Apps chrome

5 apps and extensions to make Google Calendar better and more productive

A free Google or Gmail account also gets you Google Calendar, making it one of the most popular calendar apps on the planet. Although it’s packed with features, it’s not perfect. These free apps and extensions make Google Calendar better and more productive than ever.

1. Button for Google Calendar (Chrome): Simple drop-down pane for events at a glance

One of the best Chrome extensions for Google Calendar was a simple drop-down pane that showed a preview of upcoming events. There was one built by Google itself, then another by third-party developer Manas Tungare. Unfortunately, both are no longer available. But there is a worthy Button replacement for Google Calendar.

In fact, the creators of Button say their open-source extension is a replica of the Tungare original. Once you have it installed and logged in, click the icon in the extensions bar to see a pane with events coming up today and tomorrow. In case of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype or Google Meet calls, you also see a link for the meeting room to click and join directly.

The Button for Google Calendar also lets you create calendar events via a shortcut. Tap the plus icon to add name, date and time, location, links and notification to create a new entry. The extension also supports push notifications to remind you of upcoming events without clicking the button.


To download: Button for Google Calendar for Chrome (Free)

GCalToolkit is a paid desktop program for advanced calendar users to solve many limitations of Google Calendar. The same makers developed GCalPlus, a free Google Chrome extension to add several powerful features to Google Calendar and solve many annoyances of the app.

Here’s a quick list of some of GCalPlus’ best features:

  • Duplicate events / Create multiple events: Each event has a “Multiple Copy” option to duplicate it to a new date or multiple dates in your calendar. This is a great option for recurring events.
  • Titles developed on hover: Google Calendar does not display the full title of events beyond a certain number of characters. Whether it’s blocked due to view or due to overlapping events, you can now hover over any title card to see the full title name.
  • More “All Day” Events: See twice as many All Day events in weekly and daily views.
  • Group events all day: All Day events will be grouped alphabetically since their time slot doesn’t matter.
  • More events in Month view and L/R arrows: See twice as many events per day in the “Month” view and use the simple left and right arrow keys instead of “n” and “p” for the next or previous day.
  • Show busy dates: The month icon in the left sidebar will show red dots to indicate dates with multiple events.
  • Hide event illustrations: Remove header images automatically added by GCal.

There are several other features in GCalPlus which you can check out after installing the app or in the detailed overview video on its Chrome Store page. If you like it, check out other GCalToolkit free downloads.

To download: GCalPlus for Chrome (free)

3. Calendarist (Web): Easy Blocking and Time Tracking for Google Calendar

An essential part of being more productive is evaluating time fairly. You need to understand what you are spending time on (time tracking) and set aside dedicated time to complete your tasks (time blocking). Calendarist works with your Google Calendar to help you determine these two time estimates.

Once you have connected your Google calendar to the web app, Calendarist will save all the data to see where you have spent time. It encourages you to use hashtags to label each event in a certain way. You can also configure rules for auto-tagging; for example, all events containing a Zoom link will be tagged #videocall, or all events in your work calendar will be tagged #tasks. The more you use it and create events, the app learns your categories and suggests tags.

Calendarist organizes all this data into charts and graphs so you know where you’re actually spending your time. The app also encourages you to set goals and create recurring events so you can block time for these activities in your calendar.

Note that Calendarist works more like an analyst than a replacement for GCal. Use the data it gives you and learn how to block time in Google Calendar, because you need to combine the two to maximize your productivity.

4. CalendarPush (Web): Sync Two or More Google Calendars While Maintaining Privacy

It’s common to have separate calendars for your work life (Cal W) and your personal life (Cal P). But the synchronization of both is broken in GCal. Sure, Google lets you add multiple calendars to a single view, but if there’s an event in Cal W, it doesn’t automatically block an event’s time in Cal P.

CalendarPush makes this possible in a single, hassle-free setup. Log in to the web app with your primary calendar, then add a second calendar to sync it with. That’s literally all you need to do. Now when you create a new event in either calendar, it will appear as a blocked time in the other. In the settings, you can also configure CalendarPush to activate only for events that you have marked “Will attend”.

The app does a few things on top of that, mainly with privacy. Work calendars are often shared with colleagues. You don’t want them to know about personal events that you have marked on your Cal P. So the blocked time on Cal W will only say “Busy”, letting you know you have an appointment for that hour on your Cal P, which only you can verify.

CalendarPush is free to sync two calendars. If you want to sync more, each additional calendar costs $20 per year. But as the team says, for most users, two calendars are enough.

By default, Google Calendar displays two categories in the sidebar: My calendars (calendars you’ve created) and Other calendars (calendars that others have created and shared with you). You can enable/disable any of them to show it in your main view. But when you manage multiple calendars (like multiple workers’ shifts or multiple project calendars with different tasks), it’s tedious and cumbersome to manually select them every time.

The multiple calendar picker lets you create groups from your own calendars or shared calendars. For example, you can add Tom, Dick, and Harry’s calendar shifts to create a “Weekly Shifts” group to see all calendars together. This view is only available on the computer where you installed the extension.

You can create as many predefined groups as you want. Rename them in the extension’s options page and select the calendars you want from this group. It may take a few refreshes for the list of calendars to appear. Just follow the instructions on the options page if it doesn’t work the first couple times.

To download: Multiple Calendar Picker for Chrome (Free)

Learn Google Calendar Shortcuts

The purpose of these apps is to make Google Calendar better and simpler, but to give credit where it’s due; Google itself has made a big effort in this area. Many people don’t use Google Calendar or create events there because they just don’t know how easy it is with the many shortcuts available.

Google Calendar’s keyboard shortcuts will allow you to create a new event in seconds while adding all relevant details. You can also add shortcuts to Chrome’s URL bar. And Google Assistant supports voice commands to create, cancel, or reschedule events and find out what’s next. The more you learn, the more productive you’ll be with Google Calendar.

confused woman covered in sticky notes

6 Google Calendar mistakes to avoid

Read more