IT Connect
Your connection to information technology at the UW

Best practices for using the Exchange Online calendar

Tips on selecting and setting up email/calendaring software

Use the Outlook Web App or the Outlook desktop program

The Outlook clients are the only way to use all of the features in Exchange, and they are the best way to avoid problems with Exchange.  You can download Office, which includes the desktop version of Outlook from our Office 365 ProPlus page.

Links for instructions on configuring the desktop version of Outlook are available on our email client configuration page.

For acceptable performance, always use Outlook in cached mode

Note that Outlook 2016 for Mac does not have a switch to turn cached mode, it is always on.

For instructions on turning on cached mode for PC versions of Outlook, see the Microsoft article Turn on Cached Exchange Mode.

Mobile devices create the most problems

They are best used for reference only. You can set up personal appointments on a mobile device, but propose or accept meeting invitations on your computer. In general, the more complicated or more detailed the task, the more important it is for you to use Outlook or the Outlook Web App.

Keep your software up-to-date

Vendors fix problems such as synchronization issues with their email/calendar clients. Some of the fixes have had major impact. Apply all updates to your email/calendar clients for your computer and mobile device.

Check time zone settings

Each email/calendar client has a time and a time zone. They apply that time zone to meetings you set up, and the email/calendar clients of people you invite will try to match that to their own time zones. Mismatched time zones can end up with inaccurate meeting times.

Make sure that your email/calendar client is showing the correct time and has the correct time zone. Sometimes the email/calendar client has a time zone setting in addition to the operating system’s time zone. Make sure those are both in agreement.

Mobile devices have time zones, and sometimes they change the time zone automatically as you travel. Make sure that your email/calendar client knows when Daylight Saving Time starts and stops.

Limit the number of calendars in the My Calendars folder

To improve Outlook performance, limit the number of calendars in the My Calendars folder. Outlook synchronizes these calendars while Outlook is running. If you have a shared calendar that is not heavily used, move it to the Other Calendars folder.

Calendar Sharing with Mac OS X

You must extend Reviewer permissions to others with whom you want to share your calendar. The default Free/Busy time permissions are valid only within the Availability Panel. They are not available within the context of viewing a shared calendar.

Tips for keeping meeting updates synchronized

When a meeting appears on your calendar and a coworker’s calendar, you might assume that there is a single calendar entry, but this is not the case. In fact, each person’s calendar has a copy of the meeting. As invitations, updates, and cancellations are processed, the item on each calendar is updated.  As long as all participants receive every change to each meeting, each calendar entry gets the same updates. If one update is missed, the copies no longer look identical.

  • As a meeting organizer, send all updates to all recipients. Calendar updates are sent by email messages. Make sure that everyone sees the same view of a meeting by sending and processing every update. Outlook, Outlook Web App (OWA), and some other email/calendar clients give you the option to notify only the attendees that you’ve added or removed. Don’t use that option. Include a note about what the change is with each update, so attendees are informed, and so that they don’t skip updates that they think they have already seen.
  • As a meeting attendee, accept or decline every meeting invitation. If you simply delete them, you may miss important changes to the meeting. If you accidentally skip one, go back into your Deleted Items folder and accept it.

Do not directly edit a resource

You may have permissions set up so that you can directly edit a resource calendar (meeting room). Do not use that method to reserve meeting rooms. Instead, invite the resource to the meeting by using the Rooms button. Check the Scheduling Assistant to be sure the resource is available. If the room is booked, find another room that’s available, then send the invitation. Make sure you get an acknowledgment from the resource that the invitation has been accepted.

Tips on delegating your calendar

By establishing a delegate relationship with another Exchange user, you are allowing that user to create, accept, and reject meetings on your behalf. You should set up a delegate relationship only if you want someone else to manage your calendar for you. It is not necessary to have a delegate to do ordinary scheduling (that is, for setting up meetings and allowing others to see your calendar or your Free/Busy status). Most users do not need delegates. If you do have a delegate you should have only one (with edit permission) at a time.

For more information on establishing delegate relationships, see the following articles from Microsoft:

Have only one person manage your calendar

If your assistant creates and accepts meetings for you, let them do it for all meetings. Don’t make or accept meetings on your own. This leads to more consistent, predictable scheduling. Try to have no more than one delegate who can update your calendar. And try to have everyone involved use the same email/calendar client when updating and viewing the calendar.

Tips on setting up recurring meetings

Use the recurring meeting feature only if the meeting time and place are always the same

If you use the recurring meeting feature for a meeting that has a different time or location each week, you’re likely to start seeing problems. Each exception to a meeting series is stored in the meeting notifications that are sent to all participants. As those lists of exceptions get longer and longer, errors creep in and schedules get out of sync. Keep your repeating meetings simple and predictable.

If you need to change the time or location for one date in a recurring meeting, cancel that occurrence of the meeting and send out a new invitation for the alternate time as a single, nonrecurring meeting. Send out the weekly agenda as a separate mail item, not as a meeting update.

Limit the number of occurrences of repeating meetings. A good guideline would be to stay under 20. Thus, a meeting that repeats weekly might be setup for a quarter (3 months, or about14 weeks) but not for an entire year (52 weeks).

Additional information from Microsoft