My work recently moved to a new online shift scheduling and calendar system. The work calendar can generate a URL linking to an .ics file — an iCalendar feed — making it possible to subscribe to my work schedule with calendar services such as Microsoft Outlook, Apple Calendar, and Google. Subscribed with Google Calendar, new work shifts appear in the calendar on all my devices soon after they are published.
This article outlines how to subscribe to an iCalendar feed in Google Calendar, and solve issues that can prevent Google from updating when changes are published to the original calendar.
What is an iCalendar feed?
iCalendar is a standarized system used by email and calendar programs to share calendar and appointment information. According to iCalendar.org, a site devoted to promoting the iCalendar standard, iCalendar is “an open standard for exchanging calendar and scheduling information between users and computers.”
iCalendar should not be confused with Apple iCal, the former name of what is now called Apple Calendar. iCalendar is not an app or service, but rather a standard that apps and services can use to share calendars and appointments. Calendar information is stored in a plain text file given an .ics extension. Services often make .ics files accessible via a web URL. I will be subscribing to an iCalendar feed via URL.
Step 1. Find an iCal link.
First off, we need an .ics calendar to subscribe to. There are a lot of them out there.
I found a site called OfficeHolidays.com which has subscribable calendars for the public holidays of several countries. I am going to subscribe to a calendar with U.S. public holidays, here. In Canada, our economy is closely integrated with the States, but we have some different holidays. It is often useful to keep in mind when a colleague in the U.S. will be out of the office.
Here is the URL OfficeHolidays.com provides to subscribe to their USA holidays calendar: