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Make all appointments Private by default

At work, our Calendars are shared by default so that we can always lookup where someone is and to book meetings more conveniently. I’m OK with this as it also benefits me.

However, I also add my private appointments to my calendar which syncs with my mobile phone and tablet so that I have only 1 calendar to manage and always see my full schedule. As I don’t want everyone in my office to see and read my private appointments, I mark them as Private which works great.

As I’m sometimes somewhat forgetful, is there also a way to have my appointments marked as Private by default to prevent embarrassing mistakes?

There is not a direct option in Outlook to have all new appointments automatically being marked as Private, but you can make a change to the default Appointments form to achieve the same result.

  1. If you are using Outlook 2007 or Outlook 2010, enable the Developer tab.
  2. Open a new appointment.
  3. Enable the Private option.

    Private tag enabled for a Calendar appointment in Outlook 2010.

  4. Publish the form:
    • Outlook 2003 and previous
      Tools-> Forms-> Publish Form As…
    • Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010
      Select the Developer tab-> Publish-> Publish Form As…
  5. Set the “Look In:” dropdown list to: Personal Forms Library
  6. Provide a Display Name and Form Name for your form and press Publish.
    For instance:
    • Display Name: Appointment
    • Form Name: AppointmentPrivate

    Publish Form As dialog (click on image to enlarge).
    Publish Form As dialog (click on image to enlarge).

  7. Right click on your Calendar folder and choose Properties.
  8. From the "When posting to this folder, use:" list choose: Forms…
  9. Select the Personal Forms Library
  10. Select your custom form by its Display Name (from step 6).

    When posting to this folder, use: Appointment - Click on the image to see the full Calendar Properties dialog.
    Click on the image to see the full Calendar Properties dialog.

Now when you open a new appointment, it will have the Private button enabled by default. You can of course still click on the “Private” button to disable it again.

Alternative methods

One alternative method would be to change the Calendar’s permission level to “Free/Busy time” or “Free/Busy time, subject, location”. This however is not supported by all combinations of Outlook and Exchange versions and might hide more than you want or still show too much.

Another option is to use separate calendars. As Outlook and various calendar applications on mobile phones can access or subscribe to multiple calendars and display them in a combined or “Overlay” mode, it would still appear as 1 calendar to you while making sure that your colleagues don’t have access to it.

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