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Google Workspace: a Practical Guide


On this page, we take a look at the workings of Google Calendar and explore how it integrates with other Google Workspace apps.

Google Calendar is, as the name suggests, Google's calendar tool. You can use it to create events, accept and manage invitations to events, keep track of tasks, create appointment slots, and more.

Calendar tends to be used in conjunction with Gmail, Drive, and Groups, as using these apps together allows you to create events, receive email invitations, invite groups to events, and attach Drive files to events.

Creating events in Calendar

To create an event in Calendar, you can either click on the Create button in the top left corner or by going onto the calendar itself and clicking and dragging where you want the event to occur. Both of these options will open the initial Calendar event creation dialogue box, or you can choose More options to open the full page view with all of the options.

Setting up your Calendar event

Once you've opened either the box for creating an event or the full page (from 'More options'), you can add all the details of your event. We'll go through some of the main options in approximately the order they should appear on the screen.

Start by giving you event a title that will make sense to the attendees. Calendar cuts off event titles depending on screen width, so put some key information at the start of the title.

Choose what type of event you're creating (the default is Event, which is a regular event). We'll explore other types of events below.

Set a date and time for your event. You can also choose if the event repeats and/or is an all-day event.

Add guests if you want to invite anyone else. You can do this by typing or pasting their email address, or for people at the University (when using your UoY account) you can start typing their name and it should suggest them (if you do this, double check it is the right person). You can also invite Google Groups by entering the email address of the group here.


You can create calendar events without inviting anybody to them, to mark out time in your calendar so other people can see that you're busy.

If you want to add video conferencing, you can do this now, or edit the event later if you decide you need it. You can also add a physical location or add a room that is bookable via a Google Resource Calendar.

If you want to add any description to the event for attendees to read, or any attachments (which tend to be Drive files linked to, rather than an actual attachment uploaded to the event, despite the name), clicking on the option will expand with some limited formatting options.

Check you're creating the event in the right calendar (by default, this will be the calendar connected to the account, so will probably display your name) and if you need to set the event to private so anyone who can view events on your calendar cannot see this one, you can do this here too.

Different types of Calendar event

There are actually five different options for types of events, even though they are all created in the same way and one is just called 'Event'. To choose an event type, use the buttons under the event name.


Once you've created an event as a particular event type, you cannot change the type. Instead, you must delete the event and create a new one to change the event type.


Event is the default type of event you can create in Google Calendar. It has options for creating events, adding guests, rooms, and video conferencing, creating descriptions, and setting which calendar the event is created in. This is the type of event you'll mostly want to create if you're inviting other people.

Focus time

Focus time is a type of event that helps you to reduce distractions, as it appears in your calendar as focus time with a headphones icon and has an option to automatically decline meetings that others invite you to at the same time. It is useful for blocking out time for specific tasks that you need to do and ensuring others know not to book meetings with you at that time. Google have guidance on using focus time.

Out of office

Out of office is an event type that marks you as away and can be set up to automatically decline meetings (either 'New and existing meetings' or 'Only new meeting invitations', depending on what you want). You can set a message to appear when the events are declined. This is a useful event type for ensuring you don't forget to decline any invitations for events when you're on leave or away for another reason.


Task is an event that is connected to Google Tasks. These events are only visible to you and appear in the separate Tasks calendar available under My calendars. You can set which list the task will appear on when creating the event, and manage lists by opening the Tasks sidebar on the right hand side of Calendar (with the tick icon). If you create tasks and don't see them in Calendar, check you have the Tasks calendar ticked.

Appointment schedule

Appointment schedule is a slightly different event type which allows you to create bookable slots that others can book to meet with you. It replaces a previous feature called 'Appointment slots', so you may see this referred to in help guidance. Appointment schedule gives you more control when creating slots and allows users to sign up for a slot without needing a Google account. You can set up your availability and how long you want the slots to be (the minimum length is 15 minutes). See our guidance on new appointment scheduling in Google Calendar (requires UoY Google account) for more on how to use the features of appointment schedule.

Viewing and sharing calendars in Google Calendar

As well as scheduling meetings, either for others to attend as well or those just for you like reminders and time blocked out for tasks, Google Calendar allows you to view others' calendars and share calendars with other people. This makes it easier to work collaboratively with others, as well as add events and manage to other people's calendars or shared calendars.

Viewing other people's calendars

There are multiple ways you can view someone else's calendar in Google Calendar, but they all are based around the concept of sharing permissions: you can only view what the person has allowed you to. This means that whilst you can easily see colleagues' calendars to arrange meetings or check a schedule for something, you don't need to worry that other people can see your calendar events without permission, as you long as you set up your calendar sharing permissions correctly (we'll look at this in the next section).

Meet with...

