Meetings, assignments, and other items that impact our schedule--they all have one thing in common. We're often notified of them through email.
It can be inconvenient to close your Microsoft Outlook email and open another app to find your appointments and work. And then reopen Outlook again once you've got the schedule info you need. It's inconvenient, and it's also unnecessary.
Many people don't realize the MS Outlook has a calendar built right into it. If you know what to do, you can easily switch between your email inbox and your Microsoft Outlook Calendar.
In this tutorial, you'll learn how to use the Outlook Calendar. I'll explain how to add tasks and appointments to your calendar. We'll also explore how to share an Outlook calendar.
How to Use Your Microsoft Outlook Calendar—A Quick Overview (Video)
Outlook has the perfect tool to help you create and maintain your schedule, which is the Microsoft Outlook calendar tool.
If you want to use Outlook to track your appointments and meetings as well as your tasks, the Outlook calendar can help. Here is a quick video guide on how to use the MS Outlook Calendar:
Learn even more about the Microsoft Outlook calendar by following the step-by-step instructions below.
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How to Access Your Microsoft Outlook Calendar
Your Outlook Calendar is a handy tool that you can reach quickly and easily from with your email by just clicking on a single icon if you know how.
Step 1. View a Calendar Thumbnail
Start with your Outlook inbox open:
Find the Calendar icon in the lower left of your email interface (below the Navigation pane). If you hover your mouse over the icon, you’ll see a thumbnail of your calendar with your upcoming appointments.
2. Open Your Calendar View
To open your calendar, click the Calendar icon. Your Microsoft Outlook calendar appears:
Notice the default view is of about a month’s time. This is called the Month view. The current date is highlighted, although you can select various calendar days to work with.
The Outlook calendar also includes some neat features:
- There’s a local weather report at the top of the calendar. Customize this information by entering your city name or zip code.
- There are thumbnails of the months before and after the current month on the left of the screen. To hide these thumbnails, grab the right side of the pane containing the thumbnails and drag it to the left.
- There’s a search bar at the top right of the calendar. You can search through
calendar events by key words or phrases.
Now that we've explored the month view, we can take a look at some of the views available.
3. Change Your Calendar View
can change your Calendar View. At
the top of the Outlook calendar click View
from the menu:
On the View tab, you’ll see various settings that will allow you to customize the way your calendar looks. The five we want to focus on for this tutorial are:
- Day. The Day view allows you to see the events of a day. The Day view looks much like a page in a paper planner. Use the scroll bar on the right side of the Day view to move up and down on the page.
- Work Week. The Work Week view lets you see five days of your schedule (Monday through Friday) at a time.
- Week. The Week view is like the Work Week view, except it includes the weekends. This view can be helpful if you work non-traditional hours or if you include personal appointments on your calendar.
- Month. We’ve already examined the Month view, which allows you to see a month at a glance.
- Schedule View. The Schedule View allows you to see a day’s appointments in bar graph form. The let’s you spot conflicts and overlapping commitments quickly and easily.
open a view, click on the icon for the calendar view you want to open. For this
example, let’s click on the Schedule
View icon. The Schedule View
that this example Schedule View
already has two sets of overlapping appointments. Knowing about the schedule
conflict lets you manage your time efficiently. You can plan to attend only one
of the meetings and reschedule the other. Or, you could attend part of each of
this Schedule View illustrates that there’s
a breakfast meeting set to begin at 7:00 a.m.-- before the start of the work
Note: The various views also appear on the Home tab of your Outlook calendar, and you
can also access them from there.
to Create an Appointment or Task
You can add various types of items to your Microsoft Outlook calendar, including:
- Appointments. An appointment typically just involves you and one other person. For example, you set appointments with your doctor or accountant. Often (but not always) an appointment is set with someone outside your organization.
- Meetings. A meeting usually involved a group of people. If you’re the meeting organizer, you would be responsible not only for scheduling the meeting, but also for sending out meeting invitations.
task is time you block off on your calendar to meet certain goals and
You can also set any item to be a recurring item or a multi-day item.
Step 1. Set Up a New Appointment
from any calendar view, but make sure that you’re on the Home tab. For this example, we’ll start with the Month view open:
the New Appointment icon. A blank Appointment screen displays:
Type your appointment information in appropriate fields. Here’s a brief description of each field and how to fill each one out:
- Subject. Type a brief description of your appointment.
- Location. Enter the location where your appointment will occur.
- Start Time. Type the date and time your appointment will begin. Click the calendar thumbnail to select a month and day. Click the down arrow to the right of the time to choose a time. Check the toggle box to the right of this field if the event will last all day.
- End Time. Enter the date and time your appointment ends. Use the calendar thumbnail and down arrows.
