The Holy Grail of Calendaring: sync’ing Exchange and Gcal using your Macintosh
Update February 2012: if you have Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) or later, check out Tungle. It is now possible to put your Exchange appointments and google appointments on the same calendar! Hooray! Using their connector and activating Outlook 2011′s Syncing services are the keys to getting this to work.
Update: this post applies to Mac OS X Leopard (10.5), Microsoft Outlook 2007 and Microsoft Exchange 2007. This post still gets a lot of traffic. If you’re looking to connect Snow Leopard to Exchange, try this post on The Apple Blog.
The short answer: it ain’t happening. But if you’re a Mac user, you’re used to pretty things in pretty packages that “just work” …except when they don’t. Then, if you’re like me, you spend hours casting about for work-around or magical solutions that will kludge things together just right, then blame Bill Gates when it doesn’t work. (Because we won’t blame The Steve.)
My goals are to get out of running Outlook (and thus Windows) and to have one calendar that contains my work appointments (Exchange) and my personal appointments, which are currently kept in Google calendar. Here is a list of things I’ve tried and discarded:
- Outlook 2007 running under Windows XP, using the Parallels Desktop emulator. This application, while elegant, is a processor and memory hog unless you have 2 GB of RAM. If you have 2 gigs of RAM and don’t mind jumping through this many Microsoft hoops, this solution is for you. One word of advice, though: once you get a windows virtual machine created with Office and your favorite AntiVirus software installed, create a clone of it and store that clone somewhere other than your hard drive. You will need gSyncIt to copy appointments from Outlook to a single Google calendar and vice versa.
- GroupCal is a program that syncs between Exchange 2000 or 2003 and iCal. It does not work with Exchange 2007 or under Leopard.
- SpanningSync is a program that syncs between iCal and Google calendar, which is great, but it leaves Exchange out of the equation.
- Entourage 2004 is a bloated piece of Very Broken Microsoft Crap that I would wish on no one. Entourage 2008 is its slightly slicker package that I will still not tolerate, as it makes my system beachball at random and inconvenient intervals, often falling behind on simple tasks like opening or typing an email. (Also: I know this is coincidence, but over the last month, I’ve installed Office 2008 twice, on two different Macs, and both hard drives died within a few days of installation. My IT advises against using Office 2008; I’m sticking to that for now.)
- Plaxo Online, with its rather Facebooky interface, purports to sync Outlook and Gcal to itself. Unfortunately, Outlook sync’ing requires, well, Outlook.
- Publish my work calendar on the web using Office Online, then do some iCal-fu to import to iCal and Gcal. This seemed like too much work, not to mention that it requires Outlook.
My current solution: use the gmail interface for work email and have a second tab in my web browser to my Exchange calendar. Even if there were a way to sync Exchange appointments with Google Calendar, I would probably have to continue working this way in order to create, accept, and decline appointments. I don’t like the stranglehold that Microsoft has on my calendar data; either I’m missing something or they just do not play well with others.