Adding an ICS Event File to Google Calendar

If you register for webinars, conferences, meetings, etc. on a somewhat regular basis, you are probably familiar with ICS files. An ICS file is an iCalendar file; and can contain a single event or an entire calendar feed. Online registrations and event notices tend to make use of these files quite a bit, because they offer a one-click method for people to add the events to their calendars.

If you’re using Outlook, Thunderbird, iCal or just about any other desktop calendar program, you simply download the file, open it and save the event to your calendar.

However, if you’re using Google Calendar, things get a little bit trickier. There’s no simple way to open the file and have Google Calendar take over from there. Instead, you basically have to understand how Google Calendar expects ICS files to be used (why the system uses this logic is kind of beyond me; but that’s the way things are). Google Calendar, for some reason, does not seem to expect people to use ICS files to add individual events regularly. Instead, it uses the logic that an ICS file should include a calendar “feed”, similar to a website’s RSS feed, that would contain a complete list of events.

iCal Files for Single Google Calendar Events

Over the past few months, I have been going round-and-round trying to figure out how to link to individual events in a Google Calendar, allowing visitors to add the event to their own calendars. Google does a nice job of providing functionality to add an event to your own Google calendar, but they don’t seem to offer any functionality to add an event to other calendars.

Google does, however, provide a link to an iCal file for each calendar’s feed; which allows you to add the calendar itself to your own calendar program (Outlook, etc.). The problem with that, obviously, is that, instead of adding a single event (maybe a concert or conference you want to attend, a public meeting, etc.), it adds all of the events from that calendar.