When I created the Evernote To Google Calendar script I intended to solve a very specific need that I had. I use Evernote for Getting Things Done and needed a way to easily add reminders to my calendar from the EN client. Integrating the script with Gmail, Google Calendar and Evernote made the once tedious task surprisingly simple.
After I released the script I discovered that it is much more versatile and people have begun to use it in ways that I had not even considered. One mom for example was interested in using it to create a weekly menu by pushing her recipes from Evernote to her shared calendar.
That started me thinking about what other ways my script could be used for interfacing with Google Calendar. While I hastily named my script en2gcal intending that it would only be used with Evernote I think it would have been more aptly named gcal-appt. In essence the script will process any appointment or reminder sent from any source capable of sending email. In other words, you don’t have to use Evernote to use my script.
In this post I will show how you can turn emails that arrive in your inbox into Google Calendar appointments with reminders in a few easy steps.
To get started you’ll first need to perform the script and filter setup describe in my original post Add Evernote GTD Tasks to Google Calendar for Easy Reminders. Here is a brief list of the steps you’ll need to perform before continuing.
- Create a Gmail filter for the +EN address
- Create a new Google Drive script using en2gcal
- Set the script to run automatically
Add a new contact for the +word address
My original post described the little known plus (+) feature of all Gmail accounts. By tacking on a + followed by a series of letters you can create a nearly infinite number of unique email addresses that all get delivered to the same inbox.
For example you could turn email@example.com into firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or even firstname.lastname@example.org. No matter what word you add after the + sign all your emails still get delivered to the email@example.com inbox.
I use this feature quite a bit when I sign up for new services that require an email. For sending flowers thru FTD I use firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter email@example.com. This serves many purposes. It allows me to identify those companies that are selling my email address and it gives me the ability to easily filter out emails sent to that address if the spam becomes unwieldy.
The original post describes setting an address using +EN however you can use any +word that you’d like as long as you set the filter up to match the word that you chose.
Once you’ve established the +word address that you intend to use and have set up the filter it will come in handy to add that address to your Gmail contact list. Give it a very short name which will make it easy to type when you’re addressing an email. I will demonstrate its use in a bit.
Send existing email from your inbox to your Google Calendar
Now that the script, filter and contact are in place it’s time to put them all to use. When new email arrives in your inbox that you’d like to add to your calendar it is now as simple as forwarding that email to your +word address.
Here’s how it works.
When a new email arrives in your inbox that you’d like to add to the calendar click one of forward buttons. There are many ways to enter into Forward mode in Gmail. The image below highlights a few of them.
While in Forward mode it’s key that you have the ability to edit the subject line. Depending on how you have Gmail set up you may not see the Subject line or the new Compose popup. In my current configuration all I need to do is drop down the menu next to the To field and choose Edit Subject
Now that access to the Subject line is available, enter the title, date and reminders for the appointment you want to create.
In this example I’ve received an email from my accountant asking that we talk about my tax returns (yes, its that time of year again. Ugh!). I want to block off some time at 2pm today to give him a call and I want a pop up 15 reminder minutes before and an sms reminder 5 minutes before 2pm. I change the subject to Call Joe today at 2pm pop:15 sms:5.
You can get very creative with the way that you specify your appointment details. Check out the Script Parameters section of my original post for more details on what’s available.
We’re almost finished. The last step is to address the email and this is where the contact that you created comes in. Gmail is good at remembering and suggesting addresses that you’ve sent to previously but I like to rely on the short name that I gave my contact to address the email.
In my example I’ve created a contact using EN as the name. As soon as I type a E into the To field the contact associated with my +word address shows up and I select it.
The final step after the subject is entered and the email is addressed is to press the Send button. Then, you go about your other task and get politely reminded at 1:45 that you need to call Joe at 2pm.
Other uses for the email to appointment script
What I’ve demonstrated here shows use of Gmail for adding appointments based on emails that arrive in your Gmail inbox.
My script doesn’t limit you to Gmail. In fact, you can use any client capable of sending email such as Outlook or Thunderbird with this script. As long as you’re able to send an email to your +word address you can quickly add appointments.
And, you’re not even limited to forwarding existing emails. Say, you want to remind yourself to do something and want to add it to your calendar quickly. You can compose an email to your +word address yourself with the appointment details on the subject line. I’ve started to use this feature quite a bit from Outlook at work.
I’ve also considered putting together a Launchy Runner (similar to Quicksilver for your Mac folks) that allows me to create an appointment without even opening a mail client.
If you’re using the script in other creative ways I’d love to hear about it. Please add a comment describing how you’re using the script.
If you’re interested in Google Apps or Getting Things Done here are a few books that I recommend checking out.