Blog Post

How to Sync Multiple Calendars to the iPad With Google Sync

Yes, we’ve covered Apple’s iPad (s aapl) quite a bit this week. While there are other happenings in the mobile tech world, this was a big one — besides, I haven’t blogged much about it just yet. Oh, I will — I’ve been spending time with the device in bits and pieces over this holiday weekend — but I wanted to let the dust settle in terms of coverage. However, there’s one tidbit I wanted to share now, simply because it solves a problem for Google Calendar (s goog) users that want to sync events with their iPad using Google Sync.

The problem is — using a Microsoft Exchange (s msft) setup for Google accounts currently works for one single calendar on the iPad. I can’t have that, so I scoured the web for a workaround, found one in a MacRumors forum, and used it successfully. Here’s the method to use until Google addresses the issue for Apple’s iPad — you’ll need to use the Safari browser, although this might work with user agent string spoofing on other browsers too:

  • Open Safari and then view its Preferences pane.
  • In Preferences, go to the Advanced tab and check “Show Develop menu in menu bar.” If you already have this checked, you can skip this step. Close the Preferences.
  • In the Safari menu bar, you should now see a Develop menu option. Select it, choose the User Agent option and pick “Mobile Safari 3.1.3 — iPhone” This tells web sites that you’re using the iPhone’s browser. You need to do this to open up the mobile site for the Google Sync service.
  • In Safari, browse to http://m.google.com/sync and sign in if needed. Normally you’d do this on your mobile device, but Google isn’t yet recognizing the iPad properly. If you try to configure Google Sync from the iPad, it will say “Sorry, Google Sync is not supported on this device.”
  • Now go to the Develop menu in Safari and choose to Disable JavaScript as shown by the check mark below.
  • Still in Safari, choose to manage your iPad. In my list, it’s the most recent device, but if you use Google Sync across multiple devices, it could appear anywhere in the list.
  • In the next window, you’ll see that Google says you can sync up to one calendar to your device. Ignore that message because the workaround now allows multiple calendar selections. For instance, I chose three primary calendars and three shared calendars, offering both work and family events in one single view.
    Once you’ve made your selections, click the Save button. That should do it, so don’t forget to undo the User Agent change and re-enable JavaScript in Safari. On the iPad, here’s what the result looks like less than a minute after I ran through these steps:

[digg=http://digg.com/apple/How_To_Sync_Multiple_Calendars_to_the_iPad_With_Google_Sync]I’m sure Google will address the one calendar limitation with Google Sync, but until they do, you can easily work around the issue in just a few minutes. Hopefully that helps — and now I’m off for some more iPad playtime so I can share all my thoughts soon.

Related iPad Content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d)

89 Responses to “How to Sync Multiple Calendars to the iPad With Google Sync”

  1. Roland

    Thank you very much! Took me some time to get this to work, though.

    Since I’m in The Netherlands I had to add ?hl=en so the Google Sync url would read http://m.google.com/sync?hl=en. Otherwise the message (in Dutch) would be “device not supported”. I love my iPad even more now.

  2. Hey Kevin,

    this actually also works from the iPad:

    go to m.google.com/sync
    If it says that there’s no service available or the device isn’t supported, make sure you have English (US) selected as language.
    select the appropriate device (iPad) as shown on your 4th screenshot and then you can select the calendars as well :)

    • Best comment ever! Thank you. I could not quite get it to work. Went to m.google.com/sync on my ipad, selected my ipad, and clicked on my wife’s calendar. When to my iCal and the little “calendar” button finally showed up in the top left corner and everything worked! Yay! Before, I tried to follow directions, but it just would not work for me even though I did find a screen where I was allowed to choose her calendar. Oh well. All’s good now.

  3. Joe Easterly

    My only concern is why Google disabled syncing with more than one Calendar. Their sync system often seems less than reliable (I’ve been burned many, many times by contact sync screwups), and perhaps this limitation was to protect your calendar data. Just because you can trick their calendar sync doesn’t mean you should.

  4. Richard

    i’m confused so excuse my ignorance. Do you have to do this on the computer that the Ipad is synched to? Because I cant find any of the safari options you talk about above on my ipad…and I synch to a windows 7 computer – is that going to be an issue?

  5. Since nobody has answered this: If you don’t see a list of devices, it’s because you have to setup the iPad to sync with Google Calendars over Exchange first, which is a separate process. Follow the link in the first paragraph to get to Google Sync, then follow the link there for directions for the iphone. Once you go through that process, when you go back to m.google.com/sync, you will see your iPad there, and then the rest of this article applies.

  6. I’ve just done this and it works!! Thanks!

    To all those questioning why they don’t see it on their version of Safari.. the pictures show a desktop version of the client. Essentially, all you are doing is mimicing the iphone browser (mobile safari) on your desktop and enabling the settings.

  7. I am with you except when you chose to manage your ipad. I dont see that on the safari screen. Where did you see that list with iPad at the top?

  8. when I get to my google sync settings for the ipad it’ll only let me check one box, won’t let me check any others…

    anyone else have this problem?

  9. Kevin I am with you except when you chose to manage your ipad. I dont see that on the safari screen. Where did you see that list with iPad at the top. I don’t see that. Also does this then mean that the calendar will sync over wifi? or only when I physically hook up the ipad to the laptop and sync through itunes? Thank you.

  10. question.

    what allows google to see that you now, in fact, own an ipad?

    when I put m.google.com/sync in my browser (after following instructions), I only have the option of altering my iphone calendars.

    it seems as though google doesn’t know that I have an ipad yet. I want to tell them really bad, but don’t know how.

    thanks

  11. I can confirm that this also works for Google Apps (for your domain) users, although it takes a few extra clicks, and I had to log in twice.

    Follow Kevin’s instructions exactly, but after logging in look in the middle of the page where it says:

    Google Apps user?
    Configure your domain at m.google.com

    Click that link, then you’ll see a page with little buttons for the individual Google services. Below the buttons look for:

    Google Apps user?
    Tap to configure for your domain

    Click that, and a dialog opens at the top of the window prompting you to enter your domain. Enter the domain and press the Go button.

    Now, I got a green box at the top of the window showing my domain name and several buttons. Click the “Sync” button.

    On the next screen click “Sign in with your Google Apps Account.” Enter your user name and password.

    NOW, you will finally see the magic page called “Google Sync – Manage Devices” and your iPad should be listed. Disable javascript and click on the iPad link to see the list of your calendars. Check the calendars you want on your iPad and press the “Save” button on the bottom right.

    As soon as I went back to my iPad all of the calendars had magically appeared.

    Good luck.

  12. Brilliant. I am a PC guy but I have an iphone.
    I managed to do this on my iphone with turning off Java in the settings.
    Working like a charm.
    Thank you so much.
    Tal

  13. Rafael espinoza

    Thanks a million! This worked great! the functionality of the iPad calendar is now better than my iPod Touch, because I can now toggle off calenders too! Great explanation and walkthrough.

    • Curtis Carmack

      Mike,

      CalDAV works great and is what I used with no problem when I first fired up my iPad. Some users, however, need to be able to send invites, which I’ve heard CalDAV does not support on Google Apps.

      Curt

  14. Don’t have an iPad, but can you use CalDAV? Works great with iPhone, supports multiple calendars, and even syncs calendar colors between gCal and iPhone! All without Exchange support.