27 September 2011

Syncing Gmail, iPhone, Macbook and Facebook calendars

With invitations to events coming in from Facebook and my Gmail account, in addition to dates that I enter into my iPhone calendar manually, having three separate methods to keep track of important dates (Facebook, Gmail and my iPhone), it was getting out of hand.

After a bit of work I have managed to have my iPhone, Gmail, Facebook and my MacBook's iCal calendars all sync completely automatically with each other, supporting the theory that I should now be able to look at or edit any of them and they will all reflect the latest changes, making everything much easier. The part that I was particular fond of was the automatic addition of my Facebook events into the other calendars (especially to my iPhone) as that is the place where a lot of the invitations I receive come from.

All this took a little while to figure out but I have since found it to be extremely handy so I thought I would write up a quick guide on how I went about it in the hope it might help others.

How To Sync Gmail's, iPhone's, MacOS's (iCal) and Facebook's Calendars

Things to note:
- Facebook does not allow you to view dates from the other calenders
- Dates entered into iCal (the calender that comes with MacOS) will not be seen in Gmail, Facebook or iPhone calendars as iCal can only view the dates from the others but not add to them. This is explained in further detail below.

Step 1. Open up your Facebook page and proceed to your 'Events' page on your profile where you should be brought to a screen that lists all your events.  Down the bottom of this page is a link called 'Export', click this and you will be shown a URL in a little window.  Keep this open.

Step 2. In a separate browser window/tab, proceed to your Gmail calender that is included free with your Gmail account. Login and bring up your calendar via the navigation bar at the very top of the page.

Step 3. Once loaded, click the little drop down arrow next to the 'Other calendars' heading and select 'Add by URL'. Copy the URL we found in Step 1 and paste it here. Save this, wait a moment, and your Facebook events should now automatically sync and display within the Gmail calendar.

Note: While your Facebook events will now show in Gmail, this does not work the other way, meaning your Gmail events/dates will not show in your Facebook events list.

Step 4. With your Facebook events now displaying within your Gmail calendar, we now want to link both of these to your iPhone's calendar so that any events/dates entered in will be automatically synced and displayed.

On your iPhone go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Add Account -> Microsoft Exchange. Fill in the fields, leaving the Domain field empty, enter your Username and Password as that of your Gmail account (and not your Apple ID details), and of course, your Gmail email address.

Select 'Next' and a field called 'Server' should appear if successful. Enter in m.google.com into this field and press Next, completing the process. Waiting a moment and then re-opening the Calendar should now display your Gmail dates and your Facebook events.

Helpful link: Proceed to this Google Support page for further details on connecting Gmail and your iPhone.

Step 5. Additionally we can also connect MacOS's iCal to display the events and dates of the other three. On your MacBook open up iCal and proceed to iCal -> Preferences -> Accounts (the top left of your screen) and enter your Gmail username and password into the field. Save that and you should soon see the events added from your Gmail, iPhone and Facebook calendars, which will also stay synced automatically as the other three change.

Note: Adding events into your iCal calendar will not show up in the others (as far as I know).

And that's it. You should now be able to see all your important dates across all four platforms. Just remember that you can only create new events from the Gmail, Facebook and iPhone's calendars (and not iCal). This has worked wonders for me already, having my Facbook events sync directly to my iPhone has made everything much simpler.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


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