Manually Configuring iCal for Google Calendar and CalDAV

Sometimes I like doing things manually. I can’t tell you why, except perhaps to say that I’d rather know exactly what’s going on and how things are happening instead of giving over control to a “black box” that does something for me and spits out the results. It’s silly, I know, but that’s just how I am.

Case in point: today Google announced official support for CalDAV with Apple iCal. If you’ve followed my blog for any significant length of time you’ll recall that I used Google Calendar back around the VMworld 2008 timeframe, with iCal and CalDAV, to help coordinate vendor meetings and such. So, today, I decided that starting in January, I’d move all my calendaring to Google Calendar and manage it via CalDAV from iCal. So I go out to the Google Help site and look up the instructions for connecting iCal to Google Calendar via CalDAV.

Alas, the old instructions are gone; all that remains are new instructions that say “Use our new tool!” Hey, this is a nifty tool and all, but I’d prefer to do it manually. Where’s the information on doing it manually? Gone, apparently.

After far too long using Google to search for information on how to manually configure iCal to use CalDAV to talk to Google Calendar—and primarily getting results back that were from Google and had no such information—I finally stumbled across this page that described how to use Google Apps and CalDAV support with iCal. Piecing together bits of information from there and the previous time I configured iCal, I was able to make it work.

For the benefit of everyone else out there who prefers to do things the hard way, here’s the information you need to manually configure iCal to use CalDAV with Google Calendar.

  1. In iCal, select iCal > Preferences… and then click on Accounts.
  2. Click the + sign to add a new account.
  3. Specify a description. For username, add your Google Calendar login information, like “[email protected]”, and put in your password.
  4. Expand the “Server Options” section to expose the Account URL setting.
  5. For Account URL, specify “[Google Calendar ID]/user”. Note that it’s actually “/user” there at the end, not your user name. The Google Calendar ID in brackets is visible in Google Calendar by going to the settings for a calendar and looking toward the bottom of the Calendar Details tab. You’ll see some funky junk like “[email protected]” or similar. That’s the Google Calendar ID.
  6. Click Add.

That should be it. Note that these instructions work for any calendar you create in Google Calendar, but they don’t work for Google Apps users. Google Apps users should follow the link above for information.

By the way, it’s also worth mentioning that CalDAV accounts like this are synced to your iPhone, too. Handy.

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  1. Makea’s avatar

    What would really be great is if iPhone ical supported CalDAV also. To sync calendar entries created on the iPhone, I need to sync with iTunes, then wait for OS X iCal to sync everything to Google.

    Have you tried BusySync? It’s rock solid. I’ve been using it with my wife to manage business and personal life with 7 different calendars for well over a year. Everything syncs perfectly between the two of us and Google.

  2. Marc Seeger’s avatar

    Glad I could be of service :)

  3. barefootguru’s avatar

    Brilliant, thanks for writing this up dude. I also prefer to spend a few minutes configuring iCal than install another app.

    For anybody who’s not aware (I couldn’t find this spelled out) this sync is bidirectional–iCal updates will appear back on your Google calendar.

  4. Matijs’s avatar

    For what it’s worth. I totally missed that last line in the article cause I only really needed the server URL. However, that worked flawlessly and I used it with a Google Apps account…

    Thanks for sharing and I have to agree, I don’t understand the dedicated app Google released for this at all.

  5. Tom’s avatar

    Well, I am able to c the information from my google calendar in ical (mac), and I am able to add new event to that calendar in my ical, BUT, these event’s don’t get from some reason to my google calendar….
    What do u think will b the reason?

    Thanx for the article!

    And I’m still hoping they will bring Notebook back, but that’s something else… (Evernote is not as organized as I thought it will be)

  6. Tom’s avatar

    Just realize something!

    All my sub-calendars does sync both directions. Calendars like “Work” “weekly activity”. What is only one-direction (as described in the previous reply) is the main “Tom” calendar.

    This is also the only calendar that doesn’t have that “funky” long line for the [Google Calendar ID] and is simply using my [email protected]

    That’s probably the key to it…

  7. JP’s avatar

    or you can download “Calaboration” here