Creating and customizing calendars
Arguably the second most common activity users head to SharePoint for is to create, view and edit team calendars. SharePoint is a reasonably flexible solution for sharing calendars that multiple people need to see and that pertain to a specific project. They're better suited to that than just sharing peoples' individual Exchange calendars, for instance, since the latter are mostly locked down and contain a lot of extraneous information that other team members don't need to see.
For tracking due dates, events and project meetings, SharePoint calendars are great.
To create a new calendar on a SharePoint site, head to the Site Actions menu and then click More Options. From the List section, click Calendar, and then type in a plain-English name for the new calendar and click the Create button.
Once your calendar is created, you can add events by clicking the Events tab in the Calendar Tools group on the ribbon, and then clicking the New Event button.
From there, you can enter the name of the event, the location, the duration and times, a description, a category (if you are using them), whether or not this event is a recurring or an all-day event and whether to create a meeting workspace for this event. (A "meeting workspace" is a mini-site within SharePoint.) Hit Save when you have completed the form.
After your calendar has been populated, you can experiment with the various views that are available specifically for calendars in SharePoint. On the calendar's SharePoint page, click the Calendar tab in the Calendar Tools ribbon group, and then in the Manage Views group, click the drop down list under Current View.
You will see a few options from which you can choose:
Calendar: This is the default and popular grid we are all accustomed to.
All Events: This is a tabular listing of all events listed on the calendar -- past, present and future.
Upcoming Events: This is also a tabular list, but only of forthcoming events.
These different views are helpful if you need to edit a batch of events in bulk and don't want to click through the monthly views of the calendar to get to each event.
Integrating SharePoint content with Outlook 2010
If you're like many SharePoint-using organizations, your IT department has also deployed Microsoft Exchange and Outlook, so you are using a mail client that integrates very well with SharePoint. In particular, Outlook 2010 has a variety of features that help you combine information you already store in Outlook with information within SharePoint. Here are some examples.
Putting SharePoint calendars into Outlook
If you have a team with deadlines, deliverable due dates and events you need to keep track of separately, a SharePoint calendar is a convenient way for all members to add, update and maintain a single record of dates. But sometimes it can be inconvenient to have to track multiple calendars, especially when your personal calendar lives within the Outlook client and the team calendars live on the SharePoint site.
You can bring down SharePoint 2010 calendar information into Outlook and either look at the contents of that calendar beside your own, or use Outlook's very nice overlay feature to see a single calendar at once with all of your pertinent information. Here is how:
- Open the SharePoint calendar in your Web browser. (Frankly, despite Microsoft saying SharePoint 2010 works well in other browsers, this feature works best in Internet Explorer and poorly in other software.)
- In the Calendar Tools Ribbon, click the Calendar tab and then click Connect to Outlook from within the Actions subgroup.
- You'll get an Internet Explorer security warning. Click Allow here to let the process work.
- Outlook will then open, if it's not already, and present a dialog box asking you if you are sure that you want to open that SharePoint calendar within Outlook. You can either click Yes here to accept the default configuration, or click the Advanced button to customize the name the calendar will take in Outlook as well as its description.
- Outlook will display the SharePoint calendar in the left pane under the Other Calendars heading. Click the check box to make sure it is displayed.
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