How to set up calendars on iPhone and iPad

The Calendar App on your iPhone or iPad can be a very powerful ally in your day to day shuffle.  While it still lacks a bit in the arena of corporate use, it is capable of being a handy tool to help you with your schedule.  Here’s how to set up calendars on iPhone and iPad.

Setup
Unfortunately, Apple has not yet figured out a way for their mobile devices to magically read your mind in order to configure your calendar account, so you’ll need to start with a little setup.  To get things rolling, head over to the Settings App and find Mail, Contacts, and Calendar.  Depending on what service you use for email and/or calendaring your setup will be a bit different.  Each of the options will guide you through the required setup fields.  In most cases, the configuration should be a breeze, but just in case, we’ve provided details into setup for each service below.

iCloud
Perhaps one of the easiest providers (and rightfully so) to setup is Apple’s very own iCloud account.  The only thing you need to enter is your Apple ID and Password.  From there you will be prompted to turn a host of features On or Off including Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Bookmarks, Notes, Photo Stream, Documents & Data, Find My iPhone, and Storage & Backup.  Of course if you’re only interested in syncing your iCloud Calendar, simply set the rest to Off.

Exchange
Exchange is a service used and made available by multiple calendar and email providers.  Think about it more of a technology enabler than a specific mail provider.  When setting up an Exchange account, you will have a couple of steps to complete.  First you will need to enter your Name, Email, Password, and a Description.  Depending on the provider you are using, you may or may not need to enter a Domain.  Next you will be prompted for the Server.  We’ve listed a few  examples of how these may look, though because Exchange servers can be customized, they will differ for every company, school, or group you may set them up for.

Provider Server Domain
Gmail m.google.com [blank]
Live/Hotmail m.hotmail.com [blank]
Mailstreet mobile.collaborationhost.net [blank]

Yahoo!
Setting up Yahoo! Calendars on an iOS device is another relatively easy process.  To setup, first click Yahoo! from the Add Account screen under Mail, Contacts, and Calendars.  Next, simply enter your Name, Email, Password, and a Description for the account.  Next you will be given the option to turn On or Off Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders and/or Notes.  Yahoo! employs a Fetch setup in which it will search for new calendar events/changes (and mail if you have it turned On) on a time increment. The most common to use is 15 minutes, but others are available.  Note: the shorter the increment you choose, the more battery life the phone will use in fetching new mail.  Push does not work with Yahoo! so turning it On or Off won’t make a difference.

Gmail
While the Add Account screen from Mail, Contacts, and Calendars does have a spot for Gmail, I always recommend setting your Gmail account up through the Exchange options.  This allows the phone to immediately deliver new calendar events/changes (and mail if you have it turned On) as soon as it’s received on the server.  Even better, this type of technology uses a bit less battery than the Fetch method (explained above).  With that being said, for setting up your Gmail calendar, you should choose Exchange and enter your Name, Email, Password, and a Description.  Leave Domain blank.  After you hit Next, you will be prompted for a Server.  Enter m.google.com and you will be given the option to sync Mail, Contacts, and/or Calendar.  If you only want the Gmail Calendar, make that the only On toggle of the bunch.

Now keep in mind, calendars and mail services go hand in hand – so setting up your Calendar may involve an email setup as well.  Apple, and these services realize many people do use separate emailing and calendaring services, so you will always be given an option to turn off all services except, in this case, calendar.  Lastly on the setup front, you have a few options from the Settings app for Calendars.  These options are as follows:

Using the Calendar App
Let’s start with the icon, because in iOS, it is literally the only app that has a live updating face.  This means each time you look at your iPhone, the Calendar app will have the day of the week and date presented.  Now that you’ve oogled over that cool functionality, let’s dive into the actual app.

Using Multiple Calendars
Just because you may have one iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, does not mean you can only have one calendar setup on it.  In fact, you can have many.  Using myself as an example, I have both my work and personal calendar linked to my iOS Devices (though I mainly use it for the work part).  Calendars can also be toggled on and off individually from within the calendar app.

Assuming you’ve used the steps above to setup more than one calendar account, pressing on the Calendars button from within the calendar app will bring up your configured calendars.  Pressing on the calendars will reveal or hide a check, indicating that the calendar will be or won’t be visible.  Each calendar is also color coded, giving them a clear distinction from one another.

Viewing Your Calendar
Are you a day by day or a month by month kind of person?  Luckily, with iOS calendaring, you don’t have to worry regardless because both of these views are possible.  In a very explicit manner, Apple has made the List, Day, and Month buttons center stage along the bottom of the Calendar App.  The list view will provide an ongoing, scrolling list of event/meetings you have coming up.  This view is great for not only viewing events, but also searching them.  In fact, the list view is the only view where you can search for calendar events. The Day view will show you one day at a time, with the time of day along left.

Even though this view seems to be the least helpful of the bunch, I find myself using it most often due to it breaking the meetings up by the full days hours.  Finally, the month view will show a full month’s calendar.  Unfortunately, there is no week view.

Handling Invitations
Similar to alerts you receive from other apps, the Calendar app, once configured, will alert you with badges when a meeting request comes through.  To access them, launch the Calendar App and find a button with an arrow and shallow bucket along the bottom right.

