How To Import a Calendar From Excel to Outlook

Outlook Calendar
Outlook Calendar | Source

Do you use the Calendar in Outlook?

  • Yes
  • Sometimes
  • Never
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One of the great things about Microsoft Office products is the ease of which data can be moved from product to product. For instance, Excel can house a list of names and addresses that can be mail merged into Word as part of a standardized letter or as mailing labels. Microsoft Access can import from Excel as well as export data to Excel. Another cool way to transfer data from one Office product to another is to import a Calendar from Excel in Outlook.

Reasons to Import a Calendar from Excel to Outlook

Importing a calendar from Excel to Outlook does not make sense in every case. If you are entering one or two appointments, it is easier to enter them directly into Outlook. However, many times a business will send out a list of company-recognized holidays to their employees in an attachment to an email. It makes sense to either copy or retype those dates in an Excel calendar template and upload that information into Outlook. It is quicker to enter appointments into Excel because you can work on more than one appointment at a time. Entering people's birthdays also makes sense this way. Another great example is my oldest son is playing baseball this year and his schedule was emailed to us in Excel spreadsheet. I copied the information into my Excel template and imported it directly into Outlook.

Preparing to Create a Calendar Upload Template in Excel

Before we can create the calendar upload template, we need to know what fields Outlook uses in their calendars. Here is a list of the most commonly used fields that are available in Outlook:

  • Subject* – This is what your appointment will appear as on your Outlook calendar.
  • Location – This is the location of the appointment.
  • Start Time
  • Start Date*
  • End Time
  • End Date*
  • All Day Event – This is a yes or no answer.
  • Reminder On/Off – This is a yes or no answer.
  • Reminder Date
  • Reminder Time
  • Categories – This is the appointment category.
  • Description – This is the large area of text that can be entered into an appointment.
  • Private – This is a Yes/No flag to determine if anyone else can see this event.
  • Sensitivity

Any field with an * after is required. Now that we know what Outlook is looking for, we can move to build the calendar upload template in Excel.

How to Create a Calendar Upload Template in Excel

Setting up a template to upload a calendar from Excel to Outlook can be as easy or sophisticated as you like. Personally, I like to add features that require a little more work up front, but will save time in the end.

Control Tab in Excel
Control Tab in Excel | Source

Control Tab

The purpose of the “Control” tab is to house data that will be used to create drop down menus on the “Update” tab. By entering this data here, it will make uploading calendar appointments easier.

  1. Open a new workbook in Excel and save it as “Calendar Upload.xls”. It is vitally important to save it as an “Excel 1997 – 2003 Workbook” because Outlook can only update the .xls file extension.
  2. Rename one of the tabs “Control” by right-clicking on a tab and selecting “Rename”.
  3. In cell B3, enter “All Day Event”. In cells B4 and B5, enter “Yes” and “No” respectively. Highlight B4:B5, and in the “Name Box” in the upper left hand corner of the screen and name that section “ADE”.
  4. In cell E3, enter “Categories”. Starting in E4, enter all of the categories that you use in Outlook. They can be found in Outlook by going to the calendar section and opening up a new appointment. Click on the “Categorize” icon and a list of all of the categories that have been set up will appear. The default categories are based on color. I would highly recommend renaming them something useful. You can add as many categories as you like, although, there are only 25 different colors in Outlook. Enter the categories into Excel and sort them alphabetically once you are finished entering them. It is critical that they are spelled the exact same way in Outlook and Excel. Highlight the entire area from E4 through the end of your list. In the “Name Box”, enter “Category” as the name for this selection.
  5. I decided to format my tables by shading them and adding a border around them, but that is totally up to you.

Upload Tab in Excel
Upload Tab in Excel | Source

Upload Tab

The “Upload” tab is where the calendar information is entered. It is important to at least to use the following fields: Subject, Start Date, End Date, Start Time, End Time, and All Day Event. Feel free to add whatever other fields that you routinely use.

  1. In cell A1, title the template as “Calendar Upload Template” and format it as bold.
  2. Starting in row 4, enter all of the fields that you want to use. Just because you add a non-required field, does not mean that you have to use it every time. I chose Subject, Location, Description, Start Date, End Date, Start Time, End Time, All Day Event, and Categories. Shade all of the fields one color and make them bold.
  3. Select and shade the area that you want to use to enter your calendar information into. I choose A5:I27. Put a thin border around it.
  4. Format the “Start Date” and “End Date” columns as a short date from D5:E27.
  5. Format the “Start Time” and “End Time” columns as time from F5:G27.
  6. In H5:H27, click on Excel’s Data tab and click on the Data Validation button. This will open a dialogue box. On the Settings tab, change the “Allow:” drop down box to “List”. In the “Source” box, enter “=ADE” (without the quotation marks) and click Ok. This will insert a drop down box that will give you the option of selecting yes or no.
  7. In I5:I27, click on Excel’s Data tab and click on the Data Validation button again. In the dialogue box that pops up, change “Allow:” to “List”. In the “Source”, enter “=Categories” (without the quotation marks) and click Ok. This will insert a drop down menu into each cell in this row that will allow you to select from the categories that you previously setup on the “Control” tab.
  8. Highlight A4:I27 and type “Upload” in to the name box.

Using the Calendar Upload Template

Now that the template is complete, enter or copy any appointment, holiday, vacation, or reminders into it. If you need more rows, insert them in the middle of the data entry area. When you are ready to upload the file, exit out of the spreadsheet in Excel.

