9 ways to make the most of Google Calendar for Android and iOS

Pick a default time for calendar alerts, create recurring events, set aside some "me time," and more.

9 ways to make the most of Google Calendar for Android and iOS
Credit: Ben Patterson

Google’s slick, modern-looking Calendar app for Android and iOS practically reads your mind as you’re creating an event, suggesting times, people and places that you can quickly add with a tap. As intuitive as it is, though, you can make it even better if you tweak a few settings. Read on to learn how to pick a default time for calendar alerts, create recurring events, set aside some “me time,” and more.

1. Let Calendar’s event editor fill in the blanks

The first step to adding an event or reminder to Google Calendar is to tap the big red + button in the bottom corner of the screen. When you do (and once you choose from Reminder or Event), the cursor will jump to the top of the event form, which looks like your typical title field.

Let Calendar’s event editor fill in the blanks Ben Patterson

Google Calendar will help fill in the blanks as you tap in the title of an event.

Once you start typing, though, Google will jump in with auto-fill options and suggestions. If you start typing “Pick up,” for example, Google Calendar will chime in with possibilities like “package,” “prescription,” “dry cleaning,” and “kids.”

Even when you’re done with the title, the Calendar app will continue prompting you for details like times, places, event durations, and people to invite.

Just go with the flow, and you’ll likely be able to create the entire event without ever leaving the initial title field.

2. Set a default duration for your events

Google Calendar will always ask how long you’d like an event to run, but you can save time by setting a default duration for your events.

Set a default duration for your events Ben Patterson

Want all your Google Calendar events to default to an hour long? Just tweak the “Default event duration” setting.

Tap the three-line menu button in the top-left corner of the screen. Tap Settings > General > Default event duration, then pick an option—anything from 15 minutes to two hours.

3. Add automatic alarms for your events

Nope, you don’t have to set up specific alarms for each event you create in Google Calendar. Instead, you can set up default alarms—as many as you like—for every event you add.

Set up automatic event reminders Ben Patterson

You can set Google Calendar to add one or more notifications to new events automatically.

Tap the menu button, again, tap Settings, then tap Events for one of your Google accounts. Under Default notifications, tap Add a notification, then pick an option—say, 10 minutes before the event, a day before, or a week before.

You can also tap “Custom” to set your own particular alarm time, as well as specify whether you’d like a device notification or an email reminder.

Keep in mind that you can create multiple default notifications. For example, you can set one default alarm for a day before an event, as well as a second alert an hour before and a third when the event begins.

4. Set up repeating events

Whether it's a daily meeting to attend or soccer practice for the kids every Sunday, you can set a Google Calendar event to repeat on a daily, weekly, monthly, or even annual schedule.

Set up repeating events Ben Patterson

You can set Google Calendar events to repeat daily, monthly, annually, or on any schedule you choose.

Just create a new event, add the title, date and time as usual, then tap More options under the date and time settings. Tap Does not repeat (that’s the default setting), then pick a schedule—daily, weekly, monthly, or annually, or tap Custom to create your own schedule (such as, every Tuesday).

5. Show more calendar events on the screen

On tablet-sized devices, Google Calendar puts a cheerful, season-appropriate doodle along the top of your calendar pages. Lovely, yes, but you can also lose the doodle if you want more screen space for your calendar events.

Show more calendar events on the screen Ben Patterson

Love the design, but let’s fit more calendar events onto the screen, shall we?

Tap the hamburger button in the top corner of the screen, tap Settings > General, then enable the “Show more events” setting.

6. Pick new colors for your calendars and events

Google Calendar automatically assigns colors to each of your calendars. Each time you create an event, it gets color-coded according to the calendar in which it was created.

Pick new colors for your calendars and events Ben Patterson

You can specify the color for any of your Google calendars or even for individual events.

If you want to pick your own color for a particular calendar or even an individual event, you can do so in a few taps.

To pick a color for a calendar, tap the three-line menu button in the top corner of the screen, tap Settings, tap a calendar, then tap Color to choose a new hue.

To assign a new color to a specific event, open an existing event (or create a new one), tap the edit button (the one shaped like a pencil), then tap the color setting (which is probably labeled “Default color”).

7. Set aside some “me time”

If you’ve got a personal goal you’d like to achieve—anything from getting in shape to learning to play the banjo—Google Calendar can help you find the time to do it.

Set aside some Ben Patterson

Just ask, and Google Calendar will find the time for some personal improvement in your busy schedule.

Just tap the red + button and select Goal, then choose a category. Among the goals you can pick: work out, learn a language, reach out to a friend, do chores, or indulge in a little “me time.” You can also create a custom activity, if you wish.

Once you pick a goal, you’ll need to specify how often and for how long you’d like to work toward it. Once that’s done, Google Calendar squeezes time for your goal into your busy schedule.

8. Start the week on a day other than Sunday

You’re not alone if you feel like Sunday marks the end of your week rather than the beginning. Luckily, there’s a way to break with tradition.

Start the week on a day other than Sunday Ben Patterson

Want to begin the week on a Monday? Just change Google Calendar’s “Start of the week” setting.

Tap the three-line menu button, tap Settings > General > Start of the week, then pick an alternative: Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

9. Quickly delete an event or check off a to-do

If you’re viewing your overall schedule in Calendar (tap the three-line menu button, then tap Schedule), you can easily delete an event or mark a to-do as completed without having to open the event itself.

Quickly delete an event or check off a to-do Ben Patterson

Swipe an entry in Google Calendar’s “Schedule” view to delete it or mark is as completed.

The trick: just swipe it from left to right. When you do, you’ll reveal either a trash can or checkmark, depending on whether you’re swiping an event or a reminder. Keep swiping to trash the event or complete the to-do.

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