ICalendar for PC Windows Archives

ICalendar for PC Windows Archives

iCalendar for PC Windows Archives

iCalendar for PC Windows Archives

The iCalendar Standard

Introduction

iCalendar is a standard method of transferring calendar information between computer systems. The standard allows products from many vendors to transfer calendar information between each other.  iCalendar files typically have the file extension ".ical" ".ics" ".ifb"  or ".icalendar" with a MIME type of "text/calendar".

The iCalendar open standard should not be confused with iCal, the former name for the commercial product "Calendar" developed by Apple Computer.

History

iCalendar was first defined as a standard as RFC 2445 in 1998 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). This document was authored by Frank Dawson of Lotus Notes Corporation (now owned by IBM) and Derik Stenerson of Microsoft Corporation. The pairing of these two individuals from competing software companies highlighted the need at that time for companies to work together to provide interoperability standards between calendar products.  This interoperability continues to the present day extending support to new technologies such as web site calendar services, smart phones and tablets.

The iCalendar standard was refined in 2009 as RFC 5545 and edited by Bernard Desruisseaux of Oracle Corporation. This resolved some ambiguities from the original standard as well as deprecated a few features that were no longer needed. RFC 5545 is now considered the iCalendar standard and supersedes the previous RFC. RFC 7986 was published in 2016 and adds to the original iCalendar RFC by defining new properties to support conferencing systems and to the main VCALENDAR object including a calendar name, description and refresh interval.

Today, iCalendar is used to import and synchronize events on various platforms, including smart phones, computer and web applications.  Web applications include Microsoft Office 365, Apple Calendar, Google Calendar, and Yahoo Calendar.

iCalendar File Format

Here is a sample iCalendar file containing a single event.

BEGIN:VCALENDAR VERSION:2.0 PRODID:-//ZContent.net//Zap Calendar 1.0//EN CALSCALE:GREGORIAN METHOD:PUBLISH BEGIN:VEVENT SUMMARY:Abraham Lincoln UID:c7614cff-3549-4a00-9152-d25cc1fe077d SEQUENCE:0 STATUS:CONFIRMED TRANSP:TRANSPARENT RRULE:FREQ=YEARLY;INTERVAL=1;BYMONTH=2;BYMONTHDAY=12 DTSTART:20080212 DTEND:20080213 DTSTAMP:20150421T141403 CATEGORIES:U.S. Presidents,Civil War People LOCATION:Hodgenville\, Kentucky GEO:37.5739497;-85.7399606 DESCRIPTION:Born February 12\, 1809\nSixteenth President (1861-1865)\n\n\n \nhttp://AmericanHistoryCalendar.com URL:http://americanhistorycalendar.com/peoplecalendar/1,328-abraham-lincol n END:VEVENT END:VCALENDAR

An iCalendar file consists of sections starting with "BEGIN:" and ending with "END:".  The "VCALENDAR" is the global section that holds all other sections.  Other sections include "VEVENT" for events, "VTODO" for to-do items, "VJOURNAL" for journal entries, and "VTIMEZONE" for time zone information.  Multiple sections of the same type can be repeated.  For example, multiple "VEVENT" sections can occur in an iCalendar file to describe multiple events.

CalDAV: Remote Event Management

The WebDAV standard enables editing web sites remotely.  This standard has been extended to create the CalDAV standard.  Similar to the WebDAV standard, CalDAV enables the management of events from a remote location.  Calendar clients such as Mozilla's Sunbird and Apple's Calendar applications allow editing of events that reside on a remote server.  

Extending the iCalendar Standard

Although the iCalendar specification is very detailed and covers many aspects of calendaring and scheduling, users have found some features lacking in the standard.  Fortunately, the standard is extensible and provides a method of adding additional information to an iCalendar data stream.  Since these features are not part of the standard, support for them will vary from vendor to vendor. A few of these extensions are listed here.

HTML In Event Descriptions

The original iCalendar standard allowed only plain text as part of an event description.  HTML markup, such as font attributes (bold, underline) and layout (div, table) was not allowed in the text description field.  First seen in Microsoft Outlook, the X-ALT-DESC parameter provides a method to add HTML to an event description.  "X-" fields are allowed for non-standard, experimental parameters. This field has become the method of choice when including HTML in a description.  When using HTML, both fields must be included so that iCalendar readers that do not support the X-ALT-DESC field can still read the text version.

