I used to joke that I had absolutely no excuse to be unaware of the current time. Living in a small studio apartment a couple years ago, I could glance around and see a clock on my microwave, on the stove, on the VCR, on my computer, on my alarm clock, and on my wrist. As I said, no excuse – ever – to be late because I “lost track of time.” These days, it’s almost the same, except now I’m talking about being aware of the date, as well as events I have planned. Calendar applications are everywhere it seems, and the subject of this article – a Google Chrome extension called simply My Calendar – is no exception.
I use a lot of Google products (Gmail, Google Chrome, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Reader, Google Voice), so anything I can do to integrate them into my life, other than placing links on my desktop or in by web browser bookmarks, helps make me a more efficient person. Google recently introduced an official extension – Google Calendar (by Google) – but it doesn’t suit my needs as much as it could. On the other hand, My Calendar (which also doesn’t exactly fit what I want), is a lot closer.
How does it work? When you first install My Calendar, you’ll see a new red and white calendar icon appear in the toolbar. Click this icon and you’ll see a little window telling you to set up My Calendar in the extension’s options page. Going there provides two different settings options. You can simply input your Gmail address, which will grab your basic calendar, or you can use the Google Calendar Embed Customizer to display your calendar exactly the way you want.
If you’ve ever used the Google Calendar Embed Customizer (which I hadn’t before today), it’s pretty great. It allows you to show exactly which calendar elements are shown, and to hide the ones you don’t want. You can hide or add the following: Title, Navigational buttons, Date, Print icon, Tabs, Calendar list and Time zone. You can choose week, month or agenda view to be the default, and the width and height can also be customized. You can choose to start your calendar on Sunday, Monday or Saturday, as well as to set your default language and time zone. The calendar’s background is also customizable, and you can choose to show the calendar with a thin border around it as well. If you use multiple calendars, you can choose which to display.
When you’ve finished customizing your calendar, update the HTML, then copy and paste the code back into the My Calendar options. In this way, the calendar you just modified will be what shows up when you now click the My Calendar button. To now use My Calendar, you simply do just that: click the button. A pop-up window will appear (760×560 pixels in size, I believe), showing you your customized Google Calendar. You can change views (assuming you haven’t hidden the tabs or calendar list), and flip forward and backward to previous and upcoming months (assuming you haven’t hidden the navigational buttons).
And that’s pretty much it. My Calendar is not a full replacement for Google Calendar. I said earlier that it’s not exactly what I’m looking for, and that’s true. What it can’t do at the moment – because it’s using the embedded Google Calendar and not the actual Google Calendar interface – is add items to your calendar. You can get more information about events already on your calendar, but not add a new one. You do have one-click access to the “real” Google Calendar, however. Just click the Google Calendar button/icon on the bottom-right corner of the calendar pop-up, and Google Calendar will load.
Still, I love being able to customize the look of the calendar I’m shown, and I’m sure other people do as well. We all have ways we like to look at upcoming events. Some people (like me), want the traditional calendar view, while others will want the agenda view, or something else entirely. My Calendar caters to different ideas of what a calendar should look like. And since I use Google Calendar, I like that integration as well! It would be nice if it could somehow add the ability to add events (maybe using the Quick Add feature?), and until it does, it’s not quite “there” in my mind. But it’s also one of the better calendar extensions I’ve seen, and I’ll be watching its progress.