If you want to temporarily view someone else's calendar, maybe to see when they're available when scheduling a meeting, you can use the Meet with... option on the left hand sidebar (under the month calendar and above the Time Insights and My calendars). The Meet with box on Google Calendar allows you to enter someone's name or email address to check their calendar Start typing the person's name or email address and Google may suggest them (if not, just enter their full email address). Once you select the right person, you'll see their calendar overlaid onto your calendar view if you have permission to view it. If you don't, you'll get a message under the box saying "Calendar cannot be shown". Once you're done looking at the calendar, you can click on the cross icon next to the person's name to remove their calendar from your view.

Adding Other calendars

If you need to regularly check someone's calendar or want to have it visible on your calendar view all the time, instead of using the Meet with... option you can add the calendar to your calendar list, which appears underneath the option as two sections My calendars and Other calendars. Next to Other calendars there is a plus sign and clicking on it brings a range of options for adding new calendars to your calendar view.

Subscribe to calendar is the option that allows you to enter someone's name or email address to add their calendar to your list. Once you've added them, their calendar will appear under Other calendars and you can use the checkbox next to the calendar name to toggle whether it is visible on your calendar view. Bear in mind that you'll only see events if the owner of the calendar has shared it and you may see either the full event details or just see events as Busy, depending on sharing settings. If you hover over the calendar name, you can click the cross icon to remove the calendar from your list entirely or use the three dots icon to access settings and change the colour in which the calendar appears on your calendar view (note: this does not impact the colour that the calendar's owner sees, it is only for your view).

From the plus icon next to Other calendars you can also use other options, such as Browse resources, which allows you to browse all of the resource calendars at the University of York (if logged in to your University Google account) and add them to your calendar view if you have permissions to see them. Resource calendars are a way in Google of booking resources such as rooms or equipment. If you want to know more about how you can use these at York, contact IT Support. You may not have permission to see a particular resource calendar if you're not in a team that uses that resource.

Sharing your calendar

Every calendar in Google Calendar has associated sharing permissions, which control who can see the calendar when viewing it through any of the available methods. If someone does not have permission to view the calendar, they will not be able to see it at all. It is important to set the right level of sharing permissions for your own calendar (the one with your name) so that colleagues can see what you need them to be able to see, but you're not sharing details you don't want to with others. You also set sharing permissions for any other calendars you have access to, in the same way.

The sharing permissions available for calendars are:

  • See only free/busy (hide details) - users can see blocks of time where you have events in the calendar and gaps where the calendar is free, but events just say "busy" rather than having any information about the event.
  • See all event details - users can see all events in the calendar, except any created as private events, which will appear as "busy" only.
  • Make changes to events - users can not only see the events in the calendar, but also add and edit events. This is useful for managing someone else's calendar, e.g. adding meetings for them rather than inviting them to meetings you've created in your calendar.
  • Make changes and manage sharing - users can basically control the whole calendar, as they can see, create, and edit events, and also change sharing permissions on the calendar.

To check and change the sharing permissions for a calendar:

  1. Find the calendar on the list of calendars on the left hand sidebar of Google Calendar and hover over it until you see a three dots icon.
  2. Click on this icon and choose Settings and sharing (note: if you do not see "Settings and sharing" but only "Settings" you do not have permission to change the sharing on this particular calendar). This opens up the settings for the calendar (you can also access these settings by opening the general Google Calendar settings from the gear icon at the top of the Google Calendar interface and selecting the calendar in question under Settings for my calendars).
  3. Scroll down to the Access permissions for events section. Check if you have any of the options ticked: "Make available to public" will mean anyone with your email address or the link can view your calendar with the level of permission set and "Make available for University of York" means anyone logged into a email address can view your calendar with the permissions set. You can only use See free/busy and See all event details for these options, so the public or whole University cannot have access to edit your calendar events.
  4. Next, go to the next section, Share with specific people to see where your calendar is shared with specific users with Google email addresses or with Google Groups. If you don't share your calendar with the whole University, you may want to share it with a Google Group for your team or department, as well as any key individuals who need to see your calendar.
  5. These settings save automatically, so you can use the arrow in the top left hand corner to return to the main Google Calendar screen.

Once you've set sharing permissions, you can always go back and remove them if needed (for example, if a colleague changes jobs and no longer needs access to your calendar.


If you need to manage someone else's calendar, you will need to get them to share their calendar with you with either Make changes to events or Make changes and manage sharing permission (the latter can be useful if others may need to cover managing the calendar).

Creating new calendars

By default, each Google account comes with its own calendar, which will be displayed with the name associated with that Google account (for your University account, this should be your name), and sometimes is referred to as a 'primary' or 'main' calendar. As well as these calendars connected to a Google account, you can also create new 'standalone' calendars that can be used for other purposes such as shared calendars to keep track of events or personal calendars that you use but aren't visible with the same sharing permissions as your main calendar.

Before making a new calendar, it is worth checking that a calendar is the right option.

  • Is the purpose for the new calendar something that should be on your main calendar, or someone else's?
  • Is this calendar going to be for booking for a room or equipment so could be a resource calendar instead?

