The Easiest and Best way to Sync your Google Calendar with iCal, for Free

Google Calendar is one of the best calendaring solutions I’ve found simply because it handles three things – SMS alerts, its portable and it’s free. iCal is a great front-end calendar that many enjoy using although it has limitations. Sure, you can use Mobile Me, for a price. However, with Google Calendar as a back-end you can go anywhere and be alerted along the way for free.

So, how exactly do you connect your Google Calendar with iCal?

Before This Summer:

Before this summer, you needed either some sort of hack, or a third party solution. Some of these solutions weren’t free, some didn’t fully work and some of them required your personal calendar to be stored on their servers. (As well as Google’s)

That all changed when Google enabled CalDAV support. Now, here’s all you have to do:

Sync Google Calendar with iCal:

1. Open iCal and open the Preferences dialogue.

2. Click on the Accounts Tab.

3. Click the plus sign to create a new account.

4. Enter the following into the fields:
– Description: This is the Title for your CalDav Account
– Username: Enter your Google account’s email. For this tutorial, I’ll use [email protected]
– Password: The password for your Google Account.

5. Click the triangle to open up the Server Options.

6. Enter the following into the Account URL field: Calendar Email Address)/user

Note: You must enter “https://” in the URL field. If you enter “http://” it will not work.

7. Click add and wait a few minutes while the first sync takes place.

That’s it. Your Google Calendar and iCal will sync every 15 minutes by default. You can change this in the Preferences under the Accounts Tab if you like. Also, you may press Command+R to manually sync the calendars.

Additional Alarm Information:

One of the biggest disappointments for me of other solutions was that they never got the alarms right in Google Calendar. As I said at the beginning of this tutorial, SMS alerts is a major reason for using Google Calendar as my back-end solution. Syncing iCal with Google Calendar in this manner FINALLY gets it right!

Here’s the iCal alarm codes and their Google Calendar translations:

– None in iCal = None in Google Calendar.
– Message in iCal = Pop-Up in Google Calendar.
– Message with Sound in iCal = SMS in Google Calendar.
– Email in iCal = Email in Google Calendar.
– Open File in iCal = Default Alarm in Google Calendar.
– Run Script in iCal = Default Alarm in Google Calendar.

3 thoughts on “The Easiest and Best way to Sync your Google Calendar with iCal, for Free

  1. Great Post! I always wondered how alarms are synced with iCal form Google so i really thank you for this!

  2. I know this is an older article, and I’m guessing some things have changed. I happened upon it trying to figure out how to sync my alerts and reminders between my Google Calendar and iCal.

    The iCal alarm codes and their Google Calendar translations no longer seem to work, at least not trying to set up a SMS reminder using iCal.

    Any thoughts on how to do this now?

    Thanks, and helpful article!

  3. @ Nick – You are in luck, I have an update on this very subject set for Thursday. Since Google Calendar is now integrated with CalDAV, it fixes all of these issues. It syncs now with iPhones, iPod Touches, iCal and if you’re like me – Thunderbird with the Lightning extension.