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Using Calendar

In the old days, the only way to get events on the iPhone's calendar was to either type them on the phone or sync the iPhone with iTunes and ask it to copy your events from computer to phone. Thanks to the introduction of Exchange and MobileMe push synchronization, the iPhone's Calendar is a smarter application than it once was. In this section, I take a look at all the ways you can put life's events on your iPhone.

Managing many calendars

With iOS 4, Apple changed the way the Calendar app works. When you launch the Calendar app, by default you see a page displaying the current month, with the current day highlighted. When you tap the Calendars icon in the top-left corner, you're whisked to the Calendars screen, where you can switch calendars on and off.

That's right—much like Mail's unified inbox, the Calendar app's unified calendar shows events from all those calendars you've enabled. So if you want to view just the events on your Work calendar, enable just that calendar. (A calendar is enabled when it has a check mark next to its name in the Calendars screen.) To return to the calendar view, tap Done in the top-right corner of the screen.

Viewing events

Calendar is capable of displaying events in three views: List, Day, and Month. They're laid out like so.


As I mention earlier, when you launch Calendar you see this month's calendar by default, with today's date highlighted in blue. Other days maintain a gray, businesslike appearance. Tap another day, and it adopts the blue box while the present day gains a deeper gray hue. To return to the current day, tap it (if you're viewing the current month), or tap the Today button in the bottom-left corner of the screen. To move to the previous or next month, tap the Previous or Next arrow beside the month heading. To scan backward and forward faster, tap and hold one of these arrows.

Any days on the calendar that have events appended to them bear a small black dot below the date. Tap a day with a dot, and the events for that day appear in a list below the calendar (Figure 4.16), each preceded by its start time and a colored dot indicating the calendar to which the event is attached. (Calendars are color-coded.) Tap an event in this list, and you're taken to the Event screen, which details the name and location of the event, its date, its start and end times, any alerts you've created, and any notes you've added for the event.

Figure 4.16

Figure 4.16 Month view with two events.

To edit or delete the event, tap the Edit icon in the top-right corner of the screen. Within the Edit screen, tap one of the fields to change its information. (I discuss these fields in "Creating events" later in this chapter.) To delete an event, tap the red Delete Event button at the bottom of the screen; then tap the Delete Event confirmation icon that appears.


Tap the Day view button, and as you'd expect, you see the day laid out in a list, divided into hours. The day of the week and its date appear near the top of the screen. To move to the previous or next day, tap the Previous or Next arrow. To scan backward or forward more quickly, tap and hold the appropriate arrow.

Each event appears as a colored bar (again, each calendar is color-coded, and that coding is reflected here) spanning the time that the event occupies and labeled with the name of the appointment and its location (Figure 4.17). All-day events appear just below the day and date near the top of the screen. Just as you do with events in Month view, tap them to reveal their details; to edit them, tap the Edit button.

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.17 Day view with two events.


List view shows a list of all the events on your calendar, separated by gray date bars. Each gray bar bears the day's abbreviated name (Fri or Mon, for example) and the month, date, and year of the event. The event's title appears just below, preceded by its start time and a colored dot indicating its calendar association. Once again, tap an event to view its details. Tap Edit to edit the event or delete it via the Delete Event button (Figure 4.18).

Figure 4.18

Figure 4.18 Editing an event.

Creating events

Creating events on the iPhone is simple. Just tap the plus icon in the top-right corner of the screen to produce the Add Event screen, where you'll find a list of fields:

  • Title and Location. The title of the event appears when you select the event's date in Month view. Both an event's title and location appear in the Day-view list, and in List view, you see just the event's title. As with any other field on the iPhone, just type the entries and tap Save when you're done.
  • Starts/Ends. The title is explanation enough. Just tap the Starts/Ends field, and in the resulting Start & End screen, enter a start date and time by using the spinning wheels at the bottom of the screen (Figure 4.19). Then tap the Ends field, and dial in an end date and time. If the event lasts all day, tap the All-Day switch to set it to On.
    Figure 4.19

    Figure 4.19 Set the duration of your event.

  • Repeat. You can create an event that occurs every day, week, 2 weeks, month, or year. This method is a convenient way to remind yourself of your kid's weekly piano lesson or your own wedding anniversary.
  • Alert. A fat lot of good an electronic calendar does you if you're not paying attention to the date or time. Tap Alert, and direct the iPhone to sound an alert at a specific time before the event's start (5, 15, or 30 minutes; 1 or 2 hours; or 1 or 2 days before the event) or on the date of the event.

    You can create two alerts per event—useful when you want to remind yourself of events for the day and need another mental nudge a few minutes before the event occurs.

  • Calendar. Using this command, you can assign the new event to any calendar you have on your iPhone.
  • Notes. Feel free to type a bit of text to remind yourself exactly why you're allowing Bob Whosis to dominate your Thursday afternoon.

Syncing events

Your computer and your iPhone have a nice sharing relationship with regard to events. When you create an event on one device, it's copied to the other, complete with title, location, start and end times, alerts (likely called alarms in your computer's calendar program), and notes.

As I explain in Chapter 2, iTunes' Info tab lets you choose the computer-based calendars that you want to sync with the iPhone. If you have an Exchange or MobileMe account, calendar events associated with those accounts are pushed to your iPhone (and the iPhone pushes right back those events that you create on it).

Deleting events

Quite frankly, deleting events by using the iPhone's interface is a pain in the neck. As I mention earlier in the chapter, you tap an event, tap the Edit button in the Event screen, tap the red Delete Event button at the bottom of the screen, and then tap Delete Event again. This procedure is a very inefficient way to delete events, particularly lots of events that have expired. You're better off letting iTunes lend a hand.

To do so, plug your iPhone into the computer and then select it in iTunes' Source list. Click the Info tab, and configure the option titled Do Not Sync Events Older Than x Days, where x is the number of past days you're willing to keep expired events on your iPhone (Figure 4.20). When you next sync your iPhone, events that occurred more than x days before the current date will be removed from the phone.

Figure 4.20

Figure 4.20 It's easier to delete lots of events through iTunes.

If you'd like to delete multiple future events, delete them from your computer's calendar. If you're using a nonpush account, when you sync your iPhone, the events will disappear from the iPhone's calendar as well. When Exchange and your MobileMe account are set up to synchronize calendars, deleting events either on the server or on the iPhone will cause the event to vanish from every synced service and device.

Subscribing to a calendar

You can also subscribe to Web-based calendars with your iPhone, which supports both CalDAV and iCal formats. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account.
  2. Tap Other in the Add Account screen.
  3. In the Calendars section of the Other screen, choose either Add CalDAV Account or Add Subscribed Calendar.

    Which option you choose depends on the kind of calendar you want to subscribe to. iCal calendars are generally available to the public and require only that you have a server address in the form iCalShare ( is a repository for such public calendars. For these types, you'd choose the Add Subscribed Calendar option.

    CalDAV calendars are server-based; they require you to know the name of the host server and to have a user name and password for that server.

  4. Enter the required information to subscribe to the calendar.
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