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Send your calendar availability via email

Context

Although we all use sophisticated calendaring systems like Exchange or Google Calendar, it is surprising how often it comes in handy to be able to just copy and paste a list of your available times into an email message (and how often that is requested by others arranging meetings).

The below answer describes a setup that allows you to do this on a Mac with an Exchange account. It is a little kludgy, but works. I am sure there are better solutions, and if you know of one, please leave a comment or, if you're a member of the MIT community, request authoring permissions and update this article. The more the merrier!

Solution

Overview

  1. If you are not already using Apple's Calendar application, set it up so it can access your calendar; you do not need to use it as your primary calendar application, but Calendar includes the ability for the utility to extract meeting times
  2. If you are not already using Apple's Mail application, set it up so it can send email; you do not need to use it as your primary email application, but the Mail application can be accessed via the mac OS Share menu which is what the utility uses to share free/busy times
  3. Download and install the Calex utility from the Apple App Store https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/calex-the-calendar-exporter/id616075326?mt=12
  4. Run the Calex utility when you want to export a list of available times
    1. Select your MIT Exchange calendar in the list of calendars
    2. Set your time range as desired
    3. Make sure to check the include availability as text box
    4. Click the Send calendar export and select Mail as your export destination

A new mail message will open. It should include some boilerplate text, a list of your available times in the range you specified, and an iCal attachment. You can edit the text as needed, and either keep or delete the iCal attachment. (It allows someone to import your available times into their calendar, but I have found that most people are more confused than helped by it.)

Select calendar, hours, and options Edit and send email

Additional information

  • Instructions for setting up Apple Calendar and Apple Mail with your MIT Exchange account can be found at Apple Mail and iCal 4.x for Mac OS X 10.6 - Configure for MIT Exchange
  • If you do not use Apple Calendar and Apple Mail as your main calendar and email clients, you may want to:
    • Disable calendar notifications from Apple Calendar via Calendar > Preferences > Alerts; select your MIT Exchange account and set everything to None
    • Disable email notifications from Apple Mail in Mail > Preferences > General
  • Some other tricks and informational notes
    • If you use Apple Mail for some but not all of your email accounts, disabling notifications is not great as it is a global option; but you can set up any one of your accounts to send through the MIT SMTP server, outgoing.mit.edu, and then disable your MIT Exchange email account in Apple Mail entirely, since you only need to be able to send from your MIT address for this purpose
    • If you don't want the hassle of setting up your MIT calendar and email in Apple Calendar and Apple Mail, you can also send the Calex export to another application, such as Apple's Notes, but you will then need to copy from there into an email message, so it's an extra step
    • Unfortunately Exchange does not work with Apple's Share menu, otherwise you could send the exported availability times directly to Exchange

See also

Community

Documentation and information provided by the MIT Community


Last Modified:

April 08, 2019

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