Sync Facebook Events with your iPhone calendar

Update 2009-08-22: Two new(ish) changes to report! The first is that with the release of iPhone OS 3.0, it is now possible to subscribe to Internet calendars directly from the device. The second is that NuevaSync now offers a premium service which includes push e-mail and up to 50 calendars. I’ve updated my post accordingly.

Update 2009-02-26: I’ve added the steps to set up synchronization using Google Sync to the post.

Update 2009-02-14: Google now provides wireless synchronization capability directly. The instructions for setting it up are here.

nuevasyncI’ve been using a great free service called NuevaSync to wirelessly synchronize my Google calendar and contacts with my iPhone. It’s essentially a proxy to Google’s contacts and calendar services that allows you to synchronize them with any device that supports the Microsoft ActiveSync protocol, including the iPhone and Windows Mobile devices.

When the service first launched, you could only synchronize with Google calendars which you had read/write access to. Recently, however, they have enabled syncing with read-only calendars. This includes services which publish an iCal feed which you have subscribed to in Google Calendar. And since Facebook Events provides an iCal feed, you can subscribe to it in Google Calendar and have the events show up in your iPhone calendar.

Add your Facebook Events to Google Calendar

The first thing you need to do is subscribe to your Facebook Events iCal feed in Google Calendar. In the Facebook Events page, click on the “Export Events” link. It will display the link to the iCal feed. Right-click the link and copy it to the clipboard.

I’m assuming you have a Google account. If you don’t, you’ll need to get one. Open up Google Calendar and click on the “Add” link under “Other Calendars” on the left-hand side, then select “Add by URL”. Paste in the link you copied earlier and click “Add”.

Set up synchronization

Now you need to choose whether to synchronize using Google Sync or NuevaSync. The free version of NuevaSync allows you to sync up to eleven calendars, whereas Google Sync only allows five. For $25/year you can upgrade to the premium version of NuevaSync, which adds push e-mail (for Gmail, AOL or IMAP) and up to 50 calendars. More details about NuevaSync’s services are available here.

Note that your existing calendar and contacts will be erased when you set up synchronization. You can sync your address book with Google Contacts through iTunes to ensure that all your current contacts will be retained when you set up sync. You may be able to do the same with the calendar by syncing it with Outlook and syncing that with Google, but I haven’t explored this.

Option A: Set up Google Sync

The instructions to set up synchronization with Google Sync are here. Once you have completed that, go to http://m.google.com/sync on your iPhone, select your device from the list, and select the Facebook calendar, along with any other calendars you wish to sync.

Option B: Set up NuevaSync

First you will need to create an account on the NuevaSync site. Once you have done that, just follow their instructions for setting up synchronization on your device.

Once you’ve got your iPhone set up to synchronize with NuevaSync, go into the calendar setup on the NuevaSync status and setup page and check the box next to the Facebook calendar link. Your Facebook events will appear on your device shortly.

Alternate method: Subscribe to the iCal feed directly from the device

For most people, the method I document above is the best way to have your Facebook events show up on your iPhone’s calendar. The events will also show up on your Google Calendar, and it uses push synchronization to update your phone, which should improve battery life. If, however, you prefer not to sync your Google Calendar with your iPhone, or you already sync your iPhone with a corporate Exchange server, there is another way to do it. With the release of iPhone OS 3.0, it is now possible to subscribe to a calendar feed directly from the device. This blog post gives a great overview of the general process. For the Facebook event feed specifically:

  1. Visit the Facebook Events page
  2. Click “Export Events” at the top of the page
  3. Copy the URL and send it to yourself in an email
  4. Open the email on your iPhone and copy the link
  5. Go into Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account… > Other > Add Subscribed Calendar, paste the link into the Server text box and tap Next
  6. Change the description to “Facebook Events” (or whatever you like) and tap Save

26 thoughts on “Sync Facebook Events with your iPhone calendar”

  1. Here’s a question for you. Once the event is in my iPhone calendar (imported from facebook), it won’t let me erase the event. Any ideas on how I can erase it without having to go home and re-sync?

    Events have pirated my calendar now because I have a few events where ill informed friends have put month long events.

  2. I just tried erasing a Facebook event from my iPhone calendar and it seemed to work just fine. Were you getting an error of some kind?

    You should be aware that when you erase an item from a read-only calendar (like the Facebook events), it will erase it from the device, but not from your Google Calendar.

    I’m a bit confused about what you mean when you talk about having to “go home and re-sync” as well. This is wireless synchronization we’re talking about, it happens automatically.

  3. I am confused… it seems that, yes, my iPhone is syncing with my Google Calendar yet… not the one the FaceBook events are showing in. Am I missing something? am I supposed to somehow mesh the two calendars together? thanks!

  4. John: Assuming you’ve followed the instructions under “Adding Facebook Events to Google Calendar”, you just need to enable synchronization of that particular calendar. If you’re using Google Sync you need to go to http://m.google.com/sync, select your device, then choose which calendars to synchronize.

    I’ll edit my post to make that more clear.