Detailed Location/Venue Information

The original iCalendar standard provided a single element for a location description.  This proved inadequate for some who wanted to include additional information about the location, including address, contact information and a description of the location.  A draft proposal entitled, "Internet Calendaring and Scheduling Venue Component Specification" was published in 2007 by Charles Norris of Eventful.com and Jeff McCullough of the University of California, Berkley, to address these issues.  Although it was never fully adopted as an RFC, this document provides a standard method for transferring venue information where the iCalendar standard is lacking.

 

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Add iCalendar files into Outlook

iCalendar (or iCal) files are data files that contain details of events including the date, time and location. iCal files can either be opened in Outlook as a new Outlook Calendar (separate from your existing calendars) or the iCal file can be saved and imported into your existing Outlook Calendar.

Open an iCal file in Microsoft Outlook

Opening an iCal file in Microsoft Outlook will create a new calendar in your Outlook Calendars that contains the events from the iCal file. This calendar will be completely separate from your other Outlook calendars and will exist in Outlook until you choose to remove it.

To open an iCal file in Outlook:

  1. Click on an iCal link on a website
  2. When prompted, click Open. The iCalendar will appear in your Outlook Calendar under 'Other Calendars'.

Import an iCal file into your Outlook Calendar

If you would like to add information from an iCal file into your Outlook Calendar:

  1. Click on an iCal link on a website
  2. When prompted, click Save and save the file to your computer
  3. Open Microsoft Outlook and go to File > Open > Import
  4. When prompted select Import an iCalendar (.ics) or vCalendar file (.vcs) and click Next
  5. When prompted, browse for the iCal file that you saved to your computer and click OK (the file will have the file extension of .ics e.g. basics.ics).
  6. When prompted, click Import
  7. The dates from the iCal file will now be imported into your existing Outlook Calendar

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iCalendar for PC Windows Archives

Mac troubleshooting FAQ: iCal and Mail

Although Apple has avoided calling them iPIM, Address Book, iCal, and Mail form the core of personal information management on the Mac. With so many Mac users depending on those three apps to keep their lives in order, it's not surprising that, when those users have problems have problems with those apps, they call Mac 911. Here are the questions I get most often and my answers to them.

When I open Address Book, I see lots of duplicate contacts; some of the information in the duplicated contacts doesn’t match.

You can combine those dupes. Open Address Book and choose Card -> Look For Duplicates. Address Book will do exactly that and eventually produce a sheet that details the number of duplicate cards and duplicated entries. Click Merge, and the information from cards deemed duplicates will be merged into a single card. You’ll also see an option allowing you to merge cards that have the same name but contain different information. Unless you know an awful lot of John Smiths and Mary Joneses, go right ahead and enable that option. Those contacts will also be merged.

I need to transfer my contacts to another Mac and to my Windows PC at work.

Transferring contacts to another Mac is easy: In Address Book, choose File -> Export -> Address Book Archive. Copy the resulting archive to the other Mac, launch Address Book on that Mac, and choose File -> Import. Find the archive and click Open.

Transferring contacts to a Windows PC is trickier: You must export your contacts in vCard format. But if you choose File -> Export -> Export vCard in Address Book, all of your contacts will be exported to a single vCard, which many Windows apps can’t read; you need to export each one to an individual vCard.

To do that, create a folder on the desktop for your exported contacts, select those contacts in Address Book, and, while holding down the Option key, drag the contacts to the folder you created. They will export as individual files, ready to be transferred to your PC.

How can I sync iCal with my Google calendars?

Launch iCal, choose iCal -> Preferences, and click the Accounts tab in the resulting window. Click the plus-sign (+) button at the bottom of the window. In the Add An Account sheet, choose Google from the Account Type pop-up menu, enter your Gmail address and password in the appropriate fields, and click the Create button. iCal verifies the account and adds it to iCal. In iCal’s list of calendars, you’ll see a new calendar group called yourgmailname@gmail.com containing one calendar. To add other calendars associated with your Gmail account, click the Delegation tab in the Accounts window and enable the calendars you’d like to view and edit in iCal.

How do I create iCal events so they appear at the correct local time when I travel?

Open iCal’s preferences, select the Advanced tab, and enable Turn On Time Zone Support. The time zone for your current location will appear in the top right corner of the iCal window.

Now create an event for when you’ll be traveling. Let’s say you live in Maine and need to schedule a 10 a.m. meeting for when you’re in California. Create the event at home in Maine, enter 10 a.m. as the start time, and, from the event’s Time Zone pop-up menu, choose Pacific Time. (If you don’t see Pacific Time, choose Other and select it on the map.) On your calendar—which now displays Eastern Time—the event will appear at 1 p.m. (or 10 a.m. Pacific Time).