From within, individual meetings are listed.  If the meeting was previously accepted or rejected, the status will show alongside of it.  Otherwise, pressing on the meeting will bring up a screen which has the following informative fields, hopefully already filled out.

  1. Title, Location, Date, and Time along top.
  2. Invitation From (push to see full list)
  3. Invitees (push to see full list)
  4. Alert Info (push to see full list)
  5. Availability (push to see full list)
  6. Accept, Maybe, Decline Options

 

Once you’ve had a chance to review the meeting, selecting your answer is as easy as pressing one of the three options listed in number 6 above.  One thing to note is that the availability option will not show you your own availability, (ie. If you already have a meeting at that time), but rather it will allow you to select how your status will appear during that meeting time.

Creating Meetings
The familiar iOS + button exists within the Calendar app on the top right side.  When creating an event, the following fields must be filled out:

  1. Title, Location, Date, and Time
  2. Repeat Options
  3. Invitees
  4. Alert
  5. Calendar
  6. Availability
  7. Meeting Description/Notes

While most of these are self explanatory, there are a couple I want to call out.  The repeat option will allow you to select Every Day, Every Week, Every 2 Weeks, Every Month, or Every Year.  This is pretty handy functionality that I’ve found works well for recurring meetings.  The Invitee list will pull from your contacts as well as any online contact repositories (such as company databases) you may have setup through your Mail, Contacts, and Calendar settings page.  This means you can invite people from a database of contacts you may not necessarily have in your iPhone’s contact list.

We hope this guide to using Calendars on iOS was helpful.  Questions?  Feel free to post them in our discussion forum or in the comments below!

  • Tina

    I don’t use my iPhone for business and so the meetings and all that are irrelevant. I have just basic simple questions about using the calendar and couldn’t find them at all. I suspect if I wanted to arrange a lunar landing that was covered, but not just the simple basics. Everyone assumes that iPhones are intuitive to everyone but I can’t figure out the simplest things and of course those aren’t covered. Still hating my iPhone.

    • ian

      Tina
      Have you tried going to https://www.google.com/calendar/iphoneselect and signing in with the account whose calendars you want to sync and made sure all the calendars available to you there are checked?
      If any are unchecked that you want, check them and click ‘save’ in the bottom right-hand corner of that webpage. I’ve had to do this for my job (we are a google apps reseller) and it typically fixes the issue of ‘I cannot find my calendars on my iPhone/iPad but I know they are in google’

  • Mark

    I’ve set my default calendar on my iPad to be my yahoo calendar as I can’t work out how to show events created in the apple cloud calendar in yahoo calendar. Slight drawback is that I then can’t work out how to invite other people to events – invites only seem possible for events set up in the cloud calendar. Anyone found a fix? Or are there other calendar apps I should be using that would allow this?

  • Nadia

    You can get a week view by turning your phone sideway :-)

  • Rob

    How do I get notified when someone accepts a meeting request from me?

  • Kendra

    This is rediculous. I had an iPhone 4. Just got the 4S. And I can’t even add something to my calendar or my reminder! Even Siri told me she couldn’t do it. There is no “+” sign on the right hand corner! None, zilch, nada. Why would this be? How is it that there is a calendar and a reminders page but no way to set a reminder!? I don’t get it. Never had this prob with my other phone. I used my calendar on a daily, sometimes hourly basis…so it’s not like I’m totally oblivious on how to use this stuff. But…sum ting wong here lol.

  • Kendra

    Ok so turns out that starting the iCloud account process had not been completed. The acct had never been verified. Thanks to your post, at the very beginning you mentioned iCloud so I figured with it being the #1 step, I better check to make sure all was well with that…it wasn’t. I don’t understand the whole iCloud thing…I don’t think I should have to have an iCloud acct to set a reminder on my device. I want it on MY device…not in some cloud where others can see it if they really wanted to. But it doesn’t seem as If there’s any other way to make this stuff work. Some day I have a feeling, I might regret all of my info being out there in this manner. Isn’t it just one more step towards “them” knowing everything we do…or at least are “reminded” to do!? Lol. I’m so boring its not that anyone would ever care but hey…you never know what the future holds.

  • Carol

    How do I change the colors for the different accounts?? Trying to change my color so it is different from my husbands. This is on my iPhone4s. Everytime I try it only let’s me change what is in the iCloud. That is not what I want!

  • Donald

    I have my hotmail calendar sync’d to outlook, iPhone, & iPad. I find that if I accept an event/appointment from my ipone, it will not mark the other 2 locations unaccepted. If I then accept it through outlook, then iPad and iPhone show unaccepted. Then if I accept on iPad, iPhone and outlook shows that it has been unaccepted. I have just turned to accepting all appointments on my iphone and ignoring the grey appoints on my iPad or unaccepted appoints in outlook.

    Hopefully the above makes since and there is a fix to make accepting on one device except it on all devices.

  • marty

    iphone 4S: want to schedule for clubs, etc on, “monthly on 3rd wednesday every month” I have an old item stored for 3rd wednesday of each month. but cannot re-program for other items planned. help. (yes, I can order for “2nd week” or “every wednesday” — but not the 3rd of each month–OR< schedule fore today and every third thereafter–(for wednesday every three weeks for cleaning service, etc.)