How to keep your family in sync with Hotmail Calendar
Easily transport data between home and office
Keeping my family organized and on time is tough. I’ve tried different options for maintaining calendars, like whiteboards, paper calendars, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and more. Unfortunately, none of them worked. What we needed was a single calendar that each of us could view and update. When Hotmail Calendar came along, we had the solution.
We check–and change–our new family calendar on the Internet many times a day. As an added bonus, I can sync the Hotmail Calendar with the Microsoft Outlook calendar I use at work and keep events in my work life and home life from overlapping.
Hotmail Calendar gives me lots of options, which I provide details about in this article: I can publish our calendar online for anyone to see, or I can send calendar information in email messages so that the grandparents can keep up with what's happening.
Create a Hotmail calendar
Hotmail Calendar is part of Windows Live a set of Microsoft services and software products which includes Hotmail. To use any of the Windows Live services and products, you'll need a free Windows Live ID which allows you to create one account with a single sign-in for all services. If you're already using Hotmail, Messenger, or Xbox LIVE, you already have an account ID.
After you have created a free Windows Live ID for yourself, you can get to your calendar: Sign in to it directly or you can access it from the left navigation pane of your Hotmail account, by selecting Calendar.
Hotmail Calendar is similar to desktop calendar applications: It features daily, weekly, monthly, and agenda view modes. Calendar events are stored online and can be viewed from any location. You can set up alerts as helpful electronic reminders for upcoming calendar events. Alerts are delivered via email, SMS text messaging, or Instant Messenger (IM). We usually set up our alerts to remind us 20 minutes before an event starts, which gives us enough notice to get to most events right on time, even if we’ve forgotten about them. This is a great feature that has saved family members from embarrassing "no shows" more than once in our busy lives.
Make a new calendar
Sign in to the Calendar website with your Windows Live ID.
On the toolbar, click the arrow next to New, and then click Calendar.
In the Name box, type a name for the new calendar.
Next to Color, select a color for the calendar.
In the Description box, type a short description of the calendar.
6.To share your calendar so that other people can view or edit it, click Edit Sharing. (I'll talk about sharing calendars in following paragraphs.)
To receive a daily email with details of all the events scheduled for that day, select the check box.
Click Save. Your new calendar is added to the list of calendars in the left navigation pane.
Set up alerts for your calendar events
Sign in to the Calendar website with your Windows Live ID.
In the upper-right corner of the window, click Options.
In Calendar options, under Set your reminder time, click Change how you get reminders.
On the Alerts page, specify where you want to get your alerts, and then click Save. You’ll need to set up Windows Live for mobile to get alerts on your mobile phone.
When I was setting up our calendar, I especially appreciated that I didn’t need to manually re-enter calendar information I’d already stored in another calendar. First, I exported my old calendar to a file (following the directions in that program), and then I imported the file into Hotmail Calendar. Voilà! I was ready to go.
Share your calendars
In Hotmail Calendar, you have three choices for how you share your calendar. You can choose an option when you create a calendar, or you can select it at another time. Next to the Share menu above the calendar, click the arrow, and then click the calendar name. Here are your choices:
Share your calendar with friends and family. This is the option I chose for our family calendar. I made sure that each computer user in the family got a Windows Live ID, and then I gave them full permission to view, edit, or delete calendar entries.
Send friends a view-only link to your calendar. When we last visited my parents across the country, I set up their computer so that they could see a view-only version of our calendar. They like knowing what we’re doing, even if they can't be here.
Make your calendar public. I used this option during our extended family reunion last summer, just so relatives who wanted to connect with us would know where we were.
After I made sure my family members all had access to the calendar, I found out how simple it is to fill up the calendar with our appointments (referred to as creating events in Hotmail Calendar).
Create a calendar event
On the Calendar toolbar, click the arrow next to New, and then click Event. Or, in the calendar window, click where you want to add the event, and then click Add.
In the Add an event window, type the information about the event, including what the event is, the date of the event, the start and end times, and where the event is taking place.
Next to Calendar, select the calendar that you want to add the event to.
You can click Add more details or click Save to add the event to the calendar.
When you create an event, you can send email notifications to people to tell them about the event or to invite them to attend.
Invite people to an event
To invite people to an event in your calendar, in the Add an Event box, click Add more details.
Click Invite People.
On the To line, select recipients from your Contact list or type in the email addresses.
Add any additional information you want them to have, and then click Send.
The people you invite receive an event invitation in their email Inbox, and if they accept, the meeting is added to their calendar in Hotmail Calendar. We just used this feature to invite the local set of grandparents to our son's piano recital. He was thrilled to spot them in the audience.
Synchronize Hotmail calendars in Outlook
For someone like me, whose work schedule is as hectic as my family schedule, tools that help me combine the two are invaluable. I use an Outlook calendar at work and the shared family calendar in Hotmail Calendar. Now, there’s something called the Outlook Connector that allows me to keep the two schedules in one place. To set this up yourself, download and install the free Outlook Hotmail Connector on the computer you use with Outlook. Installation only takes a minute, and when it's done, your Hotmail Calendar will automatically be added to Outlook. You’ll see it in the navigation pane on the left, under My Calendars.
Now, whether I’m online or offline, all of my calendars are available in Outlook. And any changes I make to my Hotmail Calendar in Outlook is automatically synchronized with the web version in my Hotmail account, so the whole family can see the changes immediately.
Note: You can view and edit your Hotmail Calendar in Outlook; however, your Outlook calendar will not be available on Hotmail.
As I mentioned in the beginning, there are lots more options available for keeping calendars. If you use Windows Vista, for example, you’ll be able to do just about everything we’ve mentioned here using Windows Calendar. And if you're using Outlook, you have many options for sharing your calendar. With all these helpful tools keeping your calendar up to date and sorted, you can actually relax and enjoy the many events filling your life!
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