If you're not sure what would work best, you can get in touch with IT Support to discuss the best option(s).

To create a new calendar, go to the Other calendars section on the sidebar, then choose Create new calendar. You'll need to give the calendar a name, an optional description, and double check the time zone is correct, then choose Create calendar for the calendar to be made. Once done, the next thing you do is check the sharing settings are what you want for this calendar.

Video conferencing

When creating events in Google Calendar using a University of York Google account, you can add video conferencing with either Meet or Zoom to your meeting from directly within the calendar interface. The Add video conferencing button allows you to select which tool you want to create the video call for the meeting with.

When you choose Add video conferencing there will be options for Meet and Zoom

If you choose Meet, your meeting will be created with a Meet link. If you choose Zoom, you will need to be signed in to Zoom in Google Calendar (there's details on how to do this on the IT Services' instructions for Zoom) and then the Zoom meeting will be automatically created.

Google Calendar settings

Similarly to other Google products, Google Calendar has a range of settings you can use to customise your experience, from what you see in your calendar interface to the notifications you get, and even more advanced features like your regular working times and locations. All of the Google Calendar settings can be accessed using the gear Settings icon in the top right hand corner of the Google Calendar interface (or you can press the S key as a shortcut to open settings in Google Calendar.

Let's take a look at some of the main kinds of settings and how to change them.

Changing your view of Google Calendar

When you open Google Calendar from and log in (or open Calendar using the 9 dots launcher in Google), you see the Google Calendar interface, which shows you a calendar view of a set number of days and a sidebar on the left for accessing different calendars. You can customise what you see in this interface.

Toggling the time views

In Google Calendar you view the calendar in particular blocks of time, such as day, week, or month. You can change which you see using the drop down menu at the top right of the interface and can also toggle between these using letter keyboard shortcuts: D for day, W for week, M for month, Y for year, and then A for Schedule view, which displays all events in a list and a colour key for which calendar they are in.

In the General settings in Calendar settings, the View options allow you to set custom views, for example certain numbers of days at once.

Other View options

Also under View options, you can customise whether your Google Calendar interface will show weekends or week numbers, and whether events you have declined will still appear or be removed from your view. You can also set which day the week starts on, to change where the weekends appear in the view if shown.

Under Language and region you can also check you have the right region selected and choose the time and date format you prefer.

Notification settings in Calendar

There are two different places to check your notification settings in Google Calendar: looking in General for the Notification settings that occur when you get notifications for events, and then under Settings for my calendars you can select specific calendars and adjust the Event notifications, All-day event notifications, and Other notifications, which cover when events are added or edited to the calendar in question, or when guests respond to events.

General notification settings

In the General settings there's a section for Notification settings. You can choose to turn notifications on or off, and whether these are desktop notifications or alerts. Desktop notifications will vary depending on your operating system and appear in your computer's notifications, whereas Alerts are in your web browser. You can also change the behaviour of snoozed notifications and choose whether you get notification sounds and whether you are notified about events only if you've responded Yes or Maybe to them.

Calendar specific notification settings

In the settings for individual calendars, accessed in Settings by going to the Setting for my calendars section on the left hand sidebar and clicking on the calendar you want to adjust the settings for, there are a range of notification settings you can adjust.

Event notifications allows you to set what notifications you get before events in your calendar, for example having a notification 10 minutes beforehand. These notifications will either appear as the kind of notification you selected in General notification settings, or as an email, depending on what you choose. You can set notifications for specific amounts of minutes, hours, days and weeks, but bear in mind you want these to be actually useful notifications so don't turn loads on that you then start ignoring!

All-day event notifications allows you to do a similar thing, but for any all-day events. As these are all-day events they can only be set to days or weeks beforehand, but you can choose set times for these notifications.

In Other notifications you can turn email notifications on or off for a range of things, including events being added, changed, or removed from the calendar in question, guests responding to events in that calendar, and getting a daily agenda of events for the calendar. These settings are for your own email account, so if you have access to somebody else's calendar, the emails will go to you and not to them.

Setting working hours and location

Under General settings, you can optionally set up your own working hours and location. These highlight to others who are trying to book meetings with you when you usually work and where you'll be. You need to check the Enable working hours option to do this.

You can set your working hours and working location for each day of the week that you work and these will appear on your calendar.

Once you've set this up, you can change your working location on individual days from the Google Calendar interface, for example if you usually work from home on a certain day but are coming in to the office, or you'll be working in a different place entirely.


Here's some suggested exercises to start familiarising yourself with Google Calendar:

  1. Create a calendar event. Try using some of the settings, for example attaching a file and adding video conferencing. You could try adding both an individual and a Google Group if you have willing colleagues (or a test Google Group).
  2. Add someone else's calendar. Try adding someone else's calendar to your view. You could even add it to Other Calendars and then change the colour it appears in.
  3. Tweak your settings. Explore the Google Calendar settings and tweak any that suit you.

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