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Thursday, September 13, 2007

How to use Group Schedules in Microsoft Outlook

Outlook lets you view the free/busy status of other users, either through Exchange Server or through a free/busy server such as the one offered by Microsoft or your own internal free/busy server. You're probably aware that you can view someone else's schedule when you create a meeting request, but you might not know that you can create and work with group schedules without creating meeting requests. This is handy when you need to monitor other people's schedules but not schedule meetings with them.

Here's how to create a group schedule in Outlook 2003:
1. Open the Calendar folder and click the View Group Schedules button on the toolbar
2. Click New, enter a name for the new group, and click OK
3. In the resulting group schedule dialog box, click Add Others and choose Add from Address Book
4. Select the people (or resources) whose schedules you want to include and click OK
5. Click Add Others and choose Add Public Folder if you want to add a calendar stored in a public folder

The dialog box should now show the free/busy times for the selected people and resources. If you do want to schedule a meeting, just click Make Meeting and choose an option to create either a new meeting request or a new message with a selected individual or all individuals in the schedule. Use the Zoom drop-down list to choose the amount of scheduling information to view.