To make your appointment last more than one day, select a date for the End Time that is after the Start Time date.
Caution: If your selected dates and times overlap with another appointment or meeting, you may see a warning in the upper left of the Appointment screen. However, Outlook will still allow you to add the conflicting appointment.
the big square below the appointment information, type any notes you’ve got
about the appointment. In the example below, I’ve filled the Appointment screen out with information
about a parent/teacher conference:
schedule a recurring appointment, click the Recurrence icon in the Ribbon
(it looks like a circle). The Appointment
Recurrence dialog box displays:
a Recurrence pattern for the
appointment. You can also define how long the appointment will continue to
recur. In the example above, I’ve set up a monthly parent/teach conference. When
you’re done, click OK to return to
the Appointment screen.
you’ve finished entering appointment information, click the Save & Close icon in the upper left
of your Appointment screen. The
appointment is added to your calendar.
2. Set Up a New Meeting
you need to gather a group together for a business project or a social
gathering, you’ll find the New Meeting
tool helpful. Start with the Outlook calendar open:
Home > New Meeting. A New Meeting
Invitation screen opens:
Use this screen to schedule a meeting and invite meeting participants. Here’s a quick overview on how to fill out the meeting invitation:
- The From field defaults to your primary or default email.
- Click on the To field to select participants for your meeting from your Address Book.
- Enter a brief description of your meeting in the Subject field.
- Type the meeting location in the location field or use the down arrow at the right of the field to select from recently used locations.
- Select a start date and time and an end date and time. If the meeting will last several days, make the start date after the end date.
- If the meeting will last all day, check the box next to All day event.
you’ve filled out the meeting information, use the box below the message header
to write a brief note to message participants. Here’s an example of what a
completed meeting invitation might look like:
this is to be a recurring meeting, use the Recurrence
icon in the Ribbon to define how
often the meeting will occur.
your invitation is ready to send, click the Send button in the upper left of the window. Your meeting is added
to the calendar. All the recipients you included in the To field will receive a meeting invitation attachment for the
more about sending messages in MS Outlook in this tutorial:
This article can help you to write an effective email to send with your meeting invitation:
Step 3. Set Up a New Task
differ from appointments and meetings in that they typically just involve you.
You can set up tasks on your calendar to function as sort of an online to do
list. You can also use the task function in the Outlook calendar to assign a
task to another person or to send status reports.
set up a new task, once again start with an open calendar. Click Home > New Items. A pop-up menu displays:
the Task option. The New Task window appears:
Type the task name in the Subject line. Pick a Start date and a Due date for the task. If you like, you can also assign values to following fields by clicking the down arrow next to each field and making a selection:
- % Complete
you want the system to send you a reminder, check the Reminder checkbox. You can also use the Recurrence icon in the Ribbon
to make the task a recurring one. Or define the task as lasting more than
one day by choosing a different start and end date.
more information or instructions about the task in the box below the header
When you’ve finished filling out the New Task window, click Task > Save & Close. Your task is added to your calendar’s to do list, but it won’t appear on your calendar unless you turn on the Task view.
your calendar’s task list, Go to View
> To-Do Bar. A pop-up menu appears:
the Tools option. A pane opens on
the right of your calendar. Your task list appears in the lower right of your
Microsoft Outlook calendar beneath the thumbnail of the month’s calendar:
To open a task up and see more details or update it, double-click on the task. You can also flag a task as urgent by clicking the checkbox to the right of it. The task To-Do bar view remains open until you close it. If you switch back to your email inbox, the task list remains visible in the lower right corner of your MS Outlook window:
close the task list, click the X in the upper right corner.
4. How to Delete a Calendar Item
an appointment or meeting from your Microsoft Outlook calendar quickly. Scroll
to the calendar view that contains the calendar item you want to remove. Click
on the calendar item to select it (in this case, an appointment), then
right-click. A pop-up menu appears:
the illustration above I’ve selected an appointment with just one other
participant. If I had selected a meeting with more than one participant, the
pop-up menu option would be Cancel Meeting. Upon selecting the Cancel Meeting option, I’d be given the
opportunity to send a cancellation notice to all meeting participants.
the Delete option from the pop-up menu.
