A few months back Google changed the way users can synchronize Gmail data with Microsoft Outlook. A utility called "Google Calendar sync" was discontinued in favor of "Google Apps sync" which has a broader scope (but is now only applicable to Google Apps Business or Education users running Windows).
Google Apps sync can exchange calendar data between Outlook and Gmail along with email, contacts, notes and tasks. To clarify, true two-way calendar synchronization between Exchange email and Google Apps isn't available via this method; this process entails setting up a new Outlook profile with a PST file which stores your Google calendar data. If you already have an existing Exchange account you can toggle back and forth between your company and your Google Outlook profile to use each separately.
Using Google Apps sync for the entire array of Outlook services has already been covered here on the Google in the Enterprise blog. However, what if you just want to work with your Google calendar data in Outlook? This could come in handy if you want to periodically export an existing Outlook calendar to Gmail or you are more comfortable working with your schedule via the Outlook interface.
Google Apps sync is compatible with Windows XP (32-bit), Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit) and Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit). It is not presently supported on Windows 8 or the Mac.
Applicable Outlook versions include 2003, 2007, and 2010 (with this hotfix installed). Google Apps sync isn't supported in Outlook 2013, but rumor has it that you may be able to get Google Apps sync to work with this version by copying gsync32.dll and unifiedlogin.dll from "c:\program files\google\google apps sync" to "c:\program files\microsoft office\office15."
Limitations and precautions
If you just want to get your Outlook calendar into Gmail and then stop using Outlook, Google recommends using Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook tool instead.
If you are interested in this concept because you want to set up your Google Calendar in Outlook for offline access, you should be aware that Google already allows offline Calendar access in Chrome.
Calendar attachments, rich content, and categories won't sync from Outlook to Gmail.
Configuring your Google Apps settings to permit calendar synchronization with OutlookAt present Google is phasing in a new Google Apps Admin console, so there are now two sets of steps. You can tell whether you have the new console because it won't have the blue tabs the old one uses. (Figure A)
Figure AGoogle Apps Documentation and Support page. (Figure B)
Installing Google Apps sync
Close Outlook if it is running, or you will receive an error upon installation stating "Unable to set up a Google Apps Sync account while Microsoft Outlook is running."
Access the Google Apps sync installer page.
Click "Download Google Apps Sync."
The tool should install automatically, but if it does not there is a manual install link provided on the page.Once the program has been successfully installed you will see the following box. (Figure D)
Enter your Google credentials. It's safe to leave "Remember me" checked if you are using your own password-protected account on this computer. Do not check this setting if this is a shared or public system - however I'd have to ask why anyone would set this sync utility up on such a device!Once you click Continue, you'll be prompted to create a Google Apps profile in Outlook and be given the option to import data from an existing profile. (Figure F)
If you simply want to bring your Google calendar down into a new Outlook profile and work from there, click "Create profile." Then skip down to "Working with your Google Calendar in Outlook."If you want to import existing Outlook calendar data to this new Outlook profile check off "Import data from an existing profile" (I know it sounds confusing because you're also EXPORTING the data to Google) and uncheck all options except "Calendars." (Figure G)
Working with your Google Calendar in OutlookClick "Start Microsoft Outlook" at the next screen. (Figure K)
In the screenshot above, "MS Exchange" is my local corporate Exchange profile. Use the profile called "(your Google Apps email address)-Google Apps." For instance "email@example.com-Google Apps."When Outlook opens you can view and administer the calendar the same as you would in an Exchange account. (Figure M)
(You'll also see this box every time you open your Google Apps profile in Outlook).
Reconfiguring Calendar SyncYou can adjust the calendars you want to synchronize between Google and Outlook, just right-click the Google Apps Sync icon. (Figure P)
In the above example I opted not to synchronize my Google contacts' birthdays and events or the US Holidays calendar, but I did choose to bring my "Sports and Vacation" calendar into Outlook.
If you want to rerun the setup process to update your Google calendar with the contents of an Outlook calendar (to reflect company schedule changes for instance) you can do this, but it will create a separate Outlook profile every time. I recommend deleting the Google Apps profile first and then rerunning the procedure from the beginning.
It's also worth pointing out that Google has a page urging you to manage your calendars via Google Calendar, explaining the benefits as well as limitations.
Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.