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How to set your Google calendar to private

How to set your Google calendar to private


The most important thing to look for is that ‘Make available to public’ checkbox.

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Hand holding phone with Google “G” symbol against an illustrated background.
Illustration by Samar Haddad / The Verge

Recently, journalist, author of Platformer, and former Verge reporter Casey Newton tweeted something that had many readers both laughing and panicking: that entrepreneur David Sacks’ calendar at Twitter was not set to private and, as a result, was being carefully scrutinized by curious Twitter employees.

Laughing because — well, it is funny in an ironic sort of way. Panicking because the next thought of most people will be: is my calendar public?

If you’re one of those people, here is how to make sure your Google calendar is reasonably private (at least, as private as a Google calendar can be).

Note: while you can choose to share or not share events from your mobile Calendar app, most privacy controls for entire calendars are only available on the web app.

Make sure your calendar is not public

One of the first things you should do is to make sure that you haven’t checked the box that makes your entire calendar available to everyone.

Google calendar with pop-out showing “Settings and sharing” menu selection.
Choose which calendar you’re checking, and select “Settings and sharing.”
  • In your Google Calendar page, go to the My Calendars section in the left-hand column.
  • Hover over the calendar you want to check, and click on the three dots that appear to the right of the calendar name.
  • Click on Settings and sharing.
  • Click on Access permissions for events in the left column (you can also scroll down to it), and make sure Make available to public is not checked.

One note: if your account is being administered by your employer or by an organization, there is the possibility that you’ll have additional options here — for example, to make your calendar visible to your colleagues without it being completely public.

Calendar settings page
Make sure “Make available to public” is not checked. You can use the blue “Add people” box below that to give access to specific people.

Sharing your calendars

This is not to say you can’t share your calendar with friends, family, or colleagues. If you want to share it with somebody specific, you can do it in the same Settings and sharing section.

  • Click on Share with specific people in the left column (you can also scroll down to it) and click on the blue + Add people button.
  • Start typing in the Add email or name box; you’ll be offered a drop-down menu of your contacts to choose from, or you can type in a new email. You can add several email addresses if you want.
Settings for Google Calendar with pop-up box showing permissions to share with specific people.
You can choose how you want to share your calendar with specific people.
  • Click on the Permissions drop-down. You have several choices: to let the person or persons see all event details, to let them make changes to events, or let them make changes and further share events. You can also only let them see if you are free or busy at certain times (so all specifics about what you’re doing are hidden).
  • Click Send.

Each person you’ve shared with will get an email telling them that the calendar has been shared with them; the email will also contain a link so they can add the calendar to their own Calendar app.

If you change your mind about sharing with someone, just go back to the Share with specific people section; you’ll see everyone you’re sharing with listed there. Click the drop-down menu to change their permissions, or click the X to the right of the drop-down to unshare the calendar.