If the item is recurring item, you’ll get the opportunity to choose whether you
want to delete all instances of the calendar item (Delete Series) or just the single occurrence (Delete Occurrence) you’ve selected. The calendar item is removed
from the calendar. The Delete Occurrence
option is great to use if you’ve got a regular appointment, but need to cancel
one instance of it due to a vacation or other schedule conflict.
process to remove a task from your task list is even simpler. Simply click on
the task in your To Do list, then
right-click on it. Select the Delete option
from the pop-up menu.
to Quickly Add a Meeting or Task From an Email Message
of the convenient things about the MS Outlook calendar is that your calendar
doesn’t have to be open for you to add a calendar item. Add a calendar item
directly from an email message. Here’s what to do:
1. Select an Email Message
Start with your email inbox open. Click on a message to select it. Then double-click on the message to open it:
In the example above, I’ve been sent an email invitation to a meeting. The email wasn’t sent as a calendar invite, but I want to add the event to my Outlook calendar. One way to do that is to use the Reply with Meeting icon on the Ribbon. (It looks like a calendar with an arrow.)
you click on the Reply with Meeting
icon, a reply opens—but most importantly it’s in the format of a meeting:
that the location information is blank and that the date and time default to
the current date and time. You’ll need to correct this info using the details
found in the original email. Next, type in your email reply to the original
sender. When you’re ready, click the Send
button on the left.
You’ve just emailed a response to the person who emailed you the meeting notification and added the meeting to your calendar in a single step!
2. Add a Task to Your Calendar Task List from and Email
also easy to add a task to your MS Outlook task list if you’ve got the To-Do Bar view open. Start with your
email inbox open. Click on a message to select it, then drag the selected
message to the task list in the To-Do
Bar on the right of your inbox:
see a red line in the task list where the new task is about to be inserted. Once
the email is inserted into your task list, double-click on it to view the
Note: Although Outlook will insert the email into your task list, the message will
also remain in your email inbox.
to Get Your Outlook Calendar to Send You Reminders
Another convenient Outlook feature is the ability to have the system remind you before an appointment or meeting. To activate the reminder feature as you’re setting up a new meeting or appointment, click the down arrow on the Reminder icon in the Ribbon (it looks like a bell):
how far in advance of the meeting or appointment you want the reminder to
appear from the pop-up. Then, click the Sound
icon at the bottom of the pop-up to select a reminder sound.
your reminder has been set up, a reminder pop-up will appear each time you open
your email or calendar:
get a reminder to stop appearing, click the Dismiss button. If the window is reminding you of multiple calendar
items, you’ll need to click the Dismiss
to Share a Microsoft Outlook Calendar
Share your calendar through email or by giving others access. This could be helpful if you want to share parts of your calendar with a team member or if you’re trying to schedule a time to get together with someone. There are three ways you can share a calendar:
- Email. Share part of your calendar through email.
- Share feature. If your Microsoft Outlook installation runs through the Microsoft Exchange Server, you can give someone else access to your calendar. You can also use the Set Calendar Permissions icon to further define who can access your calendar and what level of access they have.
- Publish online. Publish your calendar to an online server to provide access to others.
my Outlook installation doesn’t run on a Microsoft Exchange Server we’ll focus
on the first and third methods of sharing your Microsoft calendar in this
a Calendar through Email
your calendar open, go to the Home > E-mail Calendar. A blank email message appears with the Send a Calendar via Email dialog box on
you’ve got more than one calendar set up, click the down arrow in the Calendar field to select which calendar
you want to share. Next, click the down arrow next to the Date Range field to specify which calendar dates to share. Then,
click the down arrow in the Detail box
to choose a level of detail to share—choose between the following detail
- Availability only. The email recipient will see when you’re available and when you’re free. They won’t see what your meetings and appointments are.
- Limited details. The email recipient will see only the subject lines of your meetings and appointments and when they’re scheduled.
- Full details. The recipient will see your meetings and appointments are and the location of each of them. They will also see more details about each meeting or appointment.
Mark the checkbox if you only want the shared calendar to show working hours. If your
working hours aren’t defined, click the Set
working hours hyperlink to set them. When you’ve finished, click the OK button in the Send a Calendar via Email dialog box. Then click the Send button to send the email.
The email recipient receives and email with your schedule in the text of the email and a calendar attachment showing your schedule.
2. Share a Calendar by Publishing It Online
can also publish your calendar online to a shared server. With your calendar
open, go to the Home > Publish Online icon. The Publish Calendar to Custom Server
dialog box appears:
Start by listing the URL for the server where you’ll publish your calendar. Next, define the date range that you wish to share. For the Detail option choose between: Availability only, Limited Details, and Full Details. If you only want to publish your calendar between working hours, click the checkbox.
When you’ve finished, click the OK button. Follow any prompts that appear.
You've just learned how to use your Microsoft Outlook calendar right. Getting your Outlook calendar set up properly can save you time and help you to be more productive.
Now that you've got your schedule in order by using the Outlook calendar, you may want to tackle your email inbox. For a free guide to managing a cluttered inbox, grab a copy of our FREE eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Inbox Zero Mastery. It's packed with advanced email inbox management techniques.
Why not start cleaning up your email inbox today?