How to check someone else’s schedule in Outlook

You can quickly check via Microsoft 365, Office 365, or Exchange on any platform to see if people are available for a meeting you want to set up — and avoid the email swarm around who’s free when.

“Is everyone free Thursday at 10am? If not, when you are free for our new-project meeting?”

If that’s how you figure out when to schedule meetings with your colleagues, there’s a better way built into Office 365, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Exchange platforms, which most businesses use. Best of all, it works on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, and not just in the Microsoft Outlook client.

The specific steps vary based on your calendar app, so I’ll show you how to check people’s availability in the various Outlook apps (including the web app) as well as in the Apple Calendar apps for macOS and iOS, which support Office 365, Microsoft 365 and Exchange servers if allowed by IT. (The Google Calendar and Samsung Calendar Android clients don’t work with Office 365, Microsoft 365 or Exchange.)

Do note that all invitees need to be using the same Office 365, Microsoft 365 or Exchange system, since that platform is where all calendar information is stored. For people outside your organization, you’ll have to use the old-fashioned “are you free this Thursday at 10am?” approach (sorry!). You can share calendar invites across different organizations — even with users of other platforms like Google G Suite — but you can’t check schedules outside your internal organization.

The basic process is the same across the calendar clients:

  1. Create a new meeting.
  2. Add people to the meeting invitation list but don’t yet send out the invitation.
  3. Check the invitees’ schedules and if needed adjust the meeting day and time to a mutually free time, or at least know who would need to cancel their other meetings or would be double-booked and have to decide whether to attend.
  4. Send out the meeting invitation.

The specifics can vary significantly, though. Use the links in the left margin or below to jump to the instructions for your app.

Check schedules in Outlook for Windows

First, create a meeting using one of these methods:

  • Click the New Meeting icon in the ribbon and then choose the New Meeting option
  • Click New Appointment (if the ribbon is hidden)
  • Right-click within the calendar and choose New Meeting Request from the contextual menu that appears

If you click New Appointment or choose New Meeting Request, you have to take the extra step of clicking the Invite Attendees button in the event window’s ribbon.

In the event window that appears, fill in the meeting title in the Meeting tab. Add the invitees in the Required and Optional fields by typing in their names to have Outlook look them up for you. Or click the respective Required and Optional buttons to the left of the fields to look up people from the Office 365, Microsoft 365 or Exchange contacts database; double-click a name to add it, then search for others; when done, click OK.

outlook scheduling windows 1 IDG

Start a meeting invitation in Outlook for Windows. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Select the date, start time and end time you have in mind for the meeting, and optionally enter a location. You can designate the meeting as a Teams or Skype for Business meeting using the Skype Meeting button in the ribbon — the meeting will be held in whichever Microsoft conferencing tool your organization uses.

Tip: If you use Office 365, Microsoft 365 or Exchange to manage conference room availability, use the Room Finder button in the main event window to add a room to the invitation, or use the Required button or field to invite a room by its name.

Now go to the Scheduling Assistant tab. The window changes to show each invitee and their availability over a period of time. Their other meetings and appointments are highlighted in violet. Your proposed meeting time is shown as a blue rectangle overlapping all the schedules.

outlook scheduling windows 2 IDG

Use Outlook's Scheduling Assistant to find a meeting time that works for all attendees. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Look for open times — those that are not violet — for your invitees and click in free area to move the meeting to a free time. You can also lengthen or shorten the meeting by dragging one of the sides to the desired time. Or just change the meeting settings in the Start time and End time fields.

Tip: if you didn’t make a conference room an invitee in the previous step, click Add Room to invite it here. You’ll see that room in the Rooms section of the window, so you can also see when it is free. (Click Room Finder in the ribbon to see what conference rooms exist in Office 365, Microsoft 365 or Exchange.)

When you’ve found the best schedule for your meeting, go the Meetings tab, type in a note to the invitees, and send out the invite by clicking the Send button in the upper left of the event window.

Check schedules in Outlook for web

First, create a meeting: If you’re not already in Calendar view, click the calendar icon in the lower-left corner of the screen, then click the New event button at the upper left of the window or just double-click in the calendar at the desired date and time.

(Note: Not all Outlook for web features work in Apple’s Safari browser, but the scheduling controls for calendars do.)

In the event window that appears, fill in the meeting title , add the invitees, select the date and start/end times you have in mind, and optionally add a location and/or designate the meeting as a Teams or Skype for Business meeting using the Add online meeting menu.

Tip: If you use Office 365, Microsoft 365 or Exchange to manage conference room availability, be sure to invite the desired room to the meeting via the Search for a room or location field.

outlook scheduling web 1 IDG

Start a meeting invitation in Outlook on the web. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Now click the Scheduling Assistant button at the top of the event window. The window changes to show each invitee and their availability over a period of time. Their other meetings and appointments are highlighted in blue. Your proposed meeting time is shown as a green rectangle overlapping all the schedules.

outlook scheduling web 2 IDG

Use Outlook's Scheduling Assistant to find a meeting time that works for all attendees. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Look for open times — those that are not blue — for your invitees and slide the meeting to a free time. You can also lengthen or shorten the meeting by dragging one of the sides to the desired time. Or just change the meeting settings in the Date, Start, and End fields.