When you reach California, iCal should display Pacific Time. (If it doesn’t, choose it from the pop-up menu at the top of the window.) The event should appear at 10 a.m., where it belongs. To create an event that doesn’t shift based on time zone—it occurs at 10 a.m. regardless of where your Mac thinks it is—choose Floating from the event’s Time Zone pop-up menu.

When I create a new message in Mail and enter the first few letters of the addressee, I see a list of old contacts I no longer use.

First, choose Window -> Previous Recipients and, in the Previous Recipients window, select all the entries and click Remove From List. You can purge this list more thoroughly by quitting Mail, navigating to youruserfolder/Library/Application Support/AddressBook, and tossing out the MailRecents-v4.abcdmr file. When you relaunch Mail, the Previous Recipients window should be clear; you should get fewer autocompleted entries when you address your next e-mail message.

As for old contacts that appear because they’re in your Address Book, the only way to remove them is to launch Address Book and weed them out, one by one.

Mail asks for my account password every time I check for new messages. I’ve told it to remember my passwords, but it won’t.

This constant password nagging hints that there’s a problem with the keychain where your e-mail password is stored. (If you were randomly asked to enter a password—sometimes yes, sometimes no—then I’d cock a stern eyebrow at your ISP instead.)

Open Keychain Access and choose Keychain First Aid from the Keychain Access menu. In the resulting window enter your administrator’s password, enable the Verify option, and click Start. With luck, some red entries will appear in the window, indicating that there’s a problem with your keychain. Now enable the Repair option and click Start. With the same measure of luck, those keychain problems will be repaired and Mail will no longer harangue you for a password.

If it continues to, you could try deleting and recreating the account. Before you do that, select the account in Mail’s Mailboxes list, hold down the Control key, and click on the account’s Inbox. Choose Archive Mailbox from the menu that appears and choose a place to save your archive when prompted. Doing this ensures that the messages for the account aren’t completely vaporized when you delete the account. Ditto for the account’s Sent messages if you like to keep such things.

Now choose Mail > Preferences > Accounts, select the troublesome account in the Accounts list, and click the minus-sign (–) button to delete the account. Click the plus-sign (+) button and recreate the account.

My junk filter in Mail isn’t working; I keep getting spam, even when I mark a message as junk.

If you’ve studiously taught Mail what is and isn’t junk but it’s not learning, reset Mail’s junk-mail settings by opening Mail’s Preferences, clicking the Junk Mail tab, and then clicking the Reset button.

To begin anew, in this same Junk Mail window select the Enable Junk Mail Filtering option. As you’re just starting out, enable the Mark As Junk Mail But Leave It In My Inbox option. With this option on, messages that Mail believes are junk will be marked in brown. By leaving them in your inbox, you can first see if the junk mail filter is working and then identify mail marked as junk.

Scan your inbox and verify that what Mail is calling junk really is junk. If it isn’t, highlight the good messages and click the Not Junk button in Mail’s toolbar. Look for messages that are junk but haven’t been marked as such; if you find one, highlight it and click the Junk button in Mail’s toolbar. Over time, Mail will “learn” to better pinpoint junk messages. Once it’s learned to identify junk mail to your satisfaction, go back to the Junk Mail preferences tab and enable the Move It To The Junk Mailbox option. Mail will then automatically move mail it has identified as junk to a Junk folder (under On My Mac in the Mailboxes pane).

If you have a severe junk-mail problem that Mail can’t deal with, get C-Command Software’s $30 SpamSieve ()—the most effective spam-filtering tool I’ve ever used.

Bonus tip: You can transfer Mail’s junk-mail filter to another Mac, so you don’t have to retrain Mail on a new Mac. Locate LSMMap2 in youruserfolder/Library/Mail, and transfer it to the same location on the other Mac (replacing that Mac’s copy). Mail’s filtering on that other Mac will then be just as effective as it is on the first.

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  • Pros

    • Microsoft Exchange 2007 support
    • Slight performance boost

    Cons

    • Spotty data detection
    • Time Machine function is slow, doesn’t allow searching
  • Pros

    • Data detectors in Mail make it easy to create calendar events from text in e-mail messages
    • Integrates with Address Book and Mail
    • Easy to use
    • Powerful
    • Free

    Cons

    • To-do list feature is basic: does not let you assign to-dos to projects or track progress of tasks
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