Syncing between Apple's iCal and a Google Calendar

Date: Fri Apr 25 2014 Mac Tutorials »»»» Mac »»»» Cloud Applications

I've been slowly adopting the whole cloud application idea. Y'know, store your data in the cloud and the experts running cloud based services will ensure your data is never lost and your every need will be taken care of by the cloud. Uh.. what about when it rains? Clouds are also the source of storms. It's not a great analogy. However it is a good point that experts running data centers can do a better job of ensuring your data is backed up, than an individual normally does. I've been using computers for 35 years and know very well how important it is to make backups and preserve archival copies of stuff. But I don't always follow best practices, I don't have a good system in place for backing up my stuff, etc. On the other hand if you want to trust the experts to keep your data backed up, what do you think about the original tapes made by NASA of the first landing of humans on the moon? Those tapes were lost sometime during the 1970's. By experts at archiving stuff, important stuff.

But I digress.. The issue at hand is the use of iCal, and Google Calendar. The incentive is that Google Mail has a feature of auto-detecting plausible calendar events and an easy way to insert them into your google calendar. Nice integration of features, right? Well, it's irritating to have multiple calendars so it's great then to have synchronization between multiple calendar services. If the events in my Google calendar can get into iCal on the Mac then the events can then be synchronized out to my cell phone. Further I want to enter events in my cell phone and have them synchronized into the Mac calendar and the Google calendar. One serious problem is I have a lot of google mail accounts and events can arrive in any of those mail accounts and then I want to synchronize those events into one calendar. But let's just first look at synchronizing one google calendar with iCal.

Fortunately it's pretty simple...

In Google Calendar, click on Help and you probably should then click on Google Calendar Help Center. Under Access Options is a link for Sync and then a section for synchronizing with Applie iCal or Mozilla Sunbird. CalDAV is an Internet protocol to access calendars across the network, and CalDAV is supported by iCal and Sunbird.

On the CalDAV page are two links for "information you should know" and "known issues". Something about the presentation made it seem there might be dangers from this. For example it could be dangerous to expose ones calendar to the public. Information privacy is very important, and it's important when using cloud services to be sure your personal information doesn't leak out.

Fortunately the information I should know, and the issues, really are simple things that one should know. For example the specific software versions supported (iCal 3.x on OS X 10.5.x). Another headscratcher is that while many applications support CalDAV, Google Calendar only works with iCal and Sunbird. Why? They don't say.

It's important to note that: Basic 2-way synchronization with Google Calendar should work as expected, but not all features are currently supported.

Once you know your system matches the system requirements (iCal 3.x on OS X 10.5.x) it's really simple. Go into iCal Preferences, click on the Accounts tab, and click the + button to add a new account. The Google Calendar help gives the items to enter into the iCal account dialog. This is your Google Account username and password and a special URL to enter into the server field.

Because I use Google Apps for my Domain, the username is the email address used to log into that account (me [at] example [dot] com). Further in the server URL it has you replace YOUREMAIL [at] DOMAIN [dot] COM with your account name, so use that same me [at] example [dot] com address.

It's really that simple.