How to Setup Google Calendar on Your iPhone

Even though my company officially uses Microsoft Exchange, including the calendar function, I use Google Calendar. I do this because a few people outside the company need access to my calendar. Google Calendar allows me to give access to anyone I want, provided they have a Google account.

A Week from My Personal Google Calendar

However, using Google Calendar with my new iPhone 4 was not as straight forward as I had hoped. When turned the calendar function on within my iPhone’s Gmail account, I only got one calendar. (I actually have five different Google calendars.) Some people suggested that I set up my Gmail account using the Exchange option, but that did not work.

After an hour or so of research and hacking, I finally figured it out. Here are the steps I took to get all my Google calendars to show up on my iPhone:

  1. Open Safari on your iPhone and go to the Google Calendar Sync Settings page. If you are not logged into Google it will prompt you to do so. This is what my page looks like. My Thomas Nelson appointments are synced to my main Gmail account. “GH” refers to my wife Gail’s calendars. (We share our calendars with one another.)

    Google Calendar Sync Settings

  2. You should see all of your calendars listed, including your shared calendars. Some calendars (e.g., “Weather” and “US Holidays”) are not available for syncing. Check the ones you want to appear on your iPhone. Scroll down and tap on the Save button.
  3. Open the Settings app on your iPhone. It should look similar to this:

    Main Settings Screen on the iPhone

    Tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendar. You should now see all of the email accounts you have set up. Mine looks like this:

    My Mail, Contacts, and Calendar ASccounts

    If you don’t already have your Gmail account set up, tap on Add Account, select Gmail and follow the directions.

  4. Tap on your Gmail account. It should look similar to this:

    Gmail Account Settings

    If the Calendars switch is on, turn it off. You should immediately get a prompt that looks similar to this:

    The “Delete from My iPhone” Prompt

    Click on the button that says “Delete from my iPhone.”

    Now turn the Calendar switch back on. (If the Calendars switch was off originally, then just turn it on.)

  5. Go to your iPhone Calendar app. Click on the Calendars button in the upper left-hand corner. You should see all of your Google Calendars, including shared calendars listed under the Gmail section. Mine looks like this:

    The Calendars to Show Page

    Tap on all the calendars you want to include on your calendar. A checkmark will appear to the right of each one you select. You can change this any time you want. When you are finished, tap on the Done button at the top of the screen.

    It may take a few minutes for your phone to download all of your calendar appointments from the Google servers. However, if all has gone well, all of your appointments should appear on your calendar with the same colors you use on the Google Calendar. Here is a screen shoot of my Google calendar on my iPhone 4:

    A Sample Screenshot from My iPhone 4

Note: If you decide to add a new calendar to your Google account and want to include it on your iPhone, you will need to add the calendar in Google, then repeat these steps again, making sure that you select your new calendar in Step 1.

I was surprised that Google didn’t provide these step-by-step directions. They are usually very good about documentation. I had to root around in several tech forums before I stumbled on the solution.

Question: Did this procedure work for you?
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  • SBG

    Thank you so much for this! I was actually trying to find a solution to NOT seeing all shared calendars and notifications and just getting mine and this works by in ticking calendars you don’t want on your iPhone! Perfect!

  • PanarchyInTheUK .

    Brilliant! Thanks so much. I had to close Calendar so it could refresh and allow the new calendars to be added. Makes a nice change for instructions to work, particularly several years after they were written. Thanks again, Lisa.

  • New iPhone User

    Thank you so much! I was almost upset that I got an iPhone. Glad there are great people like yourself that post quality information!

  • David Bliss

    Works for me. Now I have a work calendar on my iPhone. Thanks a million!!!!

  • RJ

    Thanks Michael:
    I spent 2 days trying to sync my Outlook to my Iphone4. I finally realized that it will not sync with anything less than an Iphone5. After a tremendous amount of research I came across your post and it worked perfectly. I now use the Google Calendar and it sync’s to and from my PC and I am thrilled. Thanks again.

  • HowardBrazee

    I found other links that say the same thing, I added the Gmail account OK, turned off everything and then turned on “Calendar”, but when I go to my iDevice calendar, I only see my iCloud calendars.

    Note: I have been trying to get my Google calendar on my wife’s iCal on her Mac the way it shows up on mine, and while the account is added, every time I try to make it active, it tells me a secure connection could not be established.

    • ConcernedCanadian

      What version of iOS are you running? On iOS 7, when you view the calendar app, at the bottom of the screen in the middle is “calendar” – tap that, and it should bring up a list of all the iCloud calendars as well as all the Google calendars.

      Another thought – do you have Google’s two-factor authentication set up? If so, you may need to create an individual password for the phone to access. I can’t remember the exact process to do so, but it should be fairly easy to find.

      • HowardBrazee

        I’m using the current versions of IOS & OSX. My phone and my pad and my Mac are showing my Google calendar. I haven’t checked my wife’s phone, but whenever I try to activate my Google calendar on her Mac it fails. Her account is what we use for iCloud, mine is what we use for Google calendar.

  • Andrew

    This didn’t entirely work for me because I don’t have a Gmail account, just a plain Google account. The iPhone settings app kept giving me an error message when it couldn’t log into IMAP.
    What worked for me was to set it up as a CalDav account (under Other in the Accounts section of the iPhone Settings app). I followed these instructions:
    http://www.redmondpie.com/how-to-use-caldav-on-iphone-to-sync-google-calendar-without-exchange/

    Thank you though for the tip about how to turn certain delegate calendars on and off.