What is an .ics file?

An ics file is an iCalendar file, or more official, an Internet Calendaring and Scheduling Core Object Specification file according to the RFC 5545 (latest iteration RFC 7986) open, unified standard. To make it even more confusing, such a calendar entry file can have many different extensions, e.g. .ical, .ics, .ifb, .icalendar, or even .vcs. All these files do the same though, and the different extensions are the result of the various (proprietary) programs and operating systems that use them.

But... Putting all these technical details aside, bottom line is that an ics file is a generic calendar file, which allows you to import your important meeting, flight, call, or any other event you don't want to forget, into your personal calendar. Whatever your specific calendar or operating system is...


So how do I get this appointment into my calendar?

Well, here the confusion starts, since this depends on the operating system and calendar software you use. As we all know, an Android phone is not the same as an iPhone, and your Doodle Calendar feed or Google Calendar is different from the iCal/ Apple Calendar on your Mac, or your Microsoft Outlook calendar.
And this is where ics comes to the rescue...

With so many calendar applications around, and a plethora of versions of the same application on top of that, it's futile to try cover them all. Nevertheless, I have tried to capture the ics import procedure for the most used calendars in the table below.
(Do not forget that often a simple double-click or drag-and-drop also works!)

Apple Mac, iPad
  1. In the Calendar app on your Apple device, choose File.
  2. Click Import
  3. Select the ics file, then click Import.
  4. Choose the calendar to add the event to.
Do not forget that you can also simply drag and drop the previously saved ics calendar file to Calendar!
GNOME Evolution
  1. Save the ics file/ attachment to your preferred location.
  2. File > Import.
  3. Choose Next and Import a single file.
  4. Select the ics file you saved to disk before.
  5. If you have multiple calendars, you'll be prompted which calendar to import the .ics file into.
Google Calendar
  1. Save the ics file/ attachment to your preferred location.
  2. Open your Google Calendar.
  3. In the top right, click Settings.
  4. Open the Calendars tab.
  5. Click Import calendars between the My calendars and Other Calendars sections.
  6. Click Choose File and select the ics file you saved previously.
  7. Choose which calendar to add the imported event to. By default, events will be imported into your primary calendar.
  8. Click Import
iPhone
  1. Press the iPhone’s Home button below the device’s multi-touch display.
  2. Tap the Mail icon on the home screen.
  3. Tap the name of an email account to view its messages.
  4. Tap the email message that has the attached ics calendar file.
  5. Tap the ics file name in the email message window. A list of events appears.
  6. Tap Add All, and then tap the calendar to which you want to add the ics calendar file events.
  7. Tap Done.
  8. Press the Home button, and then the Calendar icon on the iPhone’s home screen to access your newly imported ics calendar events.
Microsoft Outlook Desktop
  1. Save the ics file/ attachment to your preferred location.
  2. Open Microsoft Outlook and go to File.
  3. Select Open.
  4. Click Import.
  5. When prompted select Import an iCalendar (.ics) or vCalendar file (.vcs).
  6. Click Next.
  7. When prompted, navigate to the ics file that you saved to your computer.
  8. Click OK.
  9. When prompted, click Import.
  10. The dates from the ics file will now be imported into your selected Outlook Calendar.
Microsoft Office 365 (outlook.com)
  1. Save the ics file/ attachment to your preferred location.
  2. Sign into outlook.com.
  3. At the bottom of the page, select Calendar/ the Calendar icon.
  4. In the navigation pane, select Import calendar.
  5. Under Import calendar, select From file.
  6. Under Import from file, select Browse.
  7. Choose the ics file.
  8. Select Open.
  9. Under Import to, select the calendar that you want the file imported to.
  10. Select Import.
(Microsoft states specifically that it can not guarantee, nor is responsible for the compatibility, accuracy, or content of any non-Microsoft, third-party calendar applications.)
Mozilla Thunderbird
  1. Save the ics file/ attachment to your preferred location.
  2. From main menu bar, click Events and Tasks > Import.
  3. Select the ics file you saved to disk before.
  4. If you have multiple calendars, you'll be prompted which calendar to import the .ics file into.
OS X
  1. Launch iCal.
  2. Click File menu.
  3. Choose Import.
  4. Click the Import an iCal file button.
  5. Click Import to open a file browser dialog box.
  6. Navigate to and select your ics file to open the Add Events dialog box.
  7. Click a calendar, then click OK to import the ics file's events.

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