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Make multiple calendar entries private in Outlook

Before starting my job with IT Training, I had my personal and professional calendar organized using a Palm Pilot m125. I bought it for myself in 2001, and have been using it for everything since then. Since replacements were cheap and easy to find on eBay, and I had my data synced with my office computer, I saw no immediate reason to change. The fact that I didn’t need to share my calendar with anyone made a big difference.

Here at IT Training, we use Microsoft Outlook and the Exchange server to share calendar information. I decided to try importing my Palm Pilot calendar into Outlook – and much to my surprise, it actually worked. However, in a way it worked too well. I wasn’t necessarily pleased to see every last activity in my life for the past 10 years show up in Outlook! Ok, I thought, I wouldn’t mind holding on to this information (you never know when it might come in handy) – but I’d prefer to keep it private.  The question became: Can I make multiple items “private” at the same time, or am I stuck opening each and every one and making them private in turn? I just couldn’t commit to doing this 5000 times in a row.  There had to be an easier way.

My initial search for a solution yielded some VBA programming code that was designed to change *all* appointments to private, but that still wasn’t the solution I wanted… many of my calendar items after April 2011 I wanted my coworkers to see.  Manually changing all of the more recent items back from private to public wasn’t that much more appealing than manually changing the old ones to private. As I was reading sites that suggested VBA code to change multiple items at once, I noticed in the comments a few references to simply “dragging and dropping” from one category to another.  After some deep digging in the Outlook help files, I was finally able to recreate it.  Here’s the step by step procedure, for those of you (like me) that were baffled by opaque references to “list view” options that will allow dragging and dropping multiple items at once.

  • Within Outlook 2010, click on Calendar
  • Click on View tab in the ribbon
  • In the “Current View” group, click on “Change View”
  • From among the drop-down options, choose “List”
    A screen capture of the View tab, indicating how to change view to list
  • In the Arrangement group, click “Add Columns” and make sure that Sensitivity is one of the columns that are shown. If not, choose it from the Available Columns list and click Add. Make sure any other details you might need to see are shown; consider removing those you don’t need right now, so that all of the relevant information fits without having to scroll. Close the dialog box.
    Screen capture of "show columns" dialog box, with Sensitivity highlighted
  • Now, you can choose to sort your items by any category; we want to sort by Sensitivity. Right click on the column header “Sensitivity” and choose “Group by this field.” Your private items and public items will be listed under two different headings.
  • Highlight the items that you want to make private. In my case, this was everything before April 2011; given that there were literally thousands of items, I chose to click the first, scroll down to the last item, and then shift-click it.
  • Make sure that the items that are marked “Private” are visible on your screen; drag and drop the highlighted items into the “Private” group. In a matter of seconds, all these items are changed from “Public” to “Private” in one fell swoop! No selecting each item one by one to change the sensitivity setting.  Phew!

This same view lets you edit multiple entries at once for all sorts of things… categories, locations, start or end times, etc.  Very handy!


4 Responses to "Make multiple calendar entries private in Outlook" to “Make multiple calendar entries private in Outlook”

  1. WheelN Says:

    Thanks for this thorough explanation! After much searching dead ends – this finally did the trick and saved me lots of time. Happy New Year!

  2. Kim Murday Says:

    So glad it helped you!

  3. Reinhard Says:

    Kim,

    You saved my day. I had the exact problem and with your method converting several thousands of entries worked like a charme.

    Rgds
    Reinhard

  4. Kim Murday Says:

    Excellent! Glad to be of help.

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