Any way to make Outlook Calendar invitations look right to Gmail/Google Calendar users?

ajkessel

Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 64 bit
Email Account
Exchange Server
I use Outlook 2016/Exchange at work. Whenever I send a calendar invite to my family members on Gmail/Apple devices, the format is very confusing to them -- it looks like a full email with a signature block followed by an ICS attachment that they need to double click to get the invite and then open in the Apple (or Google) Calendar application. The whole workflow is very clunky and non-obvious to non-technical users.

This use case - an Outlook/Exchange user sending a calendar invite to an Apple/Gmail user - must be extremely common. Yet as best I can tell there is no way to make the Outlook calendar invite look like a Gmail calendar invite to the recipient. The best workaround I've found is to create these events on my own Gmail account and then import them into Outlook, so the recipients see invitations that look normal to them.

Is there really no more elegant solution to this extremely common use case? Perhaps some custom VBA could generate a properly-formatted Google Calendar invite based on an Outlook calendar entry?
 

ajkessel

Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 64 bit
Email Account
Exchange Server
I've found the multi-step gmail (or iOS mail) process is confusing for nontechnical recipients so often the calendar invite is never accepted/added to their calendar. It seems crazy to me that there is no good solution where both Exchange, Gmail, and iPhone each have over a billion users and the technical solution can't be that complicated for either company to implement (either Outlook could send Google/Apple-compliant calendar invites, or Gmail/iOS could parse Outlook invites so it looks normal to the recipient). In the absence of any vendor solution, I wonder if anyone has thought about a plugin or VBA script that could generate the right type of invite based on the recipient.
 

ajkessel

Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 64 bit
Email Account
Exchange Server
I've found a solution but it's extremely roundabout. I created an Outlook VBA macro as follows:
Code:
Public Sub AddToGoogleCalendar()
If Application.ActiveInspector.Class = 35 Then
Application.ActiveInspector.CurrentItem.SaveAs "c:\temp\google.ics", olICal
result = Shell("wsl /home/user/bin/import_google", 0)
If result = 0 Then
   MsgBox "Google import failed"
End If
Else
MsgBox "Not a calendar item"
End If
End Sub
Then I created a shell script in WSL that calls out to gcalcli to import that ICS file:
Code:
#!/bin/bash
gcalcli import /mnt/c/temp/google.ics
This also required patching gcalcli to cause it to send email notifications, as documented here.

Then I added this macro to the ribbon for an Outlook appointment creation window.

The net result is if I create an event in Outlook and then click on my button for this macro, a copy of the event is saved off as an ICS, then imported into Google Calendar via the CLI, and Google Calendar will thus generate the proper invite format so that other Google and Apple users can accept it.

The only thing this doesn't solve is that the responses to the invite don't come back to my Exchange account, and if I update the calendar item in Exchange, it doesn't automatically propagate back to the users who were only invited via the Google Calendar import.
 
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