Tip: if you didn’t make a conference room an invitee in the previous step, click Add a room to invite it here. You’ll see that room in the Rooms section of the window, so you can also see when it is free.

When you’ve found the best schedule for your meeting, click Done at the top of the window to return to the meeting-details window; add a note about the meeting to your invitees and click Send at the top of the window to send out the meeting invitation.

Check schedules in Outlook for macOS

First, create a meeting using one of these methods:

  • Click the Meeting button in the ribbon
  • Choose File > New > Meeting
  • Right-click within the calendar and choose New Meeting from the contextual menu that appears

In the event window that appears, add the invitees in the To field, fill in the meeting subject, and optionally add a location. If your meeting will be a Teams or Skype for Business call, designate it as such using the Skype Meeting or Teams Meeting button. (Your organization might not have both options.)

Tip: If you use Office 365, Microsoft 365 or Exchange to manage conference room availability, invite the desired room to the meeting in the To field; it will automatically be entered in the Location field.

outlook scheduling macos 1b IDG

Start a meeting invitation in Outlook for macOS. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Now click the Scheduling button in the ribbon. The window changes to show each invitee and their availability over a period of time. Their other meetings and appointments are highlighted in blue. Your proposed meeting time is shown as a blue rectangle overlapping all the schedules.

outlook scheduling macos 2 IDG

Use Outlook's scheduling tool to find a meeting time that works for all attendees. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Look for open times — those that are not blue — for your invitees and slide the meeting to a free time. You can also lengthen or shorten the meeting by dragging one of the sides to the desired time. Or just change the meeting settings in the Duration, Starts, and Ends fields.

Tip: if you didn’t make a conference room an invitee in the previous step, click Add Room to invite it here. You’ll see that room in the Rooms section of the window, so you can also see when it is free. (Click Room Finder in the ribbon to see what conference rooms exist in Office 365, Microsoft 365 or Exchange.)

When you’ve found the best schedule for your meeting, click Appointment in the ribbon to return to the main message view. Type in a message to the invitees, then send out the invite by clicking Send in the ribbon or choosing Meeting > Send.

Check schedules in Outlook for iOS

First, create a meeting: Go to the Calendar view (by clicking the calendar icon in the lower right corner), then tap the + button at the top of the screen.

In the event window that appears, fill in the meeting title.

Next add the invitees in the People window, which you open by tapping People. In the People window, you can search for people and select from those you’ve previously invited to other meetings. Tap ✓ when done adding invitees; you are returned to the event window.

outlook scheduling ios 1 IDG

Start a meeting invitation (left) and add attendees (right) in Outlook for iOS. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Skip over the Date and Time sections for now; we’ll go back to those in a moment. You can optionally add a location and/or designate the meeting as a Skype for Business or Teams meeting using the Skype Meeting slider — the meeting will be held in whichever Microsoft conferencing tool your organization uses.

Tip: If you use Office 365, Microsoft 365 or Exchange to manage conference room availability, you can add the room by tapping Location and then searching for the desired room by name or choosing from a list that appears automatically. Tap a room to add it; you are returned to the event window.

Now go back to the Date and Time section of the event details. Set the date you have in mind for the meeting and click the Time area. The window changes to show a calendar view for the initial event time.

outlook scheduling ios 2med IDG

Drag the meeting up or down to find a time with no conflicts for attendees. (Click image to enlarge it.)

The event is red if it conflicts with any of the invitees’ schedules and is green if it is in a time that is free for all invitees. At the bottom of the screen are icons for each attendee (including the conference room, if you designated one), with a green check mark if their schedule is open for the proposed meeting time and with a red X if there is a conflict; that’s how you know who has a conflict.

What you cannot do is see when everyone is free; you have to drag the event until it turns green. You can also adjust the start and end times, and thus the event duration, by dragging the handles at the top and bottom of the event. Note that you can’t drag the meeting to a different day; if you can’t find a time that works, click the 00:00 icon in the top left corner and choose another day.

Tap ✓ when you’re done adjusting the meeting schedule to a mutually free time; you are returned to the event window.

When you’ve found the best schedule for your meeting, add a description by tapping Description, typing a brief note and tapping ✓, and then send out the invite by tapping ✓ in the event window.

Check schedules in Outlook for Android

First, create a meeting: Go to the Calendar view (by clicking the calendar icon in the lower-right corner), then tap the + button at the lower right of the screen.

