How to Share a Google Calendar: Complete Guide

Table of Contents

Related Post

Table of Contents

As busy people in a digital world, there are many situations where we may want to share a Google calendar with friends, family, coworkers, clients, or whoever. There’s just one problem: All these Google calendar sharing settings are so confusing! 

“All these Google calendar sharing settings are so confusing!”

Trying to figure out which Google Calendar sharing method, if any, will meet your needs is no simple task with the information spread out in a bunch of different support articles. And woe be upon the person who confuses “Public URL to calendar” and “Public address to calendar in iCal format”, only to find out after everyone gets confused because they are looking at an outdated copy of your calendar.

“Woe be upon the person who confuses ‘Public URL to calendar’ and ‘Public address in iCal format'”

This article looks to put an end to the confusion and provide a one-stop-shop to explain:

  1. what are the different methods for sharing a Google Calendar?
  2. how to implement each Google Calendar sharing method; and
  3. which calendar sharing method is best for common scenarios.
I’ll actually start with #3 so you can find the method that will work best for you, and then skip to the instructions for implementing that method.

Choosing the best Google Calendar sharing method for different use cases

If you have two Google accounts and you want to be able to manage both calendars while logged into just one of the accounts (i.e., you don’t want to keep hopping back and forth between browser tabs) use Share with specific people or groups.

The advantage of share with specific people is that you can directly add the calendar from one Google account as a subcalendar on another Google account. 

The biggest shortcoming of share with specific people is that the calendars remain separate — availability on one calendar still does not affect availability on the other calendar. If you need to generate a combined availability and/or have one of your Google Calendars block off time on your other Google calendar, see this article instead: How to sync Multiple Calendars in Google Calendar

Among the Google Calendar sharing methods, secret address in iCAL format is pretty much the only option for sharing a Google Calendar with your Microsoft Outlook account. But this is not the best way to get your Google calendar into Outlook because updates to the Google calendar can take 24 hours or more to be reflected in Outlook. 

Better ways (free and paid) to get your Google Calendar into Outlook—ways that will keep your Google calendar up-to-date in Outlook and even let you block availability in your Outlook based on your Google calendar—are covered in How to Sync Google and Outlook calendars.

If you need to share your Google Calendar with the ability for the person to make changes to your calendar, then use one of Share with specific people or groups and Get shareable link. These two methods are just slightly different mechanism for allowing another Google Calendar user to add your Google calendar as a subcalendar on their Google account.

If you only need to share your Google calendar with view-only (no editing) permissions, you have the additional option of using Public URL to calendarThis method simply allows them to view your calendar in a browser (as opposed to adding your calendar as a subcalendar on their Google account).

If you want to share the calendar with all people inside your organization (i.e., all people whose email address domain (the part after the ‘@’) is the same as yours), you can use Make available for [domain]. For example, for adele@contoso.com this feature is “Make available for contoso.com” and allows sharing her calendar with all people with @contoso.com email addresses.

If you want to share with only specific people in your organization, or if you want to grant specific people more permissions than the rest of your organization, then you can use Share with specific people or groups or Get shareable link. For example, Adele@contoso.com can give all Contoso users”free/busy” permissions, but give her assistant permission to view all details and make changes on her calendar.

Note: If any of these Google Calendar sharing options are grayed out, it is because your Google Workspace admin has disabled them and you will need to contact your Google Workspace administrator to see if they can allow you to share your calendar.

If you need to share your Google Calendar with the ability for the person to make changes to your calendar, then use one of Share with specific people or groups and Get shareable link. These two methods are just slightly different mechanism for allowing another Google Calendar user to add your Google calendar as a subcalendar on their Google account.

If you only need to share your Google calendar with view-only (no editing) permissions, you have the additional option of using Public URL to calendarThis method simply allows them to view your calendar in a browser (as opposed to adding your calendar as a subcalendar on their Google account).

If you need the person to be able to make changes to your calendar:

  • unfortunately none of the Google Calendar sharing methods allow people to make changes to your calendar from outside of Google Calendar.
  • Some workarounds include:

If the person only needs to see your calendar, and does not need to be able to make changes to your calendar, you can use:

  • Public URL to calendarthis will let them simply view your calendar in a web browser
  • Public address in iCAL formatWarning: this works reliably only for getting a one-time snapshot of your calendar.  If they use this link to “subscribe” to your calendar in Outlook or Apple calendar, they will usually be seeing an outdated version of your calendar (the subscription will only update every 24 hours or so)

Share a Google calendar from desktop, iPhone, or Android

Open Google Calendar in a web browser (Sharing a Google Calendar can only be done from a web browser; you cannot share a Google calendar from the calendar app on your phone or computer).

Login to the Google account that owns that calendar you want to share.

