GCALDaemon – Sync Google Calendar, Outlook, Rainlendar, iCal and Thunderbird

2008-09-05_124923 GCAL-Daemon Version Tested : 1.0 beta 16
Compatibility : Windows NT, 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OS X, Linux

Description : Java app that can automatically sync Google Calendar and iCal compatible calendar applications in both direction. Supports multiple files and Google Accounts. Enables you to effectively view and edit your Google Calendar offline. Also has some interesting other tools like converting RSS/ATOM feeds to iCalendar format, and remote control of your computer via Gmail.

When I first realised I needed a calendar to organize things going on in life, I was introduced to a nice little shareware app called Rainlendar. Worked like a charm. The paid version only added the ability to sync between Google Calendar and Outlook. So, I set out on a quest to find a free method of syncing between whatever the heck I wanted, just to keep it freeware. After a few hours, I found GCALDaemon. This was around early 2007, and since then, the project has grown and grown, and even featured on Lifehacker!

If your a frequent reader of AppAholic, you’ll know I love Set And Forget applications. This is really one of those. I’ve done a bit of java programming in my studies, but this was the first app id found written in java that I actually found useful!

I don’t use half of what this tool is capable of, but I DO use it to do exactly what the title says. Seamless sync between Google Calendar and Rainlendar. Quite frankly, I love it! My girlfriend recently got a Mac Book! (Yes I know, how lucky!) She uses iCal, which in turn is synced to her Google Calendar, which is then downloaded to my local calendar. We each have our own, and we can add and edit items, either on the desktop, or from a browser! Genius.

I think there is quite a bit of potential for this tool. Theoretically, it can keep a whole office in sync with each other, or a whole department, or a team. I mean in Google Calendar, you can have multiple calendars, just as in many desktop programs. Using various syncing methods, you can sync your private calendar with your work calendar. Obviously you wouldn’t want this exactly, but with Google calendar, you can set a share option to only show busy or free time. Obviously, your boss or work collogues don’t want to know what time you booked your hooker doctor.

Viewing multiple colour coded calendars in the one place, makes it easy to plan team meetings and the like. Naturally, the new event “boring meeting” “Planing meeting” would sync back to their work meetings calendar. No excuses now! I know there are various web apps for doing the whole “meeting as a team” kinda thing, but they are extra. Were talking about using it as part of a process the users are already using, their Outlook calendar. Set up properly by a techie, they need never know there is such a thing as Google Calendar.

Anyway, other features this app offers is to use a calendar as an RSS reader. Clever idea I guess, but I’m not sure why I’d use it really. Any ideas anyone? One other useful function, is a Gmail notifer, although realistically, those who want this, probably already have a Firefox extension or a desktop widget for doing so.  A further feature is using Gmail to remote control your computer. Let me explain a little more about how it works. Sounds kinda scary, I know!

In GCALDaemon, you set a secret subject command, which GCAL will pick up on. You need to enable Gmails IMAP service for this to work. You create your script file (either BAT or SH), and save this in the location determined by GCAL. Say the name of the script is blah.bat. You send an email to your Gmail, with the secret subject line, and the content starting with the file name, blah, followed by any parameters. The super part is, any output will be emailed back to you, from your Gmail account. If that all sounds a bit confusing, there is an example on their website. Not knowing much about .bat files, I personally don’t use this function, but I can see how incredibly useful it is! Now you can control your computer by sending emails from your phone! How smart!

Conclusion : As I think this post has made clear, GCALDaemon has a lot of options to do a lot of different things. With calendar syncing and remote control via Gmail, its functions ranges from the average geek, to the super geek. Be prepared to see some clever stuff, without a pretty looking interface. Realistically, it works, and is a set and forget app. So what if it doesn’t look flash? It works in the background, which is one of the things that makes it grate. Set up to run as a service, there is no tray icon either. Heck, you’ll forget its running until you get a new computer, and ask the question, “Why isn’t this syncing with my Google Calendar”.

Question : Let us know how easy you find this? Does it work all the time for you? What else have you used this for?

Website : http://gcaldaemon.sourceforge.net
Download : PageDirect
Size : 8.11 MB

7 Responses to “GCALDaemon – Sync Google Calendar, Outlook, Rainlendar, iCal and Thunderbird”

  1. Lotus Notes Users also want sync with Gmail!!!

  2. I find this works pretty well, and wasn’t too difficult to setup. It does not work all the time though when using Categories for tasks in Rainlender2 synced up with google calender. I find my Category description goes from Health, Work, Travel (or whatever the options are) to “http://schemas.google.com/g/2005#event”. It’s problematic because I had some marked as “Important” and showing up red, and upon restarting it all it goes to that website for the category, and turns off the colouring. Maybe I’m doing something wrong?

  3. Thats interesting. I wasn’t even aware it could be used to sync tasks to gCal. I didn’t know there was a tasks thing from google!
    What your saying may be one of the limitations of the software, although I can’t say for sure. Have you tried contacting the author?

  4. Great site. very informative

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