I use Google Calendar a lot and over the years I have been amazed at how many simple but powerful tools are built into the facility.

If you are familiar with Google Docs and Gmail you know there are many powerful bolt on goodies lurking underneath the bonnet so you have probably have sat in front of the monitor with the Calendar app staring at you and probably thought: “What can this little sucker do?” To help you on your way to Google Calendar Nirvana here are some hot tips.

– Change your views: Once you’re logged into Google Calendar, you can easily switch between day, week, month, and other views by clicking the tabs along the top of the calendar. The tab marked ‘Next 4 Days’ may seem arbitrary, but it’s a great feature. You can customise the tab to display your preferred time period, from two days to four weeks. Click Settings in the upper right corner of the screen (or press s), and then scroll down to ‘Custom view’ on the General tab. Choose an option from the drop-down list and click Save.

– Easy entries: Google Calendar provides a couple of easy ways to add items: One way is to click Quick Add in the upper left area of the calendar page (or press q) and start typing. Google Calendar assumes that words such as “Monday” and “Wednesday” refer to days of the current week; and adds the item to the appropriate day. Another approach is to click a day or time in the main calendar and to start typing in the box that opens. Google Calendar recognises most expressions of time such as 7:00 PM, 7p, etc, and it schedules the associated calendar events accordingly.

– Colour coding: Give the text of each of your calendars a custom colour by using the pop-up menu to the right of the calendar name or you can use the checkbox to the left of the name to show or hide events on that calendar. This colour-coding makes all of the entries for a given calendar easy to identify at a glance.

– Add events from Gmail: One of the features of Gmail is that it includes some basic language processing that recognises event-related information. If it finds some, it will give you an option to add it to your calendar. Simply click on the link and you can edit the event and send it right to your calendar.

– Access your calendar remotely: Link your phone with GCal and when you’re on the road and can’t hook up your laptop you can still get your schedule sent to you. Text “next” to 48368 to get your next day’s schedule sent right to your phone. Once you’ve registered your phone number with Google Calendar, you can use it for common calendar chores. For example, get information from your phone by sending a text message to 48368 (GVENT): Enter next to get the next scheduled item on your calendar, day (to get all the day’s agenda, or nday to get tomorrow’s agenda.

– Set up email event reminders: Never forget an important meeting or to pick up your food shopping. With Google Calendar you can have your events emailed, texted, pop-up, or sent as SMS to you directly. Just set up reminders under Settings-Notifications.

– Put your meeting on the map: Put your address in the “Where” field in Event details. Recipients will have a link to a map to show them where the meeting is to take place.

– Use a RSS reader to track your events: Link it with HTML under “Calendar address.” It is that easy.

– Sync your calendar: The best tool I have found for linking an Outlook calendar with Google Calendar is Calgoo Connect which is free and works – which is more than can be said for Google’s own sync service. If you own a Symbian phone then GoogaSync is highly recommended.