In the left side panel, find the calendar that you want to share, click the three dots next to it, and then select Settings and sharing.

Google Calendar
Open settings and sharing for the calendar you want to share.

This will bring up the Google calendar settings.  

In Google Calendar settings, there are six items/settings related to sharing a calendar:

  • share with specific people
  • Get shareable link
  • Public URL to this calendar
  • Embed code
  • Public address in iCal format
  • Secret address in iCal format

Share a Google calendar with a specific person or group

Share with a specific person or group is the most useful way of sharing a Google calendar because:

  1. it gives you the finest level of control over who you share your calendar with and what permissions they get;
  2. the recipient can view the calendar alongside their own calendars in Google Calendar; and
  3. the shared calendar will update in real-time, meaning when you make changes to the calendar they will see the changes almost immediately. As we will see below, this is not the case with some of the other ways of sharing a Google calendar

BUT, share with a specific person or group has a very important limitation: it only works for sharing with another Google Calendar user.

If you need to share with someone who does not use Google Calendar – such as someone with a Microsoft 365, Outlook.com, or apple/iCloud account – then share with a specific user or group is not going to work and you will need to explore the other methods of sharing a Google calendar that are discussed below.

If it is another Google Calendar user you want to share your calendar with, then here is the step-by-step process to share your Google Calendar with a specific user or group. 

In the left side menu of the Google Calendar settings window, click Share with specific people or groups.

Then, click the + Add people and groups button.

Google calendar settings
Invite specific people or groups to share your Google calendar

This will open a popup in which you can enter the email address(es) of the people with which you want to share the calendar and you can also set the permissions ({explained below}) you want to grant to those people:

Google calendar
Select the level of permissions to grant on the calendar.

Once you have entered the email address(es) and selected the desired permissions to grant, click Send.

Google calendar share calendar popup
Click send to invite the specific people with the selected permissions

This will send an email message to to the entered email addresses. The message will include a link to Add this calendar:

Invite to shared Google calendar
Email invite to share a Google Calendar

When the recipient clicks Add this calendar, Google Calendar will open in their browser with a popup to confirm they want to add the calendar. Note: if they were not already logged into Google Calendar, they will first need to login.

Popup to add shared calendar
Click "Add" to confirm you want to add this shared calendar to your account

Clicking Add will add the shared calendar will be added to their Other calendars.

Google calendar other calendars
Shared Google calendar is added as a separate subcalendar

Because the calendar is shared between two Google accounts, both accounts will always see an up-to-date version of the calendar.

The “Get shareable link” feature allows you to get a link that you can share with anyone (not just specific email addresses). When someone visits the link,  your settings under Access permissions for events determine whether that person actually gains access to your calendar.

The shareable link will look something like this:

https://calendar.google.com/calendar/u/0?cid=YWRlbGVAbWFuYWdlbGVn

When someone visits it, it will open Google Calendar in their browser and, once they are logged in to Google Calendar, they will see a popup asking them if they would like to add the calendar:

Popup to add shared calendar

If they click Add, Google Calendar will check if they should have access to the calendar based on your settings under Access permissions for events.

If the calendar owner has granted access to this particular user under Share with specific people or groups, clicking Add will add the calendar as a subcalendar on their Google Calendar account.

If the calendar owner has made the calendar public under Access permissions for events, clicking Add will add the calendar as a subcalendar on their Google Calendar account.

If the calendar owner has made the calendar available to people in their organization under Access permissions for events, and the person visiting the link is in their organization, clicking Add will add the calendar as a subcalendar on their Google Calendar account.

If none of the above conditions apply, the person visiting the link will see a popup informing them they do not have access to the calendar and giving them the option to request access:

You do not have access to this Google Calendar
User visiting this shareable link doe snot have access

Clicking request access will send an email to the calendar owner essentially asking them if they want to add this user under Share with specific people or groups. 

Share Google Workspace calendar with people in your organization

On Google Workspace accounts (not personal Gmail accounts), under Access permissions for events, there is the option to “Make available for [domain]”:

Google calendar make available for domain
"Make available for [domain]" allows people in your organization to see your calendar.

Checking this box will allow people in the same Google Workspace tenant as you (i.e., people whose email address domain is the same as yours) to see your calendar, with the permissions set in the dropdown menu.  So, in this example, Adele@contoso.com is allowing other people with @contoso.com email addresses to see all the details of her calendar. They can add her calendar as a subcalendar on their Google accounts, or they can just view her availability using the “Find a time” feature.

Share Google Calendar with Public URL to calendar

The first URL n the Integrate calendar section of the Google Calendar settings is the Public URL to this calendar:

public URL to calendar
Public URL allows people with permission to view this calendar in a browser

The Public URL to this calendar is a way to share a read-only, web calendar view of a calendar.

