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Syncing iCal calendars with iCloud

My setup is current on both the Mac side (10.7.3) and the iOS side (5.0.1).

I have many calendars set up in iCal, with various ones hosted on several platforms (including iCloud, Google, and Exchange) and all work as I'd expect within iCal. My goal is to get all of them synced to my iOS device simply and easily, and my hope was that iCloud would offer that. So far I have been unable to make that happen with iCloud; in fact, so far I can't even get all my calendars synced to the iCloud service, I can only make it work for my iCloud calendar itself.

Even after reading both TCO iCloud and TCO Your iPad I'm not sure if iCloud even offers all of what I'm asking for. On the one hand your books make repeated statements about iCloud's goal being automatic, easy updates of data across devices, which leads me to suspect that iCloud will sync ALL of my iCal data up to its Web site, then back down to iOS. However, the books do not explicitly go that far and actually are ambiguous on this point, which makes me suspect iCloud will sync to only SOME of my iCal data, not all of it (i.e., perhaps not to Exchange or Google calendars in iCal).

Can you tell me which is correct?

Thank you in advance,
--
Mike Opitz
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  • Michael Cohen (Viscount of Syntax) February 27, 2012 00:47
    iCloud only syncs the calendars within iCal that are iCloud calendars. Although iCal can also show you Google and Exchange calendars, they have to be synced separately with your iPad; iCloud does not "see" them.

    You can sync Google and Exchange calendars on your iPad directly with Google and your Exchange server. On your iPad tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and then tap New Account. Tap the appropriate item on the New Account screen to create a Google or Exchange calendar on your iPad.

    In short, don't confuse iCal with iCloud. iCal is designed to work with various types of calendar. iCloud is merely one of those types.
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  • Hi Mike,

    I was going to say pretty much what Michael said. iCloud isn't a general-purpose sync service for all calendars from any source; it's intended to sync its own calendars, or calendars that were previously stored only on your Mac, with the server and other devices. By analogy, Mail can check Gmail, IMAP, iCloud, POP, and Exchange accounts—but it doesn't sync your mailboxes between, say, Gmail and iCloud. iCal and the iOS Calendars app are the same way. They can independently sync calendars stored on multiple servers, but not sync server-based calendars with each other. If you want your Mac or your iOS device to sync calendars from multiple services, you simply set up each one individually.

    Cheers,

    Joe
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  • Thank you both - I'm clear now, and I was afraid that's what you'd say. I was hoping it would all "just work" w/o me having to do multiple setups or deal with my employer's IT dept for server settings (since my iPad won't connect to my firm's Exchange server using Apple's instructions), but I now see that's a pipe dream.

    One minor quibble about Joe's analogy - shouldn't Mail be considered analogous to iCal, not iCloud? That is, I never expected iCal to do any syncing of data to iOS from multiple services, much less syncing between services (e.g., a Google calendar with an Exchange calendar). My only hope was that iCloud would communicate with Google and/or Exchange services for me behind the scenes as a "one-stop shop" single meta-interface to all my calendar data. But you've now made it clear that it won't.

    This nuance about the boundaries of iCloud's intent is subtle for those of us who don't think about it all the time, so I hope you'll both consider an explicit clarification in future updates of your books. Either way, thanks again for clarifying it for me here.

    Mike
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  • Joe Kissell (Minister of Text) March 05, 2012 07:17
    Hi Mike,

    Sorry to have been the bearer of bad news! Actually I did mean to Mail was analogous to iCal, not to iCloud. It sounded like you expected iCloud to sync all of iCal's calendars, but that would be like saying you expect it to sync your AOL and Gmail mailboxes. Apple never claimed that iCloud would interact with non-Apple services, but its individual apps can if you set them up manually.

    Joe
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  • Thanks for the info. Please help me with similar calendar situation. I have an Exchange calendar that syncs with my iOS (iPad) device; I would like to see this same calendar on my iMac, and would like to sync with Google Calendar, and my Apple based iCal calendar. In the past I used Google calendar sync and synced from from various services to my Google calendars. This is not an option for me since our IT group now denies the Google calendar sync feature. Thoughts?
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  • Joe Kissell (Minister of Text) July 28, 2012 22:42
    You can use iCal or BusyCal to connect to Exchange calendars and Google Calendars, as well as iCloud calendars. However, I don't have any solution for you that syncs one set of data among different calendar servers.

    Joe
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  • I am having a similar problem. I have 10 categories of calendars in iCal. It seems iCloud will only allow 3: "Home", "Work" and "Turbotax". How do I get all of my calendars on iCloud so they will sync with my iPhone etc.
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  • As far as I know, iCloud doesn't limit your number of calendars—I have eight at the moment. Not sure why your other calendars didn't transfer, but if it were me, I'd export the extra calendars and then re-import them as iCloud calendars. That should work, but again, since I'm not experiencing the same problem, I'm not entirely sure.

    Joe
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  • Joe,

    I have finally found the solution to my problem. The other calendars did not transfer because they were MobileMe (MM) calendars and iCloud only supports On My Mac (OMM) calendars. Each MM calendar has to be exported separately, (select, file, export) then a new OMM calendar has to be created and each exported MM calendar has to be imported into the new OMM calendar.

    Once all of the MM calendars have been transferred to OMM calendars then iCloud will show all of the calendars.

    Time consuming but it solves the problem.

    Thank you,

    Gail
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  • Found another nifty solution to this: for my self, I export from iCal (on an iMac using Mountain Lion) and then send the "share" invite to myself... and import it into my calendar on my mbpro running Snow Leopard. Then, any time I update my calendar on any iOS device or my iMac, it pushes the update out to the subscription as well. To enable the auto-updates in iCal (Snow Leopard) I simply click on "update hourly." Works well!
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  • I was reading some comments about this need, I hope anyone can help me, in my work everyone uses PC and Lotus Notes like exchange mail and iPhones too, my idea is to use iCloud to synch the calendar of mi iPhone with Cal of my MBP which I use in my home. I know that is difficult according with some comments, but someone could recommend a software that I can use to get synch all my calendars?

    Thank you,

    JLP
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  • Joe Kissell (Minister of Text) July 31, 2013 16:08
    @Martin Sorry, iCloud syncing doesn't work like that. The only calendars you can sync with iCloud are iCloud calendars. Your iPhone (and Calendar on your Mac) can _directly_ sync Exchange calendars, but you can't really sync a server-based calendar on your phone with a local calendar on your Mac.
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