How to: Alternative Options for Google Calendar Sync

Android users who sync their Google calendars with Outlook received a shocking email:

Important Announcement about Google Calendar Sync

Almost two years ago, we announced that we ended support for Google Calendar Sync. Starting on August 1, 2014, this app will no longer sync events between your Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook Calendar.

As a Google Apps for Business, Education, or Government customer, you can use Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook®.

Follow these instructions to uninstall Google Calendar Sync from your computer.

– The Calendar Team

This is frustrating, because as some folks point out, Microsoft should provide this integration for Outlook users. But the truth is, instead of helping its loyal Android customers, Microsoft wants more people using Windows phones and Office 365. This news makes many Android-Outlook users want to abandon their Android devices all together.

outlook-google-calendar-sync

Purely out of coincidence, I have a local friend who emailed me a similar question about syncing his calendar with Outlook:

You know that I am fairly stupid when it comes to this stuff!  LOL!  I use [a big name telephone company] as my primary email, and too many people have it to change it after so many years.  I guess I could keep that as my primary email address and just use Google Calendar exclusively.  I just hate to have to log in to use the calendar.  Lazy I guess.  I do, however, also have a Gmail address!  Any suggestions other than “using all of Google’s products”?

Stop the insanity: software solutions

There are a number of third party applications available for syncing Google Calendar with Outlook. However, a lot of questions remain about whether Google Calendar will still sync with third party programs.

If you want to test them, here’s a short list of some programs with good reviews:

I’m not sure how well these will work after the August 1 deadline, though gSyncit indicates they’ve rewritten their program to coordinate with Google’s API demands. If I was going to pick an option, I’d probably select gSyncit based on that statement.

I also suggest you keep up to date with any advances by following this Google products forum thread.

Submit yourself to “the Borg”

I think my friend’s easiest option is to commit himself to Google’s services, and here’s why.

First, no attorneys should be using free Google accounts for their business work. Thus, if you’re using a yourname@gmail.com to send and receive firm and client related information, stop right now. Sign up for a Google Apps account — ask me for a referral partner discount discount code — that offers more features (including no scanning), security, and encryption of email. Having a Google Apps account also enables you to access Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook.

You’re welcome.

Second, if my friend chooses to ignore my advice about free Google accounts (or you want to abandon Outlook totally), and he wants to keep his telephone company’s email address that everyone knows so well, no problem.

If you don’t need Microsoft Outlook (e.g. Outlook connects to your case management software), it’s okay to ditch the program. Yes, you will have a few withdrawals, but trust me, you will survive. Google’s email, calendaring, and contacts are as good, if not better, than Outlook.

This is how you can make the Google commitment and still keep your “old” email:

Step 1: sync you Outlook information with Google

Step 2: keeping your email

If you want to have your same email address, there are two ways to handle this: forwarding or changing MX records.

Email forwarding

I like forwarding my emails to my Gmail address since that allows me to have everything in one searchable location. You’ll need to check with your email provider for instructions on how to enable forwarding, but just make sure that you’re not saving a copy on the server.

Many people use IMAP or POP3 to handle third party email. An IMAP connection is the best, though I’ve noticed some syncing issues. Forwarding eliminates having to sync email with a third party account by sending it directly to your new address. I use forwarding to handle emails sent to jeff@thedroidlawyer.com.

Your can also use Gmail’s Accounts and Import setting to create an alias address in your Gmail account.

Forwarding allows you to continue to receive messages from those old friend who know your address, as well as send responses.

Changing your MX records

One of the problems with forwarding, and particularly an alias email, is that any emails sent from the account have “sent on behalf of [your name].” (Google does a good job of explaining how to fix this.)

For me, this isn’t professional looking — though honestly 90% of people won’t notice — and I want Google’s servers (especially with my Google Apps account) to handle all of my incoming and outgoing messages. Remember, all Google accounts have 100% encryption on Google’s servers; email scanning is off for Google Apps accounts.

If you own your own domain not hosted by Google and you have a Google Apps account, then tell your domain host you want Google to handle email. This is called changing the MX record.

On a scale of 1 to 10 difficulty, this is probably a 7 or 8. Bad things can happen — we lost/were unable to receive email for a general “Contact Us” account because of one small issue — so talk with your domain host if you’re not sure. They should easily walk you through the process (or even perform the transfer). You should also read Google’s how to guide on setting up MX records for your Google Apps account. This will give you generic and specific instructions for changing the MX command.

Once you set up Google as your primary email server, you can roll on with two separate email accounts (one for Google Apps and one for your self-hosted domain) all hosted and available in Gmail.

dual email

 

What’s the end result?

Discontinuing Outlook connectivity will certainly make a number of Android users upset, though I’m pretty confident that this is a business decision (the actual number of users affected is low), rather than a war with Microsoft. Microsoft needs to help its customer base by filling the void.

Ultimately though, I think if you follow my instructions and advice, you won’t get caught off guard on August 2.

35 Responses to How to: Alternative Options for Google Calendar Sync

  1. And then there are those of us who are forced to use Outlook at work. I had a friendly IT guy who let me install Google Calendar Sync on my machine and life was good.

