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Creating a shared group calendar without Exchange

For our sport club, I’m trying to create a calendar with our schedule to which everyone needs to have access. We don’t have Exchange but just a bunch of private POP3, IMAP and Hotmail accounts.

Some of us need to have full read/write access but for others read permissions will do.

Would it still be possible for us to create a shared group calendar?

There are several ways to go here, but creating a calendar via Windows Live Calendar might be the easiest approach without the need to invest in 3rd party tools.

Step 1: Creating the Calendar on Windows Live

  1. Go to http://calendar.live.com
  2. Sign in with your Live ID or create one if you don’t have one yet.
    You can use your own current email address to sign up.
  3. Create a new calendar via New-> Calendar
  4. Provide a name for the calendar and optionally select a different color, a charm and provide a description.
  5. Press Save to return to your Calendar view.

You can quickly create a free on-line Calendar on Windows Live Calendar.
You can quickly create a free on-line Calendar on Windows Live Calendar.

Step 2: Share the Calendar

  1. In your Calendar view, click the “Share” button at the top and select the calendar you created in Step 1.
  2. Select the option: Share this calendar
  3. Press the “Add people” button to add users from your contact list or type their email addresses.
  4. At the bottom of the dialog, set the permissions level.
  5. Press Add to return to the Sharing page.
  6. Press Save to send out the sharing invitations and to return to your Calendar overview.

You can repeat the above process to add people who need different permissions. For instance, assign co-owners, people with read/write access and people with read access only.

Set permissions on the shared calendar and send invitations by email. (click on image to enlarge)
Set permissions on the shared calendar and send invitations by email.
(click on image to enlarge)

View-only link alternative
To quickly provide read-only access to someone, you can use the option “Send people a view-only link to your calendar”. This will allow you to generate links which you can share with people which may access your shared calendar without providing credentials. Click on the HTML and ICS link to see the URL for your shared calendar. Copy and paste these links in a new message and send it to your contact(s).

While this is a less secure method, since the link may be posted publicly by someone, this might not be too dramatic depending on the contents of the shared calendar. You also have the option to reset the calendar links which would invalidate the previous view-only links immediately.

Step 3: Access it in Outlook (read only)

If you shared the calendar via a “view only link”, then they can use the HTML link to view the calendar on-line in a browser or use the ICS link to subscribe to it in Outlook.

  1. Open your Account Settings
    • Outlook 2007
      Tools-> Account Settings…
    • Outlook 2010
      File-> Account Settings-> Account Settings…
  2. Select the tab Internet Calendars
  3. Press the New… button.
  4. Paste the ICS link in the “New Internet Calendar Subscription” dialog.
  5. Press Add.
  6. After a few seconds, the “Subscription Options” dialog should appear. Here you can provide a display name for the calendar and additional options.
  7. Press OK and Close to return to the main Outlook window.

You should now see the Calendar in your Calendar Navigation (CTRL+2) or in your Folder List Navigation (CTRL+6) under “Internet Calendars”.

Subscribing to an Internet Calendar in Outlook via a webcal link.
Subscribing to an Internet Calendar in Outlook via a webcal link.

Step 4: Access it in Outlook (read/write)

When you’ve set permissions on the Calendar, people will receive a message with a link to accept the invitation. When they do, they can log on to the Windows Live Calendar website with their own Windows Live ID (which should match the addresses that you’ve supplied in step 2).

To access the Calendar in Outlook they must install the Outlook Hotmail Connector. After configuring it with their Live ID email address, the shared calendar should be added automatically to their Calendar Navigation (CTRL+2) or in your Folder List Navigation (CTRL+6) under “Internet Calendars” (they might need to press the Send/Receive button to force a resync of the folders).

They will now have the access permissions for the calendar as granted by you on the Hotmail Calendar website. In general, updates should show within half an hour for everyone.

The Outlook Hotmail Connector can be used to access shared Windows Live Calendars with read/write permissions. There is no need to also use the mail features if you do not want to.The Outlook Hotmail Connector can be used to access shared Windows Live Calendars with read/write permissions. There is no need to also use the mail features if you do not want to.
 

3rd party add-ins

CodeTwo Public Folders

For a more advanced solution with a higher level of security and more flexibility (often in case of a more permanent team), you could use a 3rd party add-in such as CodeTwo NetCalendars.

This free add-in will allow you to host the calendar yourself and share it with multiple people in a local network (LAN) or via the Internet (WAN).

To also share other folders such as mail, contacts, tasks and notes, CodeTwo Public Folders will offer a more complete solution.