Synchronizing List Items with Outlook

SharePoint is a great product when it comes to integrating with other products from the Office Suite. In this blog post, I’ll explain and demonstrate how it is possible for users to synchronize various items from SharePoint with their Outlook client. There are 3 main types of items that can be synchronized with Outlook: Calendar events, Tasks, and Contacts. This blog post will be the first of a series of three. It will cover only the Calendar event synchronization to start with. Tasks, and contacts will be covered in upcoming articles. 

Calendar Events

Synchronizing events between SharePoint and Outlook can provide great value to your organization. In the following example, imagine you have a Team Site create for one branch of your organization, say the Marketing division. You may want to create a new Calendar for employees of the branch to write down when they will be off in vacations or to post upcoming events of interest.

Given the above Calendar, let’s assume I want to grab the Marketing Summit event happening on April 7th, and have it synchronized back to my own personal Outlook Calendar. To do so, I need to first click on the event to bring up the View form associated with it.

This gives me the full description of the event. Now, I need to go and click on the Custom Commands tab in the ribbon menu at the top of the page. This will give me the “Export Event” option, which is what we need to click to synchronize it with Outlook.

Clicking the button will trigger the download of a “.ics” file which really is an outlook calendar file.

When prompted, click Open, this will automatically launch the Outlook client, and open a new meeting invite.

Saving this item will automatically add it to your calendar. This is useful when you one to synchronize a one-off, but what if you have multiple events you want to synchronize? Don’t worry SharePoint got you covered. Simply go back to the calendar view page where you see all events (first screenshot above). This time, switch the ribbon over to the Calendar tab. See this big outlook button just beside the RSS feed option? Click on it to synchronize the entire Calendar with your personal Outlook.

This time Outlook should prompt you to authorize the external data source that is SharePoint. Click on Allow.

Next, Outlook will prompt you to authorize the connection to the SharePoint Calendar. When prompted, click on Yes.

Outlook will then open in the Calendar mode, and you should now see the two calendars side by side.

Let’s say I want, for some reason, to add the event Nik’s Vacation to my personal Calendar. All I have to do is to drag it from the calendar on the right, and drop it onto the one on the left. VoilĂ , the event is now synchronized. This method makes it way easier for users to synchronize multiple events at once. Take good note that the Outlook synchronization here is bi-directional. If I have an item in my personal calendar that I want to share with the rest of the team, I can do the just the same. For example, my personal calendar shows an event called Event from April 12th to the 13th, dragging it from my personal calendar on the left onto the team calendar on the right will automatically share the event with everybody else in the team, and the new event will now be reflected on the SharePoint site as well.

Microsoft Premier Field Engineer – SharePoint

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