Import Steps for Outlook
Import Steps for Outlook | Source
Softball game appointment loaded into Outlook using the Calendar Upload Template
Softball game appointment loaded into Outlook using the Calendar Upload Template | Source

Importing a Calendar into Outlook

Importing a calendar into Outlook from Excel is easy. Here are the step by step instructions:

  1. Click the calendar button in Outlook.
  2. Click on the “File” menu in Outlook and then select “Import and Export.” An Import and Export dialogue box will pop up. Select “Import from another program or file” and click “Next”. Select “Microsoft Excel 97-2003” and click “Next.” Click on the “Browse” button and find the “Calendar Upload Template.xls.” Click “Next” again. Select “Calendar” as the destination folder and click “Next”. Check the box next to “Import ‘Upload’ into folder: Calendar” and then click “Finished.”

Your calendar items should now appear in your Outlook calendar. Once you upload the information into Outlook, you can delete all of the appointment information in the spreadsheet so it will be ready for next time.

Remember to set the upload template up using the exact field names or otherwise you will have to manually map the fields out. If put a lot of things on your Outlook calendar, this is a fast and easy way to save time.

Outlook Calendar Tips and Tricks

© 2012 Eric Cramer

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Comments 28 comments

M K Paul profile image

M K Paul 4 years ago from India

useful information..voted up.

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

I've never had to do this before, but I have known folks who have struggled with this process in the past. If only I could have sent them to this guide!

Devin 3 years ago

This is awesome! Only issue I have right now is that Reminders are not turned on for any of my calender items. I have searched the internet and have not come up with an easy way to have them all turned on. Can you help me?

ercramer36 profile image

ercramer36 3 years ago from Chicagoland Author

To turn the reminders on add the following columns:

Reminder On/Off

Reminder Date

Reminder Time

Reminder on/off is either True or False. Let me know if you have any questions or need any more help.

Devin 3 years ago

I have those columns in my spreadsheet and have reminder set to true and the reminder still remains off in outlook.

Chuch 3 years ago

Thanks very much! Three other web guides never mentioned that the "Reminder On/Off" cells had to be set to True or False. I'm finally able to import reminders.

Lisa 3 years ago

How caln you set the 'Show As' optin to free or busy?

ercramer36 profile image

ercramer36 3 years ago from Chicagoland Author

Add a column called "Show Time As". Outlook offers the following 4 choices: 1. Tenative, 2. Busy, 3. Free, and 4. Out of Office. Enter the corresponding number into each row that you want and it will upload into Outlook. Let me know if you have any more questions.

Lisa 3 years ago

Thank you for the great information. Another question, I am a delegate to share several other calendars. Am I able to import into other shared calendars from my Outlook calendar?

ercramer36 profile image

ercramer36 3 years ago from Chicagoland Author

I think each user has to upload their own appointments. I will try to research if it is possible.

Oceanas 3 years ago

do you know how i change the reminder prompt? currently the reminder prompt is set at 15 min.

how do i change this?

Texas Tina 3 years ago

This was tremendously helpful and I am grateful this site was so easily found. One note is that whenever you place new items into your Excel spreadsheet, if the number of rows is different you need to remove the "Upload" designation in the Name Box via the Formulas tab/Name Manager, and then repeat the instructions to highlight the section and name it "Upload" in the Name Box. Thanks!

ercramer36 profile image

ercramer36 3 years ago from Chicagoland Author

Thanks Texas Tina for the great tip!

cfieser 3 years ago

Is there a way to add recurrence to the events?

ercramer36 profile image

ercramer36 3 years ago from Chicagoland Author

cfieser - unfortunately Microsoft did not create a way to add reocurring events when uploading calendar appointments. The only thing that you can do is to upload the events and then manually edit them to reoccur.

3 years ago


D54 2 years ago

I tried this and it worked great. It was however a test and now I don't know how to remove the excel data from my outlook calendar...any help is appreciated.

Oscalv profile image

Oscalv 2 years ago from Munich, Germany

I have imported a whole year reporting calendar that contains 252 events. All of them are imported correctly but for those which description text is longer than usual the import is not taking the whole text. I have tried doing the import with less items 21 and still is not taking the full text. I tried with 12 and it takes the whole text. Does anybody know what the problem is? and whether is possible to find a solution so I can import as many description text and as many events as necessary without restrictions?

ercramer36 profile image

ercramer36 2 years ago from Chicagoland Author

D54 - Thanks for your comments. The only way that I have found to remove the data from Outlook is to manually delete it.

Sheresa 2 years ago

Hi there! I just went through this whole process with about 6 entries in my table - and only one of them is not showing up and I can't figure out why. Would love some feedback! Thank you!

AD 21 months ago

Thanks :)

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 18 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Great tips, Eric. You make it sound easy to do without any hassles. Voted up for useful!

Anand 5 months ago

I can only see the option of csv. format and not Microsoft Excel 97-2003 format. I tried doing it with csv. file as well and completed the process but cant see anything on outlook. Please advice

Meg 4 months ago

Hi - I have just followed this process and imported the entries how ever found that none of the description has come up? Anyone able to tell me why that might be? I have checking the mapping and it shows up correctly there but when imported there is nothing. Exported it back out to .csv and it shows up again?

And 4 months ago

Very helpful thanks. I wonder if there's a way to import into shared (or team) calendars, as I'm currently only seeing an option to import into my own personal calendar?

Roger B 3 months ago

Fantastically clear instructions. However, when I get to “Import from another program or file” I don't get an XLS option - just CSV and PST. Is there another step I could take?

Mark 3 months ago

So what you're saying is, MS Office 2013 can't create a recurring business day event? Then if I used the suggested excel to create a virtual calendar, I can't share it either... meaaaaan, dis suks!

Steve 2 weeks ago

It appears Microsoft has removed the .xls import option in 2013

& 2016 Outlook. Only .csv supported now, which omits the functionality of this awesome template...... thanks microsoft

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