iphoneAs a business user you’ll probably have more than one calendar: 1 for work, a private one, perhaps one for a second job or for your university. To be able to check them everywhere, you might consider walking around with 2 mobile phones. But checking both phones for every new appointment is a little sad.

->> UPDATE: finally it’s here: iOS 4 is available June 21st. Plug your iPhone in your computer, update iTunes to v9.2, backup your iPhone and update the OS software (if you brick your iPhone see here). Now you’ll have an iPhone that natively supports multiple Exchange accounts (so not only calendars, but also mail, contacts etc)!!! If for whatever reason you don’t want to update to iOS4, please read further.

[Here you can find a Dutch version of this article.]
The good news is that more and more smartphones support managing multiple calendars. Problem solved, you’d say. Unfortunately not if you want to manage two Exchange calendars. Browsing through countless fora, support sites, blogs etcetera dedicated to this problem, I have the impression I’m not alone here…

At the moment there is only one platform that has native support for multiple Exchange accounts: Palm OS (with the Palm Pre). Despite the fact that on the internet information can be found that Android version 2.0 and up supports multiple Exchange accounts, this is still not the case.
The reaseon why manufactures of smartphones do not provide this feature, is unknown to me. Anyone who knows, please let me know.

iPhone: with or without jailbreak?

One of the best sold smartphones in the world is the iPhone. Wouldn’t it be nice to have two Exchange accounts on your iPhone? If you don’t mind jailbreaking your phone or if it’s alrealy jailbroken, it’s a breeze. With the app AddExchange you can add a second Active Exchange account. With MultiExchange even more than two! Does some programming not scare you, than you can add as much accounts as you like, with a simple modification of a system file within your iPhone. It seems that the iPhone in fact already supports multiple accounts, but that Apple refuses to offer this feature…

However, there might be reasons for not jailbreaking your iPhone. For instance because your employer owns the phone, or you’re just unsure if you’ll run into trouble when updating the firmware. So, is adding a second Exchange account possible without a jailbreak? The answer is: yes, but with an indirect route.

Indirect route through Google Calendar

calendarsThe indirect route is the use of Google Calendar. With the iPhone it is possible to synchronise realtime (push) a second calendar using the CalDAV protocol. Google Calendar supports this protocol. Simply put it works like this:

  1. set up the iPhone for the first Exchange account
  2. create an account for Google Calendar
  3. install a sync tool on the computer managing your second Exchange account
  4. set up this sync tool to synchronise the calendar of your second Exchange account with Google Calendar
  5. set up your Google Calendar account through CalDAV on your iPhone

See the result on the right side: all your appointments in just one calendar, and each colour indicates which calendar the item originates from! From now on you can create new appointments in the calendar of your choice. If you walk to your laptop and open Outlook a few minutes later, you’ll see the new appointments. The other way around it is also possible to create an appointment in one of your Outlook calendars that (after synchronisation) pops up on your iPhone.

Get it done in 5 easy steps

In this example I have two Exchange calendars. The one I use most is my “corporate calendar”. The other one is an Exchange calendar I use for private purposes: my “private calendar”. I want to use Google Calendar to get my private calendar on my iPhone.

Step 1 is setting up the iPhone for the most used Exchange account, my corporate calendar. On the internet you’ll find several how to’s that’ll help you to do the job. You need the credentials of the Exchange server of your company and the ones of your own account.

Step 2 is creating an account for Google Calendar. Go to www.google.com/calendar and click on Create an account. Just follow the steps Google leads you through.

Step 3 is installing a sync tool on your computer. Which one you use depends on what you need and on what Outlook version you use. Do you have Outlook 2003 or 2007, then you can use the free tool Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook. Check this for information about system requirements. Some people report server problems with this tool. Another tool you can use is Google Calendar Sync. If you use Outlook 2010 beta or if you’re running Windows 7 64 bit, then you can use tools like gSyncit or OggSync. Both are free to use, but with limitations. The full version of gSyncit is feature rich and is the cheapest of both tools ($15). Do you want to use another tool, be sure that it supports two way synchronisation.

gSyncit

Step 4 is setting up the tool. In this example I use gSyncit. Install gSyncit on your computer and start up the program. Fill in the credentials of your Google Calendar account and click on Verify Account. Are the credentials correct, select Calendar and choose the Google calendar that you want to synchronise. Next go to Outlook Calendar and choose the private calendar (select the folder with the name Calendar). Finally give a fitting description. Select the tab Sync Options and select Outlook as primary calendar and you’re done. If you like you can select the time between every synchronisation (e.g. every 5 minutes) and you can filter which calendar items should be included.

Step 5 is creating a CalDAV account on your iPhone for adding Google Calendar. For instance read here how it’s done.

Change colours

Google CalendarWhen you add an appointment for today in both your Exchange accounts (in Outlook), then (after the sync tool did its job) you’ll see the two appointments nicely together in the iPhone calendar. If you watch closely, you’ll see that the appointment from the private calendar (Google Calendar) is light red and the appointment from the corporate calendar (Exchange) is red. These colours are too close together and that’s not very convenient. However, that’s easy to solve. Go to www.google.com/calendar and log in. Next go to My Calendars on the left side of the screen. Click the arrow on the right side of the Gmail address. Now a colour palette appears. Pick a colour that gives a good contrast against the red calendar items on the iPhone. You will see the colour of the Google calendar items on your iPhone change almost immediately!

Do you use an Apple computer, read here how you can change the colour of the Exchange calendar items in your iPhone.

When you want to add a new appointment to the iPhone, start up the calendar. In the upper side you’ll read “All calendars”. Add an appointment and click on Calendar (just beneath Alert). Choose to which calendar the new item should be added. If you dislike that method, you can also first select the appropriate calendar. To do this, first click on Calendar (in the top left corner).

2 calendar types

Now choose one of the calendars and add a new appointment.

That’s what I want in Outlook too!

Are you on a roll here and desperate to get a beautiful overview of both your calendars? It’s finally possible with Outlook 2010. It’s still in beta phase and you can download it for free. The beta is valid until 1 October 2010. Check the FAQ list here.. Please be sure to install the 32 bit version, because the sync tools do not work with the 64 bit version.
It is possible to run Office 2010 and your current Office version side by side. Unfortunately Outlook 2010 is the exception: it will overwrite your current Outlook installation.

Outlook 2010 overlay

Brief instruction (on your own risk of course): backup any Outlook file that is important to you (e.g. .pst files). Start up the Office 2010 installation disk. Do not choose Upgrade, but choose Customize. Uncheck as much items you can, except for Outlook of course. Change the default path in something like “…\Microsoft Office 2010” and choose Install. After the installation is finished, start up Outlook 2010. It will start filling automatically with the mail and calendar items, contacts and tasks you had in your previous Outlook version. Now click in the left top corner on the tab File. Go to Info and click on Add account. Fill in the credentials of the second account. After this account is filled with the calendar items etcetera, click on the tab Home in the left top corner and after click on Calendar on the left bottom corner. Go to My Calendars and select the calendars you want to see side-by-side. Go to the calendar on the right and click on the arrow on the left top corner (view in overlay mode) and surprise! Just like your iPhone!

Not ready for Outlook 2010 yet? There is another possibility by running two instances of Outlook side by side: ExtraOutlook. In this case you’ll see your corporate Outlook account in one window and your private account in another.

Do you have remarks, improvements or a totally different solution to the problem, please share this below!