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5 min read

8 Google Calendar features you should start using now

By Justin Pot · February 19, 2021
A hero image for Google Calendar app tips with the Google Calendar logo on a blue background

You probably don't spend much time in Google Calendar, or obsessing over new Google Calendar features.

That's a good thing: calendars are for planning your time, not spending it. But Google Calendar does get new features regularly, and there's a good chance you missed a few in the past couple of years. 

We've got you covered. Here are some Google Calendar features added relatively recently that you might have missed.

1. The Schedule view

new Google Calendar schedule view

This one is slightly hidden: a Schedule view that can show you and your colleagues' calendars side-by-side. It works best with Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) accounts in a company where everyone's calendars are shared. Add your coworkers' calendars from the left sidebar, then select the Day view from the menu in the top left of Google Calendar.

Now, click the checkmark beside a coworker's calendar, and you can see their schedule side-by-side with your own for that day. Need to see a different day? Use the mini-calendar in the left sidebar to select a different day or the arrows at the top to jump through events day-by-day.

You can't move events between the calendars—after all, the other calendars are owned by other people—but it is a handy way to see when other people on your team are free or busy.

2. Schedule meeting rooms

See if a room is available and book it for your event (GIF via Google)

Calendars are for time, but Google Calendar can also help you organize space. Or spaces, at least. Right beside the Guests tab where you add event attendees, there's an easy to miss Rooms tab, where you can search through your company's available meeting rooms, see what features they have, and add them to an event directly.

Just like adding event attendees, you'll type the name of the room in to see matching rooms, then can filter by availability to only see the rooms that will be free during your meeting time. Once you've saved the appointment, you won't have to worry about a meeting room being double-booked (or needing to remind your team where you're meeting at the last minute). 

And there's no reason to limit this feature to physical space. At Zapier, we use it to reserve shared Zoom accounts.

Your Google Workspace team will first need to have added resources to your calendar in order to use this feature—here's how to add resources to your team's Google Calendar to get started.

3. Simplified appointment slots tool

Appointment slot in Google Calendar

Google added an Appointment slots button under the event name a few years back, alongside the Out of office and Tasks options. It's a way to mark time on your calendar as free for meetings—with a link you can share with others so they can book an appointment with you during one of those time slots.

To add appointment slots, open the Day, Week, 4 Days, or Schedule view, and click-and-drag over the time period when you want to schedule meetings. Click the Appointment slots button, then choose how long you want each meeting to run. Or, click the More options button to make those slots repeating and to add a description, guests, and meeting room to the time slot.

Book appointment with time slot in Google Calendar
Share your booking page so people can schedule appointments with you

Once it's added, click the event, then click the This calendar's appointment page link in the description to open a booking calendar in a new tab. Copy that link, and share it with others so they can book an appointment with you from one of your available appointment slots. You could even include the link in your email signature for an easy way to share it with everyone.

Now, when someone wants to meet with you, they can open your calendar, see when you're busy, and book an appointment at a time when you've marked yourself as free—not just when there's a blank space on the calendar. It's a great way to simplify meeting booking without back-and-forth emails.

4. Let your coworkers know when you'll be offline

Canceling all the meetings you'd otherwise have to attend is maybe the best part of planning a vacation. It's also the worst part, though, because you have to go through your calendar and individually reject all of those meetings.

But because of Google Calendar's out of office feature, you don't have to.

Google's out of office feature

This is another one of the options when you're creating a new event. Mark a block of time as out of office, and all appointments during that time will be declined in bulk. Google Calendar will also reject any future invitations you get during that time.

Automatically decline meetings

Go forth and prevent your coworkers from booking meetings you can't attend.

5. See more with a year view

Google Calendar Year View
Google Calendar

Google Calendar has a year view. You probably didn't notice they added it, but they did. You can use it. 

Click the view menu in the top right and select Year (or press Y on your keyboard) to see the entire year at a glance. Dates with events aren't highlighted at all, but you can click on a date to see everything scheduled in a popover. Or double-click a date to open it in Day view.

6. Find anything with advanced search

Google Calendar Search
Documents, appointments, contacts, and more from a combined search

Google Calendar used to have a pretty bad search feature, which is ironic coming from literally Google. That changed a few years ago—there's an advanced search now. 

Click the search icon and type in your query, and Google will find contacts and events that match, instantly. Click an event to open a quick preview; click a contact, and Google Calendar will show a list of every event with that contact.

Google Calendar advanced search

Need to find a specific event? Click the down arrow on the right of the search box to open Google Calendar's Advanced Search. You can choose which calendars to search through, invitees and locations to watch for, search terms to find (or not find), and a specific date range to search. That should be enough to find what you need.

7. Track time with a world clock

Google Calendar World Clock

Google Calendar's scheduling tools help you see when people are busy—but if you're working in different time zones, it might not be quite as obvious when they're sleeping. There's a new Google Calendar tool to help with that: a World Clock that you've likely already noticed in the screenshots.

Tucked away under the month calendar in the sidebar, the world clock shows the current time, the city or time zone, and a sun or moon to tell if someone should be sleeping at a glance. It doesn't show the date if someone's in the future—but it does show the official GMT+/- time zone if you hover your mouse over the clock.

Google Calendar World Clock settings

You'll first have to enable Google Calendar's world clock. Click the gear icon in the top right and select Settings, then scroll down to the World clock pane and check Show world clock. Then, click Add time zone, and select the correct time you want. In a few seconds, you should be able to get a quick overview of the current time for your entire team as a handy counterpart to the Schedule view.

8. Weather is missing (but you can bring it back) 

Google giveth and Google taketh away (RIP Google Reader). One Google Calendar feature that disappeared in the past few years is weather forecasts. Don't worry, though—you can add it back. I outlined how in my article about turning Google Calendar into a productivity hub, so read that for details. The gist, though, is that you need to use this third-party service.

It's not as pretty as the old weather feature, but it works.

Want more Google Calendar tips? Check out our list of the stress-reducing Google Calendar settings you didn't know you needed. And check out how to add your calendar to your computer's desktop wallpaper.

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