A free Google or Gmail account also gives you Google Calendar, making it one of the most popular calendar apps on the planet. Although it is loaded with features, it is not perfect. These free apps and extensions make Google Calendar better and more productive than ever.
1. Button for Google Calendar (Chrome): Simple drop-down pane for quick view events
One of the best Chrome extensions for Google Calendar is a simple drop-down pane that shows a preview of upcoming events. There’s one built by Google itself and then another by third-party developer Manas Tungare. Unfortunately, both of these are no longer available. But there is a worthy replacement in Button for Google Calendar.
In fact, the makers of Button say that their open source extension is a clone of Tungare’s original. Once you’ve installed and signed in, click the icon in the extension bar to see a pane with today’s and tomorrow’s upcoming events. In the case of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Google Meet calls, you’ll also see a link for the meeting room to click on and join directly.
The button for Google Calendar also allows you to create calendar events via a keyboard shortcut. Press the Plus icon to add a name, date and time, location, link, and message to create a new entry. The extension also supports push notifications to remind you of upcoming events without clicking a button.
Download: Button for Google Calendar for Chrome (Free)
GCalToolkit is a paid desktop program for calendar users to work around many limitations of Google Calendar. The same manufacturers developed GCalPlus, a free Google Chrome extension that adds some powerful features to Google Calendar and fixes many of the app’s problems.
Here is a quick list of some of the best features of GCalPlus:
- Duplicate events / Create multiple events: Every event has a “Copy multiple” option to copy the event to a new date or dates on your calendar. It’s a great choice for recurring events.
- Headers expand on hover: Google Calendar does not display the full titles of events that exceed a certain character limit. Whether it’s blocked because of the viewport or because of overlapping events, you can now hover over any title tag to see the full title of the title.
- Other ‘All Day’ Events: See twice as many All Day events in Weekly and Daily views.
- Group of events all day: All-Day events will be grouped in alphabetical order because their duration is not important.
- More events in Month view and L/R arrows: See twice as many events per day in the ‘Month’ view and use the simple left and right arrow keys instead of ‘n’ and ‘p’ for the next or previous day.
- Show busy days: The month icon in the left sidebar will show red dots to represent dates with some events.
- Hide event illustrations: Remove GCal’s auto-added header image.
There are several other features in GCalPlus that you can check out after installing the app or in the extensive video tutorial on its Chrome Store page. If you like it, check out the other free downloads from GCalToolkit.
Download: GCalPlus for Chrome (Free)
3. Calendarist (Web): Easy time blocking and time tracking for Google Calendar
An essential element to being more productive is a fair assessment of time. You need to understand what you’re spending your time on (time tracking) and set aside time to complete your tasks (time blocking). Calendarist works with your Google Calendar to help you figure out both of these time estimates.
After you connect your Google Calendar to the web app, Calendarist pulls all the data to see where you spent your time. It encourages you to use hashtags to tag each event in a certain way. You can also set up rules for auto-tagging; for example, all events that contain a Zoom link will be tagged #videocall, or all events on your calendar will be tagged #tasks. The more you use and create events, the app will learn your categories and suggest tags.
Calendarist organizes all that data in the form of charts and graphs so you figure out where you’re really spending your time. The app also encourages you to set goals and create recurring events so you can block time for those activities in your calendar.
Note that Calendarist is more of an analyst than a replacement for GCal. Use the data it gives you and learn how to block time in Google Calendar, as you need to combine the two to maximize your productivity.
4. CalendarPush (Web): Sync two or more Google calendars while maintaining privacy
Usually you should have separate calendars for your work life (Cal W) and personal life (Cal P). But synchronizing the two is broken in GCal. Sure, Google allows you to add multiple calendars to a view, but if there’s an event in Cal W, it won’t automatically block time for an event in Cal P.
CalendarPush makes that possible in a one-time, no-fuss setup. Sign in to the web app with your primary calendar, then add a second calendar to sync with it. That’s really all you need to do. Now, when you create a new event in either calendar, it will show up as a blocked time in the other. In the settings you can also set CalendarPush to fire only for events that you have marked as “To attend”.
The app does a few things right on this basis, mostly about privacy. Work schedules are often shared with colleagues. You don’t want them to know about any personal events you’ve flagged on Cal P. So a blocked time on Cal W will just say “Busy,” thus letting you know that you have some calls. Appointment for that time on your Cal P, which only you can check.
CalendarPush is free to sync two calendars. If you want to sync more, each additional calendar costs $20 per year. But as the team says, for most users, two calendars is all you need.
By default, Google Calendar shows two categories in the sidebar: My Calendars (calendars you’ve created) and Other Calendars (calendars that others have created and shared with you). You can enable/disable any of these to display in your main view. But when you are managing several calendars (such as shifts of several workers or multiple project schedules with different tasks), it becomes tedious to select these calendars manually each time. and time consuming.
The Multiple Calendars selector allows you to create groups from your own or shared calendars. For example, you can add Tom, Dick, and Harry’s schedules to create a “Weekly Changes” group so you can see them all together. This view is only available to you on the computer where you have the extension installed.
You can create as many reservation groups as you like. Rename them in the extension’s options page and select the calendar you want in that group. It may take a few refreshes for the calendar list to show up. Just follow the instructions in the options page if it doesn’t work the first few times.
Download: Multiple Calendar Picker for Chrome (Free)
Learn Google Calendar Shortcuts
The purpose of these apps is to make Google Calendar better and easier, but to recognize the use when it’s due; Google itself has put a lot of effort into that. A lot of people don’t use Google Calendar or create events in it because they simply don’t know how easy it is with the multitude of keyboard shortcuts available.
Google Calendar shortcuts will let you create a new event in seconds while adding all the relevant details. You can also add shortcuts in Chrome’s URL bar. And the Google Assistant supports voice commands to create, cancel, or reschedule events and find out what happens next. The more you learn, the more productive you will be with Google Calendar.
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https://www.makeuseof.com/apps-extensions-make-google-calendar-better-productive/ 5 Apps and Extensions to Make Google Calendar Better and More Productive