Weekend project: Create a family calendar

Weekend project: Create a family calendar

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Who’s picking the kids up? When’s that dinner party? When were you planning to tell me that you’re going on a month-long business trip to Asia?

Ah, the family calendar. Bring harmony to your household in 2012 by setting up a family calendar. Microsoft's Juliette Guilbert shows you how.

Except in our case, it was calendars, plural—and therein lay the problem. Our work and personal schedules were scattered across six devices and the cloud. And what with dual careers, commutes in opposite directions, and two overscheduled schoolchildren (flute! piano! choir! chess club!) we desperately needed a better way to track and communicate who was doing what, when. (I was having visions of my 9 year-old waiting forlornly under the light of a street lamp, stranded after a pickup miscue.)

To make 2012 operate more like a well-oiled machine than 2011 (or any preceding year), I decided to take control of our scheduling system. What we needed was One Calendar to Rule Them All—something that could sync lessons, appointments, work meetings, and travel plans across our phones, home computers and work computers.

Here’s what I did:

1. Created a family calendar in Hotmail and shared it with my husband using the Live ID he uses on his phone. Learn how. I made him a co-owner of the calendar, so he can update the family schedule, too. I also gave him the ability to see the To-do list (a girl can dream, right?).

Step 1: Share your Hotmail calendar.

2. Installed Outlook Hotmail Connector on both of our work PCs, and then added our Windows Live accounts to our respective Outlooks. That made our work and family calendars show up side-by-side, right in Outlook.

3. Congratulated myself for knocking off one of my New Year’s resolutions during the first week of January. If only they were all that easy.

(Bonus tip: If you don’t want mail from family and friends flooding your work inbox, set up a new Hotmail account, share the family calendar with it, and add that one to Outlook instead of your primary Hotmail account. And if by some hideous mischance the person you want to share the calendar with doesn’t have a Windows Phone, just point them here—and then give them a good talking-to about how great your phone is.)

Now—whether I’m sitting at my desk or on the bus—when a meeting request comes in I can immediately see if it conflicts with someone’s dentist appointment. And if either one of us adds something to the family schedule in Outlook, it syncs up to Hotmail in the cloud and back down to our Windows Phones automatically. No fuss, no muss, no checking multiple calendars.

And no little girls waiting alone under streetlights.

Learn more about setting up, synching, and using calendars on Windows Phone

11 Comments
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  • behiri
    1 Posts

    Great suggestion, but I am having trouble Syncing the same calednar to 2 PC's now....So before I try this, maybe someone here can answer my question: I use Outlook  Connector to sync my Hotmail to 2 PC's. One at home with Outlook 2010, 64-bit and one at work Outlook 2007, 32-bit.

    If I create an invite in one PC, it get synched to Hotmail and the other PC, but once I try to change the calendar entry, the time does not update correctly across the 2 Outlloks?

  • Thanks for the informative post.  Now if only I could only search the calendar to answer questions like "When is that doctor's appointment for my daughter?" or "When is my brother getting married?" or "When is my next vacation scheduled?" Oh well ... I can dream.

  • caresrg
    5 Posts

    Is there any way to see shared Exchange calendars on Windows Phone?

  • Awesome!  And I love you for your "One Calendar to Rule Them All" comment.  :D

  • MSC
    2 Posts

    I set this up on all phones for our 5-people-family some weeks ago and it works really great.

    We did the same for our club (Hotmail Calendar) and I convinced the Google users in our club to use the Hotmail Calendar in addition because the full Hotmail Calendar functionality is available on almost all mobile plattforms while the Google Calendar functionality is not.

  • CAVX
    14 Posts

    @StephenPT You can blame that on Google, actually, but it's possible. Here's a link for how to do it:

    wonderreader.tumblr.com/.../multiple-google-calendars-windows-phone

  • Great... but I already do this with google calendar and I'm not going to convince the rest of the family to sign up for Live IDs, transfer all of their calendar items and work with a different interface than they're comfortable with... I realize it's a competitor's product, but why can't I see all the other calendars I look at on google calendar within my WP7's calendar?

  • I set this up on our phones about a month ago when my lovely bride got a WP7.   It has been a smashing success.

  • I don't know if the rumors are true, but MS please do not let other platforms have availability to Xbox titles. Please do not do this. This is a major selling point for WP! Please, please, please do not do this. It really would be a bad decision. WP needs features that are exclusive to it only. Please, I say please do not do this! After all of WP's selling points are not relevant, where would that leave the platform, especially when it's so hard to bring in new subscribers. Did I ask for you guys to please don't give other platforms access to Live titles? Well, if I didn't then here it is......Please, Please, Please don't give away anymore of our eggs....Please??

  • danielgr
    73 Posts

    I had been doing this with my wife even before we both had WP7, now it just got better and I'm glad you share this somewhat "hidden" capability with others.

    Now it's time to point out one of the most glaring missing things in WP7 calendar, which is the "week view". Why do I say that? Well, I guess that any kind of calendar software (from online Windows Live Calendar to Microsoft Outlook and Windows Live Mail) has a week-view for a reason...

    Day, Week, Month... it's just so simple... how did you missed on this one is beyond me, specially taking in account that the "month-view" on a phone screen doesn't let you see much more than the "day-numbers".

  • Thanks for making another post. After all that frustration about the update process we realized that this has been the case all along. Funny right? Glad I stayed neutral... Anyways.