How-To Geek

How To Sync Your Shared Google Calendars with Your iPhone


Smartphones are essential to our daily lives. They help us stay connected and keep us organized. But when it comes to calendar syncing and Gmail there are limitations. Here’s how you can sync your shared calendars and contacts from Gmail.

If you use Gmail you probably know about the ability to create and share calendars with others. They help keep groups organized and even let you subscribe to public events. When it comes to getting that information on your smartphone there are some trade offs if you are on a non-Android phone.

Android phones will sync your email, contacts, and all of your calendars by just singing into your Gmail account. If you have an iPhone however, you will miss out on contact syncing if you set up your account as a Gmail account.

There is another option. You can set up your Gmail account as an Exchange account and be able to sync your email, contacts, and calendar, but by default it will only sync your primary calendar.

To add additional calendars you need to open your Safari browser on your iPhone and go to

Sign in with your Google account and then select which phone you want to change your sync settings on.

Select which calendars you would like sync with your phone.

Open your calendar app and open calendars in the top left corner. You should now see multiple calendars listed under your account instead of just the primary one you had before.

If you don’t, hit the refresh button in the bottom left corner or just give it 5-10 minutes to pull in your new calendars. If the calendars still do not show up, go to your settings app and remove your Gmail account and then add it again.

Once you see your shared calendars, check the ones you want to view by default in the calendar app and you are all set.

If you have problems with the web page not forwarding properly from your mobile browser you can also go to from your computer’s browser to turn on and off calenders for your iPhone. This will bypass the device selection but may work for non-iOS devices connected to Gmail via Exchange.

Justin Garrison is a Linux and HTPC enthusiast who loves to try new projects. He isn't scared of bricking a cell phone in the name of freedom.

  • Published 11/14/11

Comments (8)

  1. Richard

    Many years ago when I tried using Exchange for everything, any time I deleted an email it put it into the “Archive” folder which drove me nuts. Does it still do that?

    At present I use the “GMail” option for calendar and mail and then Exchange for contacts. This gives me multiple calendars, all my contacts and emails that can be properly deleted rather than archived. I can also sync my contacts less frequently than the other two which (I hope) improves the battery.

    Does anyone know whether my way is better? Has the archiving issue been resolved? Am I missing out on cool functionality by not going all in with Exchange?

  2. mike

    @Richard I do the same, seems to work well for my battery.

  3. Jodi

    Richard: I tried going the Gmail route but I wanted to sync my calendars and contacts. I didn’t like how it handled contacts so ultimately, I went with iCloud and it’s working great to keep my calendars and contacts in sync with Outlook 2010 on 2 PCs and the native apps on my iPhone.

    I’m using Gmail IMAP to sync e-mail in Outlook 2010 on 2 PCs, but I use POP3 on my phone. Mostly because I treat it more as a quick-view the e-mails and do my important e-mailing on my PC with Outlook.

    Also, because I don’t like how Gmail handles trash/recycle/archive (whatever you want to call it). I’ve got it set up in Outlook so that if I hit delete, it goes to a folder I’ve named “Recycle” (that acts like Outlook’s Deleted Items always had w/o IMAP … I empty it when I want). If I hit Shift+Delete, it goes to Gmail’s “Trash” which removes it permanently after 30 days.

  4. Mike


    Yep, that’s the way it still works. Frustrating. You can either get true “push” email via Exchange (but no true delete functionality), or true delete via the iPhone gmail setup (but not true push). I have it set up like you do: Exchange to sync my gmail calendars, “gmail” option for email. Works, but less than ideal solution.

  5. Don Johnson

    Currently I use GooSync with an older Windows Mobile phone and Ecco on my desktop. According to Goosync, they have an app that will sync Google calendars and such to various versions of iPhone (which I am considering getting…)

    Here is the link:

  6. mceolsen

    Or – just use iCloud, make your sign-in your gmail account, and you’re all set. Done and done.

  7. CAC

    Is there a way to sync google calendars to Windows Phone 7.5 (mango?)

  8. PM


    But I want to keep a central definition of all my contacts so I can add from my phone and see them on gmail on my desktop. How does iCloud help me with that?

    To be honest the whole icloud piece is a waste as far as I am concerned.

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