Sync Your Google Calendar to iCal in One Step

September 5, 2009

GCal in iCal On each new episode of This Week in Google (details) I’ll highlight a tip for using cloud/Google apps smarter, faster, and better. I’ll document those tips here.

If you've upgraded your Mac to Snow Leopard (10.6), it's now dead simple to synchronize iCal with your Google Calendar. While in Leopard you had to either know detailed CalDAV settings or install a helper application, in 10.6's iCal you can just open up the Preferences pane. Under Accounts, click the + button to add an account. Enter your full gmail address ( and your Google Account password, and iCal will detect and configure the CalDAV settings for you. This is full two-way sync, so changes you make to events in iCal show up in GCal and vice versa.

Pro tip: Google Apps account users, iCal won't automatically detect you're using a Google Account. From the Account type drop-down, choose "Google" and then enter your full email address and password to get your GCal in iCal. This also works for Yahoo Calendar, Exchange 2007, and any other CalDAV server as well.

CORRECTION: Contrary to what I posted earlier and said on TWiG, multiple Google Calendars are indeed supported! In iCal's Preferences, go to Accounts, then Delegation to check off as many secondary calendars as you want to sync to iCal. My apologies for the mistake! Thanks, Stuart!

Update: Sadly this sync only works with your primary GCal or Outlook calendar, not any of your secondary calendars. Google's official word on this:

It's not possible to sync events on secondary calendars at this time. Google Calendar Sync will sync only events from your primary Google Calendar (first one in your list) and your default Microsoft Outlook calendar. If you've scheduled events on a secondary calendar in Google Calendar that you'd like to sync with your Microsoft Outlook Calendar, you can either move the event to your primary calendar or export your entire secondary calendar and import the events to your primary calendar."

Thanks for this! I was glad to find out that this results in a two-way sync.

dR [+3]
Sep 5 09 at 12:28 pm

ummm i think your wrong about not being able to sync secondary calendars. if you go the the delegates tab you will see all your secondary ones and turn them on

You actually can use secondary calendars. Just go to the account in the accounts tab of iCal preferences (iCal -> Preferences -> Accounts) and click on the Delegation tab. Then check off any additional calendars that you want!

Sep 5 09 at 2:59 pm

Yes, I was wrong about secondary calendars, they ARE supported. I’ve updated the post and will make a note in next week’s episode. Thanks everyone, and apologies!

Gina Trapani [+195]
Sep 5 09 at 3:02 pm

Just don’t expect to be able to create and edit events in iCal. My changes stick only about 1 out of 5 tries. I open the event in iCal, click Edit, make changes, Click Done and watch the event revert back to the server version.

Joe [+1]
Sep 5 09 at 3:50 pm

My bad. I had left a Google Calendar browser window open. Once I closed the browser window my changes started to stick. Seems like a bug to me.

Joe [+1]
Sep 5 09 at 3:58 pm

Password authentication keeps failing on my Google Apps account – anyone else have this problem?
Sep 6 09 at 2:13 am

If you have an existing setup with iCal and Google Calendar using CalDAV, is there any benefit to setting it up the new way?

Justin Cardinal [+5]
Sep 6 09 at 5:36 am

hi I am confused! I havent updated to Snow Leopard yet but this seems to be exactly what I had already done in iCal to sync my googleCal. Or did I do something more complicated and now I just dont remember? either way I ask the same question as Justin is there any benefit to setting up the new way??

Jill Howlin
Sep 6 09 at 12:26 pm

@JOE its because your refresh rate is slow, just make it every minute and it will update faster….

I take it that this method only allows you to link to a single GCal set? I have one calendar on Google Apps and my others on Gmail and it would be helpful to use this method to keep all updated.

Paul Jacobson [+3]
Sep 6 09 at 11:07 pm

I found that the best way to sync the iPhone 3G to multiple Google Calendars is to use the Exchange Method (#4 in this link I also synced my Google contacts to the iPhone this way and it has been very smooth. Any newly subscribed subcalendars automatically appear on the page for addition to the iPhone. CalDAV is more laborious.

What is NOT working, and Apple really needs to fix this, is the subscription to .ICS files method. When I add .ICS subscriptions to the iPhone, the device takes anywhere from 5-30 seconds to change pages. DON’T use this method right now!

dmccall [+6]
Sep 7 09 at 6:09 am

Perfect timing on this tip! My wife just asked me to fix her iCal/GCal connection in Snow Leopard. This worked perfectly. Thanks Gina!

Sep 7 09 at 12:21 pm

Gina, do you know if there is a way to delegate my work exchange email to Google Calendar so I can send that info to my Google Cal account?

Peter Kaizer [+1]
Sep 11 09 at 11:37 am

This wasn’t what I thought it would do. I set up my 5 addtl calendars in Google thinking that my calendar app on my iphone would have categories again, but nope, it still has that one list of calendars. I might as well go back to MM since the iphone cal app hasn’t changed. That’s the most important thing to me. Being able to look at my boss’s calendars in one view, my kid’s in another, mine in aonther, etc- and then being able to see all together.
Please let me know if I’m missing something here, but I might as well get my money out of MM.

Matthew Dash
Sep 13 09 at 4:33 pm

This seems to work only for calendars created in Google. I can’t sync existing iCal calendars. Or am I missing something?

Vince Medlock
Oct 16 09 at 5:27 am

Comments are closed. Thanks for reading!