Paul Liebrand’s Weblog

Welcome to my blog mainly about SharePoint

Getting SharePoint Calendar Reminders in Outlook

I frequently get asked the same question when demonstrating the ability to connect SharePoint calendars to Outlook,  “Will it pop up reminders like normal Outlook calendar items do?” And I always have to answer with, “Unfortunately… no.”

I also get the phone call from people saying they are getting the “The reminder for event name could not be set because the item is in a folder that does not support reminders. Is this OK?”. People are very disappointed when they find out you cannot get reminders from SharePoint calendars that are connected to Outlook.

However, using some of the out of the box features I have been able to come up with an acceptable solution for this problem.  Unfortunately, it does take some effort to setup than it does to simply just click the “Connect to Outlook” button.

The following post will outline the “workaround” to achieving this functionality.

  1. Navigate to the calendar in SharePoint you want to receive reminders on
  2. Create a new calculated column called StartTime with the following settings:

    image

  3. Create a new view based on the All Calendar Items view. Call it something like Outlook Reminders and create the following filter:

    image

    NOTE: After you have created the view, SharePoint will create an RSS feed associated with this view.

  4. From the Calendar, click Settings, then List Settings, and then click on your Outlook Reminders view located at the bottom of the screen.
  5. Click on the RSS icon

    image

  6. Copy the RSS feed URL to the clipboard.
  7. Open Outlook 2007 and then click on Tools, then Account Settings and select the RSS Feeds tab.
  8. Click New and paste the URL in here. Click Ok on the RSS Feed Options dialog screen.

At this point, you have just brought the calendar information based on the view in from SharePoint into Outlook.  I realize that if you have the common feed sync option enabled you could have simply clicked on the Subscribe to this feed button from Internet Explorer and you would be done already, but this is the long way.

Now that we have the feed sync with Outlook we need to create a custom rule that will alert if you when a new item appears within the feed.

  1. From within Outlook, click on Tools and then Rules and Alerts
  2. Under Email Rules, click on New Rule and then select Check messages as they arrive under the Start from a blank rule section. Click Next
  3. Check the box on from RSS Feeds with specific text in the title and then select the link for specific text. This will bring up a list of all the RSS Feeds you currently have connected to Outlook.Check the RSS Feeds that is associated with the calendar and view your created and then click Ok, then click Next.
  4. Check the box on display a specific message in the New Item Alert window
  5. Click on the a specific message link and type a message you want to be displayed when this rules as been met. For example, “Reminder!”.
  6. Click Next, and then click Next again and your rule should look something like this:

    image

  7. Click Finished and you are ready to go.

Now to test it out to make sure it is all functioning the way it should.

Here is the event item I created in SharePoint:

And here is the pop message / reminder I received the next time my Outlook performed a send / receive:

image

And there you have it — receiving reminders from calendars that are stored in SharePoint. I do understand that this setup is not going to work for everyone. For example, by default the RSS Feeds are only synchronized every 1 hours. So if you are looking for reminders in 5 minute increments this may not work.

Remember that this rule in Outlook will trigger anytime a new item shows up within the RSS Feed that you have associated with your view. If you want to be reminded 1 day before the event, then simply change the formula to something like =[StartDate]-1.

This is the way I solved this problem and I am sure there are 100 other ways to do it.  If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to let me know. At the end of the day, this met the needs of many of my end users.

Thank you

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December 11, 2007 - Posted by | SharePoint

20 Comments »

  1. Nice workaround – that’s some great out of the box thinking Paul!

    There are also some 3rd party web parts that can send out emails for things like tasks that are coming due such as… blatant plug… my own SharePoint Reminder. http://www.pentalogic.net/sharepointreminder

    While not as nice as the popup Alert you get with your idea the advantage is that it’s much easier for an overworked IT bod to setup for a whole group of users.

    Comment by Ryan | January 17, 2008 | Reply

  2. This is great! I notice though that STARTING TIME (the new column I created for START TIME) is always 5 hours behind the actual START TIME. So my event time starts at 1:00 AM.When I see the STARTING TIME column I created in the text of the RSS, it says 8:00 PM from the day before? Any ideas?

    Comment by Mike P | February 21, 2008 | Reply

  3. Mike — first thing I would tell you to check is to insure all your time zone options are setup correctly for your time zone. The time zone can be specified in Central Administration, Site Collection, Web and an individual level.

    I’ll try to examine this again to insure I did not have the same issue.

    Comment by liebrand | February 22, 2008 | Reply

  4. […] Getting SharePoint Calendar Reminders in Outlook. […]

    Pingback by Bookmarking the web - w16/2008 - double density design | April 20, 2008 | Reply

  5. Mike, Liebrand,
    I also have the problem with the start/end time being hours off. in my case it shows up in the calendar event history or in alerts sent from the calendar. the time is 7 hours off, which is my current time zone offset with GMT/UTC time.

    have you found out more about this? do you have this same issue?

    someone else reported this on TechNet forums and I posted my issue there as well:

    http://forums.microsoft.com/TechNet/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=3236200&SiteID=17&mode=1

    Comment by jeroen | April 24, 2008 | Reply

  6. When you subscribe to an alert the Time Zone setting is stored along with the alert. For example, SharePoint knows my time zone “(GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US and Canada)” as 13. If I check the “ImmedSubscriptions” and “SchedSubsciptions” tables in your content database and verify that the WebTimeZone option matches your actual time zone that SharePoint is setup as.

