Microsoft® Sharepoint® calendar is a powerful feature that allows you to manage the events, appointments, reminders etc. This blog explains everything about SharePoint calendar, eliminates the confusion with Outlook calendar and provides a clear guide how to leverage all the functionality provided by the SharePoint calendar.

A lot of confusion prevails around SharePoint calendar due to its similarity and differences with Outlook Calendar. We have all adapted to Outlook calendar on our desktops, however there are unique differences between the two calendars.

Sync SharePoint calendar to Outlook

SharePoint calendar is essentially a custom list in SharePoint with the necessary metadata related to events. This custom list resides in a SharePoint site. You can create multiple lists in a SharePoint site, each representing a different calendar. For example, you can have an HR calendar, Sales & Marketing calendar, Training calendar etc. SharePoint calendar gives the option to sync with Outlook as well. Please be aware when you sync a SharePoint calendar to Outlook, this creates a new calendar in Outlook and does not have any relation to the native Outlook calendar. The advantage of syncing SharePoint calendar to Outlook is the following:

  • User has access to all the events in their native Outlook calendar and SharePoint calendar in Outlook. They do not have to go to SharePoint to access events in SharePoint calendar.
  • User can maintain SharePoint calendar in Outlook. Any updates to SharePoint calendar in Outlook is synced back to SharePoint and vice versa automatically.
  • User can drag and drop events from their native Outlook calendar to SharePoint calendar and vice versa to manage their calendar better if required.

SharePoint calendar view

As stated earlier, SharePoint calendar is a custom list with events and the related metadata. However there is an additional Calendar view associated with the SharePoint calendar custom list. This Calendar view is the main distinction between a normal custom list and SharePoint calendar custom list. This Calendar view renders the events in a monthly format with all the events listed on the all the days in the month based on the event date. Please note that SharePoint calendar can be viewed in a native custom list view as well.

Overlays – a Powerful feature of SharePoint calendar view

SharePoint calendar view has a powerful feature “Overlays”. Since multiple SharePoint calendars may exist in a SharePoint site, users want to see the composite calendar view of all the events from all the SharePoint calendars. This can be achieved with the Overlays feature. Users can go to SharePoint calendar settings and configure overlays by specifying additional SharePoint calendars (essentially linking to the underlying custom list) and the SharePoint calendar view will show the events from multiple SharePoint calendars with different color backgrounds. The color background can be configured at the time of adding Overlays.

Another important feature of Overlays is that you can overlay an Exchange calendar on the top of your SharePoint calendar view. SharePoint gives you the option to configure a SharePoint calendar or an Exchange calendar while configuring the SharePoint Calendar overlays.

A practical use of Exchange calendar overlays on SharePoint calendar

There are cases where you may want to show enterprise events scheduled in Outlook automatically in SharePoint calendar. This way, everyone has access in their SharePoint site and do not have to depend on Outlook. We recommend that you set up a dedicated email for enterprise events, include the dedicated email while scheduling enterprise events in Outlook and overlay this dedicated email to SharePoint calendar view. This becomes a powerful and easy way of integrating Exchange calendar to SharePoint calendar.

Limitations of SharePoint calendar view

SharePoint calendar view is a powerful feature, however it has its limitations as well:

  • SharePoint calendar view takes lot of space on the page and does not have any option to configure the size.
  • SharePoint overlays have very limited background color options available.
  • SharePoint overlays only allow access to the Exchange calendar for the user that is logged in.

There are third party tools available to overcome the limitations of SharePoint calendar overlays mentioned above.

To learn how RSM can assist you with all of your SharePoint needs, contact RSM’s technology consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us.

By: Arun Aggarwal