In the event window that appears, fill in the meeting title. Next add the invitees in the Add People window, which you open by tapping People. In the People window, you can search for people by typing part of their name. Tap ✓ when done adding invitees; you are returned to the event window.

outlook scheduling android 1 IDG

Start a meeting invitation (left) and add attendees (right) in Outlook for Android. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Skip over the Date and Time sections for now; we’ll go back to those in a moment. You can optionally add a location and/or designate the meeting as a Skype for Business or Teams meeting using the Skype Meeting slider — the meeting will be held in whichever Microsoft conferencing tool your organization uses.

Tip: If you use Microsoft 365 or Exchange to manage conference room availability, you can add the room by tapping Location and then searching for the desired room by name. Tap ✓ when done adding a room; you are returned to the event window.

Now go back to the Date and Time section of the event details. Set the date you have in mind for the meeting and click the Time area. The window changes to show a calendar view for the initial event time.

outlook scheduling android 2med IDG

Drag the meeting up or down to find a time with no conflicts for attendees. (Click image to enlarge it.)

The event is red if it conflicts with any of the invitees’ schedules and is green if it is in a time that is free for all invitees. At the bottom of the screen are icons for each attendee (including the conference room, if you designated one), with a green check mark if their schedule is open for the proposed meeting time and with a red X if there is a conflict; that’s how you know who has a conflict.

What you cannot do is see when everyone is free; you have to drag the event until it turns green. You can also adjust the start and end times, and thus the event duration, by dragging the handles at the top and bottom of the event. Note that you can’t drag the meeting to a different day; if you can’t find a time that works, click the 00:00 icon in the top right corner and choose another day.

Tap ✓ when you’re done adjusting the meeting schedule to a mutually free time; you are returned to the event window.

When you’ve found the best schedule for your meeting, add description by tapping Description, typing a brief note and tapping ✓, and then send out the invite by tapping ✓ in the event window.

Check schedules in Apple Calendar for macOS

First, create a meeting: Choose File > New > Meeting, or right-click within the calendar and choose New Meeting from the contextual menu that appears.

In the event pane that appears, fill in the meeting subject and (optionally) location, then add the invitees in the Add Invitees field. Apple Calendar often closes that new-event pane when you move the mouse, so you may need to double-click the event to reopen the pane. (Note: You cannot designate the meeting as a Skype for Business or Teams meeting via Apple Calendar.)

Tip: If you use Office 365, Microsoft 365 or Exchange to manage conference room availability, be sure to invite the desired room to the meeting in the Add Invitees field as well. Each room is available as if it were a person you can invite, but you must know its name to look it up.

apple calendar scheduling macos 1 IDG

Start a meeting invitation in Apple Calendar for macOS. (Click image to enlarge it.)

After you add the first invitee, the Check Availability button appears. Click it after you’ve added all your invitees. A new window opens to show each invitee and their availability over a period of time. Their other meetings and appointments are highlighted in gray. Your proposed meeting time is shown as a red-shaded rectangle overlapping all the schedules.

apple calendar scheduling macos 2 IDG

Use Apple Calendar's scheduling tool to find a meeting time that works for all attendees. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Look for open times — those that are not gray — for your invitees. Calendar highlights all free time blocks with pink rectangles, so you can quickly identify free times. It also lets you restrict the calendar to your work hours (which you set up via Calendar > Preferences) and navigate the scheduling window to other days.

Slide the meeting to a free time and click Done. You can also change the meeting date and time, as well as lengthen or shorten the meeting, using the event pane’s standard scheduling controls.

When you’ve found the best schedule for your meeting, you can optionally add a note to the invitees, then send out the invite by clicking Send in the event pane.

Check schedules in Apple Calendar for iOS

First, create a meeting: Click the + button at the top of the screen.

In the event window that appears, fill in the meeting title and location. (Note: You cannot designate the meeting as a Skype for Business or Teams meeting via Apple Calendar.) Select a date and start time in the Starts field, as well as an end time in the Ends field.

apple calendar scheduling ios 1 IDG

Start a meeting invitation (left) and add attendees (right) in Apple Calendar for iOS. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Now add the invitees in the Add Invitees window, which you open by tapping Invitees toward the bottom of the event window (you’ll need to scroll down). In the Add Invitees window, you search for people and select from those you’ve previously invited to other meetings. Click Done when done adding invitees; you are taken to the Invitees window.

apple calendar scheduling ios 2med IDG

The Invitees screen lists those you've invited, notes conflicts, and suggests times that work for everyone. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Tip: If you use Office 365, Microsoft 365 or Exchange to manage conference room availability, be sure to invite the desired room to the meeting in the Add Invitee window as well; you’ll need to know the room’s name to find it.

In addition to listing all the invitees, the Invitees window shows you if there is a scheduling conflict. It also shows a list of free times in the All Invitees Can Attend section. By default, the first available time is shown; click Show More to see the full list.

Below that in the Some Invitees Can Attend section, you also see free times for individuals who have schedule conflicts, such as to adjust the schedule for those who must attend while letting the others maintain a schedule conflict. Select the desired new time by tapping it.

Tap New Event at the top left of the screen to complete the scheduling; you are returned to the event window. Click Add at the top right of the screen to send out the invite.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon