How To Add a Subscribed Calendar to iCal, Your iPhone and iPad

Calendar subscriptions have been around a long time and are a great way to add bulk events to your calendar without having to manually enter them yourself.  There are thousands of calendars for you to subscribe to on the Internet, some useful and some not so much.  But the fact is that they are there.  I personally subscribe to multiple calendars depending on the time of the year.  During Formula One season I subscribe to a calendar that puts all of the F1 races on my calendar. The same is true for baseball as I have the Texas Rangers schedule in there.  I also have my TripIt calendar as well so my trips are automagically added to my calendar without me having to do anything.

In this how to I’m going to show you how to subscribe to calendars in iCal on your Mac and how to get them to appear on your iPhone and/or iPad.  To do this I’ll be leveraging me iCloud account which will allow me to add subscribed calendars to it.  Google Calendars and Hotmail Calendars will also allow subscriptions but I have found that iCloud and Google tend to work the best.

To start, let’s talk about where to get subscriptions to calendars.  There are dozens of such sites out there but my personal preference is iCalShare.  It is a free service that has literally hundreds of calendars available from religious holidays to sports to national holidays of what seems to be of every nation.  It is a great resource and I recommend checking the site out to see if it has the calendar you are looking for to meet your needs.  iCalShare allows you to download calendars to your Mac then import them into iCal.  It is easy to do and you can easily delete the calendar if you do not need it any longer (great if you add your sports team calendar as you can delete it after the season is completed)

Once you have the URL of the calendar you want to subscribe open up iCal and click on Calendar>Subscribe to open up the dialog box to enter the URL.  I recommend copy-and-paste of the URL so you don’t make a mistake in the address.

iCal Calendar-Subscribe Menu

iCal Calendar-Subscribe Menu

You’ll note that at the bottom of this menu is a Find Subscriptions… option.  This will take you to the Apple iCal site where you can find additional calendars to subscribe to in iCal.  I like this site but prefer iCalShare a bit better.

Once you have put in the URL and it is verified, you can select the name of the menu (if you want to change it from the default), select the color of that calendar and chose when it is updated.  For most calendars you do not need to update them regularly as they are somewhat static (like sports events calendars or a country’s holidays).  You can also chose to have the subscription to to you iCloud account or to your Mac.  I prefer iCloud (or Google) as it allows me to sync those calendars on my iPhone and iPad without having to sync them through iTunes.

Setting up Subscribed Calendar Preferences in iCal

Setting up Subscribed Calendar Preferences in iCal

Once you have your preferences set, click OK and iCal will sync up the calendar.  It’s that simple!

If you want to change which calendars you view in iCal you can easily do that as well.  Just click on the Calendars button in iCal and you will see all of the calendars you have set up (accounts and subscribed calendars).  To stop one from appearing in iCal just remove the checkmark in the checkbox next to it.

Selecting Calendars to View in iCal

Selecting Calendars to View in iCal

The reason that I prefer using my iCloud account for calendar subscriptions is that it makes it much easier to get those calendars on my iPhone and iPad.  You can always sync up calendars with your Mac via iTunes but with the release of iOS 5, I’m syncing to iTunes far less.  To get the calendars to show up on your iPhone or iPad, go to the device under Settings>Mail,Contacts,Calendar.  Here you will see all of your accounts that you have set up.

Configured Accounts on my iPhone

Configured Accounts on my iPhone

Tap on iCloud and make sure that Calendars is turned on.  This will make sure that any calendar you have setup in iCloud will synchronize over-the-air to your iPhone.

iCloud Configuration on my iPhone

iCloud Configuration on my iPhone

Once you have done this, the syncing of the subscribed calendars will automatically start happening.  You can verify it by going into the Calendar app and you will see the events for those calendars in the app.

Subscribed Calendars in the Calendar app on my iPhone

Subscribed Calendars in the Calendar app on my iPhone

Like iCal on my Mac, I can chose which calendars I want to see on my iPhone or iPad.  Just tap the Calendars button and tap the ones you want to appear or not in the Calendar app.

The instructions on the iPhone are identical to those for an iPad so just use the instructions I outlined above on your iPad and it will work the same way.

Enjoy your subscribed calendars!