It's an age-old problem - well, it is in technology terms, anyway. You've got one or more Microsoft Outlook calendars and also one or more Google calendars that you need to keep in sync so that you don't double-book meetings and you don't miss them.
It used to be relatively simple to do this, but the official tool from Microsoft was discontinued and removed years ago. These days there are various apps, services and workarounds which can make various things happen, and the right one for you will depend upon exactly what you need to happen and how much you're willing to spend.
Can I sync Google and Outlook calendars?
First ask yourself if you really need to sync Google and Outlook calendars. You might think you do, but there are several alternative approaches which might solve your problem.
For example, if you have an iPhone or Android phone you should be able to add multiple accounts and therefore multiple calendars.
This approach usually means that Google and Outlook calendars appear together in the same app. This isn't syncing, but it does mean you can see two or more calendars in the same app and same view.
If you're using a PC or laptop with the Outlook application in Windows, it could be time to ditch it and move to the online version, Outlook.com, which supports multiple calendars.
There are several other advantages of using an online email / calendar service: you can log on from any computer with an internet connection, and you don't have any syncing issues as everything is stored online.
Just be aware of the drawbacks of these approaches. The main one is that, in a business environment anyone checking to see if you're available at a certain time won't see all your calendars: they'll only see, say, the Microsoft or Google one you use for work. That's where proper syncing becomes important.
Apps & services for syncing Outlook and Google Calendars
If you don’t want to use any of our workarounds below, you can use an app or service that really does sync Google and Outlook calendars. Here are a few of them you might like to try, some of which are free, but may have limitations which prove to be deal breakers. However, as they're free, you can at least try them out to see if they are good enough.
SyncGene can sync contacts, calendars and tasks automatically across iPhone, Android, Outlook, Gmail and apps. There is a free version which is limited to two data sources and does not offer automatic syncing, but a paid-for subscription works out at $4.95 per month. If you do subscribe, bear in mind there's a 14-day refund policy, so ensure you're happy before that time is up.
CalendarBridge is a new online service which can not only sync up to 10 of your Microsoft and Google calendars, but also offers some very useful options. One is that you can choose to sync only your busy or free times, which you can ensure personal events aren't synced to your work calendar. You can also choose not to display the information about events synced from another calendar, so it will only show the time as busy. The service doesn't see or store your Google or Microsoft logins and works directly on the email servers, so your synced calendars are viewable and available on any of your devices. It costs $4 per month, but this is a 50% discount off the usual $8 per month per user. Fortunately there's a seven-day trial which doesn't ask for credit card details.
Sync2 (image below) syncs Outlook with Google Calendar and does a lot more besides for $59.95 per year (discounts are available). It can sync on a schedule or whenever a change in Outlook is detected.
OggSync does a similar job and is now on version 10, and costs $29.95 a year per user.
gSyncit v5 is a $19.99 Outlook add-in that enables one and two-way syncing between Outlook and Google calendar and is highly recommended by those who use it.
Yet another option is Scand Outlook4Gmail which syncs your Outlook calendar with your Google calendar. It can also sync contacts and a single licence costs $28.98.
Free apps to sync Google and Outlook calendars
Calendar Sync appears to be the perfect replacement for the old Google sync tool for Outlook users. It’s a free app that is very easy to use and does exactly what you want. Note, though, that the free version will only sync events within 30 days of the sync date, so if you need to sync recurring events, you need Calendar Sync Pro which costs $9.99.
Some people like Calendar Sync, while others says it causes problems.
Another option is Outlook Google Calendar Sync, which is free and regularly updated. It can sync events including attendees and reminders. It doesn't have to be installed and works behind web proxies. It's certainly worth a try.
Pick and use just one calendar
So, there are plenty of solutions if you definitely need to sync your calendars. But it's worth considering if you can manage but using only one calendar, if at all possible. We understand that it's useful to use multiple email providers, but when it comes to your calendar, why not just pick one and use just that?
It simplifies scheduling appointments and events and solves the sync problem instantly. Both Google and Microsoft support multiple calendars, such as work and private, and offer single calendar or combined views. (This applies whether you're using a mobile device or a PC or laptop, by the way.)
When adding a new event, you can choose which calendar to add it to. This is the only complication, as it's all too easy to add an event to the wrong calendar. But at least you'll have no problems with syncing.
If this sounds like a good idea, you might want to export the data from one calendar to another rather than manually replicate existing events and appointments. Here's how.
How to export a Google calendar
To export events from Google Calendar you'll need to use the web version on a PC or Mac. Click the drop-down menu next to the relevant calendar in the My Calendars section on the left and choose Calendar Settings. Then scroll down and click Export this calendar. It downloads as a zip, so copy the .ics file out.
From the main Google Calendar page, click the three dots to the right of one of your calendars, then click Settings and sharing.
Now click Import & export near the top of the left-hand menu and you'll see an option to export all your calendars as a zip file.
How to import Google Calendar to Outlook
To import Google Calendar into the Outlook Windows application, go to File>Open and export>Import and export. Select the option to import an iCalendar (.ics) file.
You might also like to check out 11 ways to use Google Calendar like a pro.
Can I export an Outlook calendar?
To export your Outlook calendar (from the Outlook application), go to File>Open and export>Import and export. Select Export to a file and save it to a .csv file. To import it into Google Calendar, click the down arrow next to Other calendars and select Import calendar.
Then click the three dots to the right of one of your calendars, followed by Settings and sharing. The import option will appear at the top left. Alternatively, click the + button next to Add a colleague's calendar.
How to import a calendar using Outlook.com
If you use the Calendar section of Outlook.com, you can't export, but you can import.
To do that, click Add calendar then choose From file in the menu and navigate to your Google Calendar .ics file to import it.
How to view Outlook and Google calendars together
On an Android phone or tablet, install the free Microsoft Outlook app from the Google Play Store. (You can't simply add a Microsoft or Outlook account in the Android 'add account' setting, unfortunately. You can try adding an Exchange account, but it doesn't work with all Microsoft accounts.)
When you first install it on your phone a message pops asking you if you want to link it to other account, including Gmail. Choose this, and your calendars are synced.
iPhone & iPad
The Calendar app on an iPhone and iPad can display a combined Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar too. Go to Settings, Mail, Contacts, Calendars and tap Add Account.
Use the options to add Google and Outlook.com accounts. Accept the offer to sync calendars and that’s it. Events added to Google Calendar, Outlook.com Calendar or Outlook if it’s synced with Outlook.com, automatically appear in the iOS Calendar app.
One way to make an appointment appear in both Google and Outlook calendars simultaneously is to simply invite yourself by entering your email address when creating a new event. You basically create a meeting with yourself, so in Google Calendar you would invite yourself by adding your Outlook or Outlook.com email address.
Outlook adds a calendar invitation from Google as an unconfirmed event. You can leave it like this or click the Accept button in the email to confirm it. Outlook.com does not automatically add invitations to the calendar and you have to click Accept in the email.
You can manually accept emailed invitations sent from Outlook/Outlook.com to Google Calendar in Gmail, but there is a better way. Click the gear button in Google Calendar and selecting Settings. On the General tab is an option to Automatically add invitations to your calendar.