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Get to know your Outlook Calendar

Appointment in calendar - Show Time As shortcut menu showing Free, Tentative, Busy, and Out of Office commands for changing how time appears to others; scheduling tab of a meeting request showing free/busy time for Amy Rusko, Shu Ito, and Eli Bowen

Fig. 1  The white border of the all day event means the time appears as free, solid blue means busy, and purple indicates out of office. To change how time appears in your calendar:
Callout 1 Select the entry and right-click to open the shortcut menu. (When you select the entry, the border will appear around the entire entry.)
Callout 2 On the shortcut menu, point to Show Time As.
Callout 3 Select a setting. Here we're switching from Busy to Tentative.
Fig. 2  If your company uses Microsoft Exchange Server, you'll be able to see free/busy time on the Scheduling tab of an open meeting. In this picture, Amy Rusko is trying to set up a meeting with Shu Ito and Eli Bowen. As you can see from the colored horizontal bars, at 11:00 A.M. Shu is out of the office and Eli already has something tentatively scheduled.

The border color of a calendar entry indicates whether the time for that item is scheduled as free, busy, tentative, or out of office. You'll see the border color in your own calendar and you can change it, as we've shown in Figure 1. By default, appointments and meetings are entered as busy, and all day events are entered as free.

Free/busy time

If your company uses Microsoft Exchange Server for its e-mail system, people in your organization automatically share information about their schedules. You can get an idea of what this looks like by viewing Figure 2. In Outlook this is referred to as sharing free/busy time. The border of a calendar entry indicates how others will see it when they check your free/busy information — for example, when they try to set up a meeting with you.

Note that if you change the Show Time As setting for a meeting for which you're simply an attendee (that is, for a meeting that you've been invited to as opposed to a meeting that you set up), your change will be overwritten if the organizer updates the meeting. For more on this, see Organize meetings with Outlook.

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