    Whenever you change the time zone it is supposed to update your alerts as well but it is quiet possible that something may prevent this from happening. For instance, all my environments are running SP1 — perhaps before SP1 this was a bug and never got updated.

    To figure out what your appropriate time zone option should be open your Timezone.xml file located under your 12 hive config folder and you can see the ID in there. Or you can navigate to the Regional Settings page of your web site and view the source — all the ID’s are listed there as well.

    If you are experiencing this problem please indicate which build of SharePoint you are running.

    Comment by liebrand | April 24, 2008 | Reply

  7. I have a similar situation.(I say similar because I know how complicated the setup is for any sharepoint farm installation)

    I have a WSS 3.0 farm installation using sql2005 as the database server. I have my time zones set to GMT -06:00 Central time zone and I get the odd times listed in the alerts that are sent out.

    The times are consistantly wrong so I’m guessing in my case there is something causing it to be off the same all the time like an incorrect Time Zone setting somewhere.

    I can’t find it. I have checked the tables as described above and all of the Time Zone id’s match my central time zone settings. I have checked the times on all the servers involved and they are set correctly.

    I HAVE noticed that the bad times show up for the Newly Added calendar items but when an item is deleted, the correct times are displayed.(BTW: The web browser views of the events show the correct time.)

    I also get odd times in alerts when I update an existing item in the calendar…suprisingly, the crossed out time is correct!

    This all leads me to believe that the program that is run by the timer service to email alerts isn’t using the email template properly or the template itself that is used for different “Alert Types” has a few bugs in it and needs some fixing.

    I have not updated to SP1, so perhaps this may solve my problem, but you’d think you would be able to find more people that have this problem or at least a mention of it somewhere. Maybe I’ll dig through the SP1 docs…

    Oh yeah, the SP web servers are running on virtual servers.

    Comment by Kevin | May 16, 2008 | Reply

  8. […] for items created on a SharePoint calendar that is connected to Outlook. A few months ago I wrote a post about how you can use RSS feeds and Outlook rules to generate your own […]

    Pingback by SharePoint Calendar Reminders in Outlook 2007: Part 2 « Paul Liebrand’s Weblog | June 4, 2008 | Reply

  9. Good hint! But how to do it if the Sharepoint is at a password protected site? The RSS doesn’t work. There are some links for using RSS but they do not seem to be secure. Any suggestions?

    Thanks.

    Jan

    Comment by Jan Viegand | July 15, 2008 | Reply

  10. A nice workaround, but this just shows how out of touch Microsoft is with users needs. I support SharePoint at my organization and the need for reminder alerts is what people call me for most often.

    Comment by John | August 26, 2008 | Reply

  11. John — Thanks… it is not ideal but it works for most situations.

    Comment by liebrand | August 26, 2008 | Reply

  12. Question: Will this work with 2003 Outlook?

    Thanks,

    Tom

    Comment by Tom Dunn | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  13. Unfortunately not because Outlook 2003 does not have RSS support like Outlook 2007 does.

    Comment by liebrand | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  14. “Remember that this rule in Outlook will trigger anytime a new item shows up within the RSS Feed that you have associated with your view. If you want to be reminded 1 day before the event, then simply change the formula to something like =[StartDate]-1.”

    Where should I input the said formula? Thanks

    Comment by Amer Ezzadeen | February 5, 2009 | Reply

  15. Amer,

    In step 2 where you create the calculated column. Simply change that from “=[StartDate]” to “=[StartDate] – 1”.

    I hope this helps.

    Comment by liebrand | February 5, 2009 | Reply

  16. Great tip – thanks for that. I am testing outlook 2007 so it works but unfortuatly the majority of my org is still on outlook 2003.
    I also have the similar problem to those above with the timezone issue where the StartTime (and thus alert notification) was an hour after actual time, I am London based and this may be due to shifting to Summer Time? Our server is set to Central time. I have an alert set up on the calendar list and it came through fine, but the ‘modified date’ shows Central Time and the SatrtTime that the alert email displays shows the correct time! (not an hour off!). I have all my personal regional settings set to London time GMT. We have SP1 intstalled.
    Thanks again for the posting though 🙂

    Comment by Rod | April 16, 2009 | Reply

  17. Liebrand, you are the best! I have huge dents in my head from banging it on my desk trying to find out a solution to this ridiculous problem. Now my only issue is that I cannot copy the RSS feed. I will get some help here from IT about why that is and then I can see your instructions are pretty straightforward. NOw if we can deal with the timezone issue. Do you think Microsoft is listening? Well, here is hoping for 2010. Thanks again, Kerri

    Comment by Kerri | June 8, 2009 | Reply

    • Nobody from Microsoft has contact me regarding the time difference issue with alerts, etc., so I have no idea if they are listening. My guess is a support incident will have to be opened with them for any action to take place. Microsoft in the past has been really good about resolving issues they consider bugs. I am just surprised that after two service packs and a number of hot fixes this issue has not been addressed.

      I am starting to wonder if there is truly a problem or a configuration issue. I have checked and double checked my setup and everything appears to be configured correctly but the time difference issue remains.

      Comment by liebrand | June 11, 2009 | Reply

  18. Hi…
    My SP use SSL and password. The RSS don’t connect with sites with SSL and password?
    In this case, i don’t have solution for my reminder?
    What’s the use of calendars if i don’t have reminders?

    Thanks for the help..

    Alysson

    Comment by Alysson | July 6, 2009 | Reply


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