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I have a confession to make. I forget birthdays. Seriously. I mean, I forget my brother’s and sister’s birthdays, my parent’s birthdays, and it takes a boatload of effort on my part to make sure I never forget my kids’ or my wife’s birthday – because for a father and husband, that’s disaster. However, it has been very close a few times. And as far as my close friends go? Forget it. Never remember a single birthday of theirs, even though I’d absolutely love to give them a token of our friendship on their birthday.
It isn’t that I don’t want to do something nice, it’s just that the days are so filled and I work so hard to remember everything in the schedule, that there doesn’t seem to be any space for those occasional events that crop up once a year. I’m lucky I remember holidays. I hardly even remember my own birthday, for Pete’s sake.
Because my memory for birthdays and special events is so bad, I was pretty happy to realize that I have absolutely everyone’s birthday right at my fingertips thanks to Facebook Events. A lot of folks already know about this, but if you’re one of those that haven’t really explored the dark recesses of the Facebook menus on your account, then you may be just as surprised as I was how incredibly useful and versatile the Facebook Calendar can be.
We’ve covered a number of unique ways to celebrate birthdays using Facebook, such as how to give Facebook gifts, and Matt touched on Facebook birthdays in his pro/con article about Facebook as well. Dave also covered a useful app on iPhone that you can use to remember birthdays. In this article, I’m going to show you four ways that you can make use of your Facebook Calendar. This will include how to export Facebook Calendar events to Outlook, how to export them to Google Calendar, how to strip spam-events that you really don’t care about, and how to even set up notifications for upcoming events from your Facebook Calendar. We’ll do it all in just one article. Don’t believe me? Let’s get it started.
Finding and Exporting Your Facebook Calendar
To quickly get to your Facebook Calendar, just click on “Home” and then click on “Events” in the left navigation bar under your Favorites.
This is the List view of your calendar, and even if you’re unfamiliar with Facebook Calendar, you’ve probably seen this events list page in passing. It’s the default display for upcoming events, because it shows you in a very quick glance what events are occurring today, tomorrow and then into the near future. What we’re really interested in though, is to get to the Calendar so that we can export it outside of Facebook and put it to better use. So, click on the “Calendar” view on this page.
This puts the view into the classic calendar format that you’re used to, organized by month. You can see each of the birthdays and other events on each day box in the form of a small icon. To get to the export feature, click on the gear next to the “Today” button.
Click on the Export option in this menu, and this is where the fun starts.
First – a pop-up box will appear that actually looks like you don’t have many options at all, except to close the window. Don’t be deceived. There are two links tucked away in this text, and this is exactly where you need to be to export your Facebook Calendar. You can either click on the “export your friends’ birthdays” to just export birthdays and nothing else, or click on “upcoming events” to export just events.
Exporting Facebook Calendar to Outlook
When you click either link, you’ll get an “External Protocol Request”. Search through the confusing text in this box to find the link after “webcal:”, which should be something like “//www.facebook.com/ical/u.php?uid=xxxxxxxx&key=xxxxxxx”
Unfortunately, you most likely won’t be able to highlight and copy that link, so you’ll need to open up Notepad and type it in. This is the link you’re going to use later to export your Facebook Calendar to other email applications than your default. In my case, I have Outlook set up as my default mail/calendar client, so I can just click on “Launch Application”, and Chrome will automatically launch Outlook.
This part of the procedure could be different for you, depending on what Chrome wants to open, especially if you don’t have Outlook installed. If you’re only interested in exporting your Facebook Calendar to Google Calendar, then just take note of that URL link, click on “Do Nothing”, and then skip ahead to the Google Calendar section.
If you click to launch Outlook, you’ll next see an Outlook notification where you’ll need to provide permission for the new Internet Calendar to be added.
In Outlook 2010, this is essentially what your new calendar filled with all of your Facebook friend’s birthdays will look like.
That’s all there is to exporting the Calendar to Microsoft Outlook. Easy, wasn’t it?
Exporting Facebook Calendar to Google Calendar
Sending those Facebook events and birthdays to Google is a tiny bit trickier. You’ll need that URL you noted earlier in hand. Then, head over to your Google calendar account, and scroll down until you see “Other calendars” in the left navigation menu. Click on the dropdown arrow, and you’ll see an option to “Add by URL”.
This will pop up a window with the magic field where you can paste the Facebook URL you noted above.
Click on Add Calendar, and after a few seconds of processing time, Google Calendar will bring in all of the events. If you had chosen to export your Friends birthdays, you’ll now find your friends’ birthdays highlighted on each of the days when they occur.
It’s synced with Facebook Calendar, so you can rest assured you’ll never, ever, ever forget another birthday!
Adding Birthday Notifications
Of course, if you really want insurance against forgetting birthdays, then you’ll need email notifications like me. Just click the dropdown arrow next to your new “Friends’ Birthdays” calendar, and click on the “Reminders and notifications” link.
Here you can set an event reminder that will either issue a pop-up on your computer (if you’re online and connected to Google Calendar), or you can choose to have Google send you an email.
You may actually want to make it a little earlier than 10 minutes. Maybe a day or two in advance so you have time to pick up a birthday present…
Cool Things to Do With Facebook Events
There are a couple of other small, but important things that you need to know about Facebook Events and using them in external calendars. First – if you really hate those annoying events that you’re invited to all of the time, and are really only interested in events that you’ve accepted, or that you yourself have added to your Facebook Calendar, then go back into the Calendar settings (using the gear icon), and instead of clicking on the “Export” link, click on the “Settings” link.
This window lets you completely eradicate the suggested events or any events that you haven’t accepted or added yourself from the exported calendar and from your own Facebook calendar. This is really useful if you’re like me and really don’t like things added to your calendar without your express permission.
Finally, another insanely cool thing you can do if you exported your events to Google Calendar, is embed them in a web page. You can get to this in the same dropdown above in Google Calendar where you added email notifications. Instead, click on Calendar Settings, and you’ll see this page.
All you have to do is highlight the Iframe code, paste it somewhere on your website or some shared, private page you have with family or friends, and voila – all of those birthdays or events from your Facebook Calendar are now published online for other people to see.
There are probably very limited times when you’d want to do this, like when you’re building a private community page and want to use your Facebook birthday events to quickly populate a shared birthday calendar, as one example.
As you can see, there is a lot of coolness to the ability to export Facebook events like this. Once you’ve shared it out to a Calendar system like Google Calendar, you can do whatever you want. Best of all, you have those birthdays and events in the places where you check every day, complete with notifications. It’s yet another reason to love the convenience of Facebook information about family and friends, while adding the functionality of external calendars. That combination is a beautiful thing.
Do you use Facebook Calendar a lot? How do you manage your Facebook calendar? Do you think exporting it would help remember birthdays and events? Share your own thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!
Image Credit: A Day With the Word Birthday Via Shutterstock