5 Essential Add-Ons for Google Calendar
By Steve Wilkinson on Monday, April 7th, 2014
Here at radius180 we’ve switched over to Google Apps for all of our Email, Calendars and Office applications. It’s cost effective, elegant and works seamlessly across a myriad of devices. One of the best little-known features of Google Apps are the Labs add-ons. Tucked away in the Settings, Labs are experimental features which aren’t ready to be integrated into the full release of Google Apps. Chances are, if you’ve ever thought to yourself “I wish Gmail did X” there’s a good chance someone has built that feature and it’s available under Labs.
My day to day consists of coordinating with teams of developers across the continental U.S., so I pretty much live in Google Calendar. It’s a very powerful application with a lot of options under the hood. Still, there is always room for improvement and what follows are five add-ons that I’ve come to depend on:
Hide morning and night
As dedicated as I am to the work we do here at radius180, I don’t typically have meetings at 2am. Since I always have my calendar open in tab with the 4-Day view up it seems like a lot of screen real estate is wasted by unused hours of the day. This add-on lets you drag a range of hours that will be hidden by default. So if your work day is from 8am to 5pm, or 3pm to 1am, you can hide the remaining hours of the day from the default view giving you a much cleaner interface.
I always keep my calendar open in a tab. However, it’s usually not my focus as I’m working in a code editor or the Terminal. An unfortunate feature of calendar is that it will pull focus away from whatever you’re doing whenever you have an event coming up. While I appreciate that my calendar wants to let me know I have a status meeting in ten minutes, I don’t want it to interrupt what I’m doing at any given moment. Gentle Reminders prevents the calendar from doing this. Instead, you will hear a pleasant chime when you have an upcoming event—much more considerate!
Automatically Decline Events
This one speaks for itself. If there is an event on your calendar when you are marked as Busy (decline invitations), any invitations that conflict with that event will be auto-declined. It’s also flexible enough to be applied on an event-by-event basis which is very useful.
Another self-explanatory add-on, Event Attachments eliminates the need to create a calendar event and then send a separate email with the agenda document. Everything is sent in one go for maximum efficiency.
Year View provides a convenient button which displays a full-year-view so that you can see the date for the third Tuesday six months from now. Doesn’t seem like much but it’s a simple, handy feature that was missing from the base Google Calendar.
So I’m sure by now you’re wondering where to find the Labs add-ons for Google Calendar. Click on the Settings button (at the time of this blog post it’s located at the top right of the calendar with a gear icon) and select ‘Labs’ from the drop-down. You will see a list of available Labs add-ons with the option to enable or disable each of them. Turn on the ones you want and click the ‘Save Changes’ button at the bottom of the page. Don’t worry, these won’t mess up your events or break anything. If you don’t like them you can always come back in and easily disable them.