Adding both primary and secondary Google calendars to the iPhone

One of the nice new features of the iPhone 3.0 software was the ability to add internet calendars (called CalDAV or iCal calendars) to the built-in Calendar app. B and I did this for several of our calendars many months ago and I promptly forgot how to do it when I needed that knowledge again this morning. To prevent me from having to relearn it all again next time, here it is.

Adding your default (technically called ‘primary’) Google calendar to your iPhone is very simple:

  1. Go into Settings
  2. Select Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  3. Select Add Account…
  4. Select Other
  5. Select Add CalDAV Account
  6. Enter the following information:
    • Server:
    • User Name: [your Google username]
    • Password: [your Google password]
    • Description: [what you want to call the calendar]
  7. Click Next

You’re done – events from the calendar should now show up under the Calendar application.

Adding a Google Calendar that isn’t your default calendar is more challenging and requires some extra steps.

On your computer:

  1. Open Google Calendars and identify which calendar you want to add to your iPhone.
  2. Open up the Calendar Settings for the desired calendar.
  3. Look down the page to the Calendar Address section. On the right side of that line you’ll see a Calendar ID, such as:
  4. Copy this and send yourself an email, to an address that you can check on the iPhone, with the calendar ID in it (unless you want to type all of that in by hand).

On your iPhone:

  1. Read the email you sent to yourself and copy the calendar ID string
  2. Go into Settings
  3. Select Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  4. Select Add Account…
  5. Select Other
  6. Select Add CalDAV Account
  7. Enter the following information:
    • Server:
    • User Name: [your Google username]
    • Password: [your Google password]
    • Description: [what you want to call the calendar]
  8. Click Next
  9. Select the calendar you just created to view/edit it.
  10. Select Advanced Settings
  11. Edit the Account URL:
    1. Remove everything after the “dav/” part of the URL (note: keep the dav/ part!).
    2. Paste the calendar ID you copied from your email — this can be oddly tricky but is doable.
    3. After the calendar ID, append the string “/user”.
  12. Your URL will look something like this:
  13. Go back to the main Settings screen using the back buttons at the top of the screen.

You should now be able to go into your Calendar and see the events on your newly added calendar.

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I'm a gay geek living in Seattle, WA.

3 thoughts on “Adding both primary and secondary Google calendars to the iPhone”

    1. Your username/password is the only thing you need if you’re just adding your primary calendar but you have to go through that whole rigamarole to get the others added.

      Evolution now has support for adding multiple Google calendars with just your username/password (it goes out and fetches a list of all your calendars after you provide your login credentials) so I know it’s possible. I’m unsure if the method Evolution (and probably the Pre) uses is proprietary for Google Calendars or if that’s a standard iCal access path. Sounds like either way the Pre makes it much easier!

      Who knows, given that iPhone OS 3 just added support for iCal it may not be until iPhone OS 4 before they remove the need for that crazy workaround.


      1. I suspect it’s the proprietary route on the Pre, what I meant by “less flexible”, because there’s a steady trickle of updates with each WebOS version (1.2 due soon) with new supported services on the calendar, email, and search apps. But I honestly don’t care since I use GCal and it “just works”. Now if the task list app could sync with GTasks, that would make my month.


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