How to Sync iCloud and Google Calendars

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Having both a Google calendar and an iCloud calendar is a problem when your coworkers and family depend your calendar showing your accurate availability. This article is going to show you how to sync iCloud and Google calendars so your colleagues see your accurate availability across both calendars. No more living in fear of getting double booked!

Read this article to learn:

  • The problem that arises from having multiple calendars which are not synced. (It is pretty confusing so it helps to lay it out explicitly.)
  • Some things that DON’T work for syncing Google and iCloud calendars (even though many Bing and Google searches suggest they do!)
  • How to use CalendarBridge to automatically, two-way sync iCloud and Google calendars.

The problem with having both Google and iCloud calendars

Consider Adele. At work she has a Google Workspace account associated with her work email address adele@acme.com. But she also has an iCloud calendar associated with adelev2024@iCloud.com and she shares that calendar with her family. The problem is

  • when her Acme coworkers check her availability in Google Calendar, it doesn’t consider her iCloud calendar.
  • when her family members check her iCloud Calendar, it doesn’t consider her Google calendar.
Adele's Google calendar
Adele's Google calendar
Adele's iCloud calendar
Adele's iCloud calendar
Google Calendar find a time
Availability in Google Calendar does not consider her iCloud calendar

So if you have been getting double booked by coworkers who can’t see all your calendars, or if your family members are just annoyed at always having to email you to check your availability, the rest of this article shows you a couple ways to sync your iCloud and Google calendars so that coworkers see your correct availability.

Adding your iCloud calendar to Google Calendar with "import" and "Add calendar from URL"

Common advice for how to sync your iCloud calendar to Google Calendar is to use Google’s “Add calendar from URL” or “Import” features.  Our article on How to Share a Google Calendar: Complete Guide goes into detail what these features are and when they can be useful, but for purposes of this article it suffices to say that neither of these features will keep your Google and iCloud calendars in sync. Here is a short summary of what those features do and their intended use.

Google Calendar “Add calendar from URL” 

When you add calendar from URL in Google Calendar, Google will add it as a secondary calendar in your  account. Because it is a separate calendar from your primary Google calendar, availability on the subscribed calendar will not affect your availability that coworkers see in Google Calendar. Also, because “it might take up to 24 hours for changes to show in your Google Calendar.” it is not useful for viewing a calendar that changes regularly. Rather, “Add calendar from URL” in Google Calendar is really only intended for calendars that don’t change much, such as holidays, sports team schedules, etc. 

Google Calendar “Import” calendar 

The “import” function in Google Calendar is a one-time copy of events to your Google calendar. There is no ongoing connection to the imported calendar. Thus, “import” differs from “Add calendar from URL” in two ways: (1) Google will not periodically check the imported calendar for updates; (2) you can import events into your primary calendar whereas “Add calendar from URL” adds a secondary calendar to your Google Calendar.

The "add from URL" and "import" features of Outlook and Google Calendar do not sync availability, and are generally too slow to be reliable

Adding your Google calendar to iCloud with "Add subscription calendar"

Please note that you should only use the “Add subscription calendar” if for some reason you cannot directly add your Google account to your Mac or iOS device.” Directly adding the Google account will give you full ability to manage your Google calendar from your Mac or iOS device, whereas “Add subscription calendar” only lets you see a read-only copy.

To subscribe to your Google Calendar from Apple Calendar, first you need to get the .ics URL of your Google calendar  (our article How to share a Google Calendar covers that). Then, follow these directions: Using iCloud calendar subscriptions.

Once that’s done, you will be able to see your Google calendar from within the Apple Calendar app. The subscribed calendar will update each time you close and open the Calendar app.

If other Apple Calendar users need to see your Google calendar, you will have to provide them the .ics link to your Google calendar so that they can subscribe to it.

Finally — and most-importantly for this discussion — subscribed calendars in Apple Calendar are separate from your existing iCloud calendars. This means that subscribed calendars won’t affect your availability on your iCloud calendars, and your iCloud calendars will not affect your availability on subscribed calendars. So if your goal is to block off time on one calendar based on the other, “Add subscription calendar” is not the solution.

If you need to block time on your Google calendar based on your iCloud calendar, or visa versa, "Add subscription calendar" is not the solution.

Google's share calendar features

Google Calendar has the feature to “share” your Google calendar with others. The various sharing options are a pretty complicated, but for our purposes here it is enough to point out these limitations of “sharing” your Google calendar:

  • To share a between Google and iCloud, the calendar needs to be made public.
  • Making a calendar public and sharing it has the same limitations as the “Add from URL” feature discussed above — events are added as a separate calendar and do not block off one calendar based on the other.
  • Many companies block the ability to share your Google calendar with people outside your organization.

Using Google Calendar "share calendar" will not sync your Google availability to your iCloud calendar

How to two-way sync Outlook and Google calendars using CalendarBridge

If your calendar syncing needs go beyond syncing one Google calendar to one Office 365 Outlook calendar, CalendarBridge is the best calendar syncing service to do it.

Some example use cases of CalendarBridge: 

  • sync to and from Google calendars
  • sync to and from personal Microsoft calendars (@outlook.com, @hotmail.com. @live.com, and @msn.com addresses)
  • two-way sync between Google and Outlook calendars (i.e., sync Google availability to Outlook and outlook Availability to Google)
  • sync up to 6 calendars in both directions or up to 36 calendars in one direction.

1. Create a CalendarBridge account (7-day free trial)

2. Connect your iCloud and Outlook accounts

Follow these instructions on Connecting your Calendar Accounts to CalendarBridge. CalendarBridge connects to Google via OAuth (“login with Google”) and connects to iCloud with an app-specific password so that we never see your Apple or Google credentials and you can revoke our access at anytime from your Google or iCloud account settings.

3. Configure which calendar events to sync and how to sync them

Each sync connection defines:

  • a source calendar from which to copy events/availability 
  • a destination calendar to which to copy the events/availability
  • privacy settings to control which specific fields/information you want to sync. You can sync all details, no details (just create “busy” slots on the destination calendar), or somewhere in between. 
  • filters to exclude certain events from syncing. 

4. View your synced calendars

CalendarBridge does not store your calendars anywhere. We simply copy events directly between your iCloud and Google calendars. This means that you continue to view your calendars in whichever calendar app you already use — Google calendar, Outlook, the iPhone calendar app . . . wherever!

Why sync your iCloud and Google Calendars with CalendarBridge?

  1. Calendar updates sync in seconds. Unlike the import, upload from file, subscribe from web, and add from URL features built into Google Calendar and Outlook, CalendarBridge provides fast, automatic calendar syncing so you, your colleagues, and family can rely on the availability shown in your calendar.
  2. Privacy controls. With CalendarBridge you can sync as little or as much detail between calendars as you want. If you want to be able to see all the details of your events in both calendars, you can do that.  If you want to make sure even I.T. administrators can’t see the details of your synced events, you can do that too.
  3. Simple setup. Setting up CalendarBridge to sync your iCloud and Google Calendars takes just a few minutes. There is nothing to configure or install on any of your devices.