If the person visiting the Public URL has access to the calendar — either because it was explicitly shared with them under Share with specific people, or because of the calendar’s settings under Access permissions for events — then the web calendar view looks like this:

Google calendar public URL to calendar
Viewing a Google Calendar with "Public URL to this calendar"

If the person visiting the link does not have access to the calendar — because it is not shared specifically with them and they do not have access based on the calendar’s settings under Access permissions for event — then they will see a read error message telling them “Events from one or more calendars could not be shown here because you do not have the permission to view them.”

Public URL to Google Calendar; viewer does not have access
Visitor to this Google Calendar Public URL does not have permission to view

Share Google Calendar with Embed code

The Embed code in the Integrate calendar section of Google Calendar settings is just the Public URL to this calendar wrapped in an iframe. An iframe is just a bit of HTML that allows you to embed the web calendar view in a website. For example, if you owned www.contoso.com and wanted to show your calendar there, you (or your web developer) would use the embed code for your calendar.

Share Google Calendar with its public address in iCal format

In the Integrate calendar section of Google Calendar settings, there is a Public address in iCal format

Google Calendar public address in ical format
Public address to this Google Calendar in iCal format

In this context, “iCal” does not have anything to do with Apple or iCloud. Rather, “iCal” refers to the iCalendar standard – a standard that was around long before Apple decided to confuse everyone by referring to their calendar application as “iCal.” 

The Public address is usually used in one of two ways:

Importing/transferring the events

If you paste the Public address in iCal format into the address bar of your browser, it will download a copy of your calendar in iCal format.  This file is what the import calendar feature of many calendar apps use to import events from a Google Calendar to another Google Calendar or to a different calendar application, such as Microsoft Outlook or Apple Calendar. (Google Calendar import instructions, Outlook import instructions, and Apple import instructions)

Subscribing to a Google calendar 

The Public address in iCal format is the URL that is used in Google Calendar and Microsoft outlook to “subscribe” to the Google Calendar. The biggest drawback of this approach is that Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook will check the .ics file for updates very infrequently.  Google’s documentation says “ It might take up to 24 hours for changes to show in your Google Calendar.” In practice, I (and many Google support threads) have seen it often take much longer. Microsoft’s documentation is very similar saying that “update can take more than 24 hours.” 

Share a Google calendar with its secret address in iCal format

The secret address in iCal format is like the public address in iCal format, but with one important distinction: the secret address will always return the ics file with full event details, regardless of the settings of the calendar under Access permissions for events

This is why Google warns you not to share the secret address with other people. You should only use the secret address in ical forma for subscribing to your Google calendar from other accounts or applications that you own/control.

Access permissions for events settings

In your Google Calendar settings, there is a section titled Access permissions for events that determine what level access other people have to your calendar. There are up to three checkboxes in this section (only the first checkbox is available on free Gmail accounts, the other two are available on Google Workspace accounts):

Make available to public

  • This option is available on all free Gmail accounts.
  • If you are not allowed to select this checkbox on a Google Workspace account, it is because your administrator has disabled it. 
  • When this box is checked, anyone who has the link to your calendar can see your calendar with the level of permissions you have set in the dropdown menu next to the checkbox.
Google Calendar available to the public
With these settings, anyone can see all details of Adele's calendar

Make available to (people in your organization)

  • When this box is checked, 

The different permissions you can grant when sharing a Google Calendar

Below is an explanation of the different levels of permissions with which a Google calendar can be shared. It’s important to note that, if your Google account is a work or school Google Workspace account, your Google Workspace administrators may have removed some of these options.

See only free/busy (hide details)

  • Check when your calendar is booked and when it has free time, but not the names or details of your events.

See all event details

  • Find details for all events except for the following:
    • Details of events marked as private aren’t visible.
    • Guest list of events without “See guest list” permission isn’t visible.
  • Find the time zone setting for the calendar.
  • Subscribe to email alerts when events are created, changed, cancelled, RSVPed to, or coming up.

Make changes to events

  • Find details for all events, including private ones.
  • Add and edit events.
  • Restore or permanently delete events from the calendar’s trash.
  • Find the time zone setting for the calendar.
  • Subscribe to email alerts when events are created, changed, cancelled, RSVPed to, or coming up.

Make changes and manage sharing

  • Find details for all events, including private ones.
  • Add and edit events.
  • Restore or permanently delete events from the calendar’s trash.
  • Find the time zone setting for the calendar.
  • Change sharing settings.
  • Subscribe to email alerts when events are created, changed, cancelled, RSVPed to, or coming up.
  • Permanently delete the calendar.
Reduce Stress

Stop the multi-calendar chaos

Spend less time managing your calendars and more time getting things done.