One of the big advantages of using Google Calendar is that you see many different calendars on the same interface, and you can choose which one you want to see at any time.

For example, your Google calendar might include a personal calendar, a work calendar, family members’ calendars, calendars that show local or international holidays, and a calendar that adds your favorite sports team’s calendar. You view as many calendars at once as you want or turn them off temporarily if your calendar is too crowded or you need to focus on a particular time.

If you’re new to Google Calendar, this is a quick guide to adding and using multiple calendars. Be aware that most of the tweaks listed here are only available through the web interface; anything you can do through the mobile app will be noted.

Choose the calendars to display

When you log into Google Calendar for the first time, you are already provided with several calendars, which you can see on the left side of the page, classified into two categories. Under ‘My Calendars’, you’ll find your personal calendar, called ‘Birthdays’, which pulls events from people listed in your Google Contacts, Reminders and Tasks. Under “Other calendars” you will start with a holiday calendar for your country.

Note that each calendar is assigned a color (indicated by the checkbox to the left of each calendar’s label). If you hover over the label, you’ll see a menu icon (three dots) on the right; click on it and you can change the color of this calendar.

Don’t want to see entries from a specific calendar? Uncheck the box and check it to see it again. You can see as many or as few calendars at a time as you want.

On the mobile app, you can access your different calendars by tapping on the menu bar with three parallel lines in the upper left corner. The drop-down menu will first show your layout choices (day, week, month, etc.), then it will show calendars with colored checkboxes; uncheck any you don’t want to see.

If you want to change the color of a checkbox on your mobile device, it’s a bit more complicated.

  • Tap the menu bar in the top left corner
  • Scroll down to “Settings” (there is a gear icon)
  • Tap the calendar you want to edit
  • You will see the color you are currently using. Press it.
  • Select your new color from the drop-down list

Creating a new calendar

Suppose you’re trying to save money by not eating out, and you’ve decided one way to do that is to plan your meals for the week. You can create a separate calendar called “Meals” where you specify what you have planned for dinner each day.

Here’s how to create a new calendar:

  • Next to “Other calendars” on the left, select the plus sign
  • Click on “Create a new calendar”
  • Type the name of your new calendar and add a description (if desired). Make sure the time zone is correct.
  • Click on “Create a calendar”

Your new calendar will now be active and you will find it in the “My calendars” category. If you want to change the assigned color, hover your cursor over the calendar name, click the three-dot Options menu, and choose a color.

Don’t need this calendar anymore? You have several options:

  • If you just want to temporarily not see it on the calendar, uncheck its box
  • If you want to remove it from your list, use the Options menu to select “Hide from List”. (If you want it again, click the gear icon in the upper right corner, select “Settings” and scroll down until you see “Settings for my calendars” on the left. All the calendars you have hidden will have a symbol with a crossed out eye next to it. Simply click on the eye to reveal the calendar.)
  • If you want to remove it completely, go to the Settings page and search for “My Calendars Settings”. Click on the name of the calendar, select “Delete Calendar”, then find “Delete” in the center of the page.

Adding additional Google calendars

You can also add calendars from other sources using your browser. (You can’t do this on a mobile app.) You can add other people’s Google calendars (assuming they give you permission), add other calendars available through Google, and add calendars using the iCal format.

First, let’s say you want to add a friend’s Google calendar.

  • Select the plus sign next to “Other calendars” and choose “Subscribe to calendar”
  • At “Add a calendar”, enter your friend’s Gmail address
  • Chances are you’ll get a pop-up message saying you don’t have access to this calendar. In this case, use the form to request access from your friend.
  • Your friend will receive a request email with a link, which will allow you to either just view the events, make changes to them, or manage them. When they approve the sharing, you’ll receive an email letting you know you now have access to the calendar, along with a link that will add the calendar to yours.
  • Again, this only works if your friend also has a Google Calendar. Otherwise, you will need to import the calendar via iCalendar format (see below).

If you want to view the public calendars available on Google:

  • Select the plus sign and choose “Browse Calendars of Interest” or go to the Settings page and choose “Browse Calendars of Interest” from the left menu.
  • You’ll find a fairly limited list of calendars you can add: religious and regional holidays, sports, and moon phases.

You can also add the birthdays of people in your contact list. Look under “My Calendars” on the left side of your Google Calendar for a calendar called Birthdays. If you don’t see it:

  • Go to the Settings page
  • Under “My Calendar Settings” on the left side, you’ll see an eye icon with a line through it. Click on it.
  • Now you will see the ‘Birthdays’ calendar under ‘My Calendars’ in your Google Calendar

Using iCalendar

You are not limited to calendars provided by Google or used by someone with a Google calendar. You can add a variety of interesting calendars through iCalendar (often called iCal or .ics), a long-standing format for storing calendar information. The easiest way to find iCal calendars is to get them from sites like and iCalShare. If you use the IFTTT app, you can access a number of calendar add-ons there.

You can also import a non-Google calendar from an individual – as long as they’ve exported their calendar in a usable format like CSV or iCal.

  • Click the gear icon to access settings
  • Select “Import and Export” from the left menu
  • In the central “Import” category, select the file you want to import. If you manage multiple Google calendars, you can select which calendar you want to import the information into.

Note that this won’t sync the two calendars – it will only import existing data from one calendar to another – so it’s only useful for a one-time import (for example, if you’re importing static information, such as your holidays program). Synchronizing your Google calendar with others, like Apple Calendar or Outlook, is a whole other topic.

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