For a long time, anyone who wanted to use their computer to manage their diary had to turn to dedicated third-party tools such as Microsoft Office Outlook, since pre-Vista Windows lacked even the most basic calendar function. Now, however, all versions of Vista come with Windows Calendar. Using Windows Calendar’s advanced features, it is possible to create multiple calendars so personal and business appointments can be kept separate. Calendars can even be created in groups as required, shared with others via email, or published to a web server. There is also the option of subscribing to calendars that have been created by others — either shared calendars belonging to friends and family, or lists of sporting fixtures and other event schedules. Here we exploreWindows Calendar’s advanced features.
By default, Windows Calendar creates a single calendar that has the same name as your user account. Additional calendars can be created as required, making it easy to keep track of dates and appointments without cluttering a single calendar. Click the File menu and select New Calendar before entering a name and pressing Enter. There is no limit to the number of calendars that can be created, but when several exist, they can become difficult to manage. To simplify things, calendars can be organised into groups. Click the File menu and select New Group. Groups and calendars can also be created by right-clicking within the Calendars pane and selecting the relevant option. You can organise them by dragging and dropping calendars into any group that has been created.
Windows Calendar allows for the creation of both appointments and tasks. Appointments can be regarded as traditional diary entries for events that take place on a particular day, at a specific time. Tasks are more long-term events and projects that may have a more open-ended start and finish date. Create a new task by either clicking the New Task button at the top of the screen, or by right-clicking in the Task pane and selecting New Task before entering details to the right. Use the Calendar menu to select which calendar the task should be added to, and set the priority, along with start and send dates. Once a task has been accomplished, tick the Completed box in the right-hand pane or the box next to an item in the Task pane.
Appointments can be created in a similar way. Either click the New Appointment toolbar button or right-click within the calendar pane and select New Appointment. After filling in the event details in the right-hand panel, either choose between assigning a particular time to the appointment or setting it up as an all-day event. Appointments that occur on a regular basis can be configured by making a selection from the Recurrence menu, along with choosing when a reminder should be displayed. To invite other people to an appointment, click the Attendees button, select the contact to invite, or create new ones, then click OK, followed by Invite. An email will then be sent out to the selected contacts.
To send an entire calendar to someone, either click the Share menu and select ‘Send via E-mail’, or right-click the relevant calendar in the Calendars pane and select the option with the same label. Enter the email address(es) that the calendar should be sent to, and send out the email. The recipient need simply open the file and the calendar will be imported into their copy of Windows Calendar. It is also possible to send details of an individual appointment to a contact by right-clicking its entry in the central pane and selecting ‘Send via E-mail’.
To make it easier to collaborate with others, Windows Calendars can be published online, or to a network location. To publish a calendar on the internet you’ll need Webdav, so check with your ISP for information about this. Calendars can also be published to network locations, such as the Public folder on a computer, which can be accessed by others on the network. From the Share menu, select Publish, then use the Browse button to navigate to a suitable network folder. Indicate whether any changes should be published automatically, then use the tick boxes to select what should be published. Click Publish and the option to send an email to others with a link to the calendar will be provided.
Windows Calendar can be used to subscribe to online calendars that have been created by others. Click the Subscribe toolbar button or click the Share menu, followed by Subscribe. If you know the address of an online calendar, enter it into the box and click Next. Alternatively, browse through a selection of online calendars by clicking the ‘Windows Calendar website’ link. At the bottom of the page are links to sites such as iCalShare and CalendarData.com, where a huge number of calendars can be found. Look through the various categories and locate a calendar you are interested in. Click the link to subscribe, then click Next in Windows Calendar. Choose how often the calendar should be updated, then click Finish.