actions of the reader.This posting is provided “as is” with no warranties, guaranties or any rights whatsoever. All content is based on the author’s experiences and opinions and is not intended to influence the actions of the reader.