    Guess who’s no longer there? Yep, the friendly IT guy. Given that the official motto of IT is “If it’s useful, it’s a security risk” I doubt I’ll be able to talk anyone into letting me install any more software, especially not software I have to pay for. I’m already ten updates behind on Evernote (he let me install that, too) and I doubt I’ll ever get to upgrade it again unless Evernote stops requiring Admin rights to install the updates.

    So, the bottom line is Google just lost a user. I have no reason to use the calendar any longer if I can’t sync it to my work calendar.

    • I think there will be a number of folks in your same boat. That’s why I think that MS needs to step in and offer support. In the least, IT guys need to relax some rules to allow workarounds like yours.

      • Relaxing rules is not what IT guys are about, typically. Especially when the head guy is a former military IT person.

      • I’m hoping it will still work after August 1. I was able to reinstall sync on a new computer after Google said you couldn’t do that any more. Of course, I already had the account set up, but I was still a little surprised that it worked.

    • Now that the Google Calendar Sync has stopped working I found a replacement Outlook4Gmail. Although it isn’t free it works great, actually better than Google’s own product did.

  2. The Trick is to doubleclick on the ics url and open it with outlook! << this is bidirectional!!

    "just importing as internet calendar" is read only.

    May I'll make an english version tonight

  3. CompanionLink is hands down the best desktop sync product for Google and Outlook. They offer a free phone number to call if you run into trouble!

  4. Hi. I spent most of yesterday trying to find help from Microsoft and most of today trying to convince google that I did actually own my domain and PLEASE would they let me get in as an administrator! Anyway, I got this reply from a ‘useful’ MS reply to one of my forum questions. It explains how to get Outlook calendar on an android phone using a ‘pseudo’ MS exchange account (ie bypassing the Google Calendar conduit):
    Thank you for posting your query in Microsoft Office Community.

    I understand your concern and will answer your query.

    You can synchronize Email, Contacts and Calendar data only on an Exchange Active Sync (Microsoft Account) or Microsoft Exchange server email account.

    Based on your description, I suggest you to configure a common Microsoft account (Hotmail, Live or Outlook.com) as and Exchange Active Sync account in Outlook, add calendar entries and access the same from the Android Smartphones.

    You may refer to the following articles for information on setting up the Microsoft email account in Outlook and also accessing it from Android phones.

    How to set up Outlook.com email account in Outlook 2013.
    http://blogs.office.com/2012/11/15/put-the-power-of-outlook-2013-behind-your-outlook-com-email/

    How do I get Microsoft account (Hotmail, Live or Outlook.com) on my Android phone?
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/outlook/to-go

    Hope this helps. Peronally, I’ve plumped for gSyncit as One Media Hub didn’t seem to be picking up all the appointments.

  5. Another option: Akruto.com, automatically and cloudless syncs Outlook with Android phone. Can try full software free for seven days. Actually, they’re giving away 2 free copies if you follow or circle them by 11:59pm 13 July.

    • I’ve had good experience with Akruto as well. It works well and automatically once you’ve installed, and since it syncs through wi-fi, you aren’t using the cloud in anyway.

      • I use Akruto to sync both my iPad and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with Outlook for PC. Beware that it’s not free nor does it sync with Google because it does not store info in the cloud. I appreciate the privacy.

  6. Excellent article. My Google cwlendar Sync stopped today; poof just like that. I searched and found gsyncit; it works smoothly and is free for now for one PC. The transfers are two way between Outlook and Google Calendar.

  7. I went with gSyncit becasue I needed the PC Calendar on multiple Android phones (small business, operatives need appoiintment info for directions, contacts etc & Google Calendar has great ‘map’ functionality). It was $20 well spent as it has just worked. Anywhere there’s a wi-fi hotspot it seems to manage to do an update on the phones even when there’s no official connection. The tad annoying thing is that it keeps wanting to install updates, but I can live with that. There is far more functionality than I’m using with options for contacts, tasks etc on Google but also can sync with a whole host of other programmes, most of which I’ve never heard of like Toledo, but I have heard of, and use, Dropbox – so that’s handy. And, on August 5th…. all is still working away happily. I recommend, especially if you don’t need to sync your mail.

  8. I just tried syncing, no error message. I verified the recent change to my contacts transferred over. I have not rebooted in several days, don’t know if that matters.

  9. gSyncit: works ok on the free version with one calendar. a little tricky to set up and bypass IT admin but Google wanted 2 level verification and screwed up my passwords… but I can live with that. I sync in one direction only. don’t want the phone to suddenly delete my work calendar and meetings…

  10. gsyncit was my choice and after getting it to know what was wanted and what wasn’t (changes had been made to both sides since last sync) it has worked fine. It has also replaced the other sync app I was using for contacts. Haven’t used it enough to recommend it yet but it looks fine after 12 hours

  11. My recommendation – Sync2, desktop app for all your devices. It allows to synchronize multiple Outlook Calendars, Contacts and Tasks with multiple Google Accounts, set up two-way or one-way synchronization, choose the sync direction and much more. http://sync2.com/

Let's discuss this (you can use Markdown in your comment)

Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.