Outlook Calendar Best Practices
Microsoft and other institutions that have encountered issues with calendaring in Outlook (such as disappearing appointments) recommend the calendaring best practices that are outlined below. Please note that these best practices should be used by delegates* but also by all mailbox owners (with and without delegates). *Note: By delegates we mean people that have access to create or edit entries in another person's calendar.
- Use the same version of Outlook: Mailbox owners (and any delegates) should be using the same version of Outlook on any computers that are used for calendaring. This should be at least Outlook 2010 with the latest updates from Microsoft. If you are a delegate and you have a different version of Outlook than the owner of the mailbox, please contact the Helpdesk to start an installation of the appropriate version of Outlook (see How do I find Outlook version information?)
- Obviously, if you are in a mixed environment of Windows, Mac and mobile devices, it is not possible to have the same version of Outlook. In such a mixed environment, each platform should use the same version of Outlook and each device should be using the latest version of its mail software. That is, Windows computers should use the same Outlook version as other Windows computers, Mac computers should use the same version of outlook as other Mac computers, and mobile devices should use the latest version of their email client. Even so, inconsistencies may still happen, either due to the technology or due to one person doing something different.
- Keep the number of delegates to a minimum. This will help prevent unintended changes to a calendar.
- Do not delete a meeting invite without checking that the meeting is already accepted on the calendar. If an invite is deleted before the mailbox owner or the delegate has had a chance to accept it, then the meeting will disappear from the calendar. If you are not sure the meeting is on your calendar, do not delete it. In addition, when a meeting request is received, Outlook will automatically insert a placeholder for that meeting in your calendar, even before you've had a chance to accept or decline. A picture of this placeholder appears below compared with a picture of an appointment that's been properly accepted. If you see this placeholder, it means that the meeting has not been firmly accepted. If there is still a meeting invite for this meeting in your mailbox, you should accept it.
Note how the placeholder on the left is faded in appearance and has a stripe on the left with alternating colors. The properly accepted meeting on the right has a solid color line and is not faded in appearance.
- Action should always be taken on a calendar event: Accept, Accept as Tentative or Decline.
- Have an agreed-upon procedure for handling meeting invites - especially if there's more than one person with access to a calendar. Only one person should be accepting and declining meeting invites - either the mailbox owner or a single delegate. If the delegate will be performing this, then the mailbox owner may choose to instruct Outlook to send meeting requests only to the delegate. Instructions for this (caveats included) are listed at the end of this document.
- Take action only from the Inbox: accept or decline invites from the Inbox, not from the Calendar.
- Don't delete a meeting request from one device if it has been accepted from another. Accept it again, instead. In general, if you are not attending a meeting, do not delete an invite, but click the Decline button, instead.
- Schedule End Dates on recurring meetings. Generally, within a year is best.
- Don't forward meeting requests - new attendees should be added to the original attendee list by the organizer.
Other sites offering Calendaring Best Practices
- Microsoft: Outlook meeting requests: Essential do’s and don’ts
- Stanford: Exchange Calendars & Meeting Requests Best Practices
- UPenn: Exchange Shared Calendaring Best Practices
Further Information for Delegates
Delegates (those who have access to another person's mailbox), may find the following resources useful, as well:
- Manage another person's mail and calendar items with Outlook 2010
- Manage another person's mail and calendar items with Outlook 2007
Configuring Outlook to only send meeting requests to a delegate and no meeting requests to the mailbox owner
It is possible to configure Outlook to only send meeting invites to a delegate and no invites to the mailbox owner. We cannot recommend this for everyone, as it may cause complications when the delegate is unavailable to process meeting requests. However, instructions for configuring this feature of Outlook are available below.
- For Outlook 2007: Select the Send meeting requests and responses only to my delegates, not to me check box on the Delegates tab (Tools menu, Options command).
- For Outlook 2010: Click the File tab. Click Account Settings, and then click Delegate Access. Select the check box My delegates only.