  5. Because the iPhone offers a zillion apps and the 32gb version would enable me to sell my music-crammed iPod, I’ve been thinking about switching from my Palm Pre to a 32gb iPhone and using hacks like this to get past the iPhone’s limitations, but jeez, what a pain!!! The Pre automatically syncs and layers calendar and contact entries from Gmail, Exchange, and Facebook, automatically, instantly, over the air, without ever being physically being plugged in, without downloading any software — without me having to do a thing — and pulls email in real time to boot. Why the hell doesn’t an iPhone do the same? It is the age of the cloud, and Apple is trying to keep its users tethered to a host computer loaded with their iTunes bloatware. I was going to make the switch this weekend, but I’m looking at all the contortions necessary to sync and push everything in a similar way on an iPhone, and it hardly seems worth the trouble.

  6. Hi PondeRing,

    This post explains the steps to do almost exactly what you describe: to sync and layer calendars from Google and Facebook automatically, instantly, over the air, without ever being physically plugged in, without downloading any software.

    I do mention synchronizing your iPhone’s contact list using iTunes, but this is only necessary if you have contacts in your phone that are not in your Google address book since setting up ActiveSync synchronization erases all the existing contacts on your iPhone.

    I agree that having to use iTunes to manage music on the iPhone is a pain, but this is the only operation that requires plugging the device in to the computer.

    Note that with the release of iPhone OS 3.0, it is now possible to subscribe to CalDAV and ICS calendars directly from the device. I will update my post accordingly.

  7. This seems very straight forward so I can’t see what I’m doing wrong.

    I am doing exactly as described. I e-mailed the link from Facebook (Export Events) to myself, copied the link on my iPhone and pasted it in the server box under “Subscribed Calendars” in settings but the events do not appear on my iPhone calendar.

    I notice the link doesn’t end in *.ICS but when I try to open the link in my browser it resolves to a *.ICS file. Am I supposed to be using the link resolving in the *.ICS file somehow?

  8. Bryan: Not sure what to tell you. I just tried it on my own device and it seems to be working fine. Can you confirm you are in the “All Calendars” view on your phone?

  9. Yeah, even checked the Facebook calendar by itself and nothing. My next event isn’t until 10/16. Does it only sync events within a certain time period?

    Is there anything in the settings I should change from the the default? Username/password, SSL, alarms?

  10. Bryan: I’ve got an event on Nov. 24 showing up, so that can’t be the problem.

    All the other settings should be left at the default (no username/password, SSL off, Remove Alarms off).

    All this being said, I’ve been having issues with my Facebook events not syncing with my Google Calendar lately. I’m wondering if there may be an issue with Facebook’s calendar feeds.

  11. FB no longer has an export events link to grab the iCal address. Very sad. Someone should make them bring it back.

  12. with the facebook update, there is no longer an export link.
    you need to download the facebook app called fbCal.
    once you set it all up (make sure to select your timezone!) click on “add to google calendar” and copy that link, email it to yourself and add it to the subscribed calendars on your iphone.
    The app provides you with a birthday link as well.

    Works like a charm

    -Serge

  13. or, you can use an iPhone we developped:
    events2cal.com is the landing page,
    “Who does what” is the app’s name in iTunes.

    what it does: By default, sync all your Facebook events (RSVP=Yes only) to iCal.
    In Option: Sync your friends Facebook’s events to your iCal (hence the name “Who does what”).

    I developped this app for myself because the way you do it with “export” in FB is too tedious for me.

    then i figured i would sell it on apple Store…

    Cheers
    Erwan

  14. I just did it with my normal iphone calendar.. and it works perfectly 🙂 thank you for the advice:)

  15. I’ve managed, after several days of work, to get this working! Thanks for the detailed instructions. However, I’ve noticed two things…

    (1) Sometimes my Facebook events do not show up with the proper title. Instead, they show up on my phone as “New Event” even though they have a proper title on Facebook. This does not always happen, only sometimes. However, my iPhone does not seem to allow me to edit the name of the event even on my phone because it is “Read Only.” Is there a way to fix this?

    (2) My iPhone is also not letting me delete events after they have been synced if the event comes from my Facebook calendar (I’m guessing that this is also because it is “Read Only”?). Is there a way around this?

    Thanks!

  16. Sorry, but a final problem I’ve encountered…

    (3) New Facebook events are not always showing up on my calendar. One event I was invited to did successfully show up once I RSVPed, but another one has not (the latter one I had my wife create to test the functionality of syncing, and that one did not show up, while a “real” event that I was invited to has shown up). Why might this be?

  17. Hi Ed!

    I haven’t looked into the Facebook calendar event sync recently, but I’m glad my post was helpful.

    To answer your first question, I believe that Facebook events that appear as “New Event” are events that were set to “Private” by the event creator.

    I subscribe to my Facebook calendar directly within iOS (the “Alternate Method” I refer to in my post). When I do this, all events show up with the correct titles, whether or not they are private. However, in Google Calendar, private events show up as “busy”, and if I sync that Google calendar to my phone, it appears as “New Event”. I’m not sure why this is the case. You might want to try the “alternate method” yourself and see if that helps.

    To answer your second question, I don’t believe it’s possible to delete the Facebook events from your calendar. However, if you RSVP as “Not attending”, the event will disappear.

    As for your third question, it does take some time for events to appear. Perhaps you just didn’t wait long enough! I’ve found Facebook’s calendar feed to be a bit flaky occasionally, so you might try again later.

    Hope this helps!

  18. Hello my iPhone 4 is ok with the sync procedure for events and fb birthdays, BUT it shows ONLY public events (NOT the private ones). Any (working) suggestions on how to have them displayed as well???

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