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Free/Busy Settings in Office 365 Calendar

With Office 365 calendar, people can schedule you for meetings using what's called your "free/busy" times.

Your free/busy times are shown when someone invites you to a meeting they are scheduling. The meeting proposer can see your free/busy times in the Scheduling Assistant (Outlook or Outlook Web Access) or on the Scheduling tab (Entourage). 

A color-coded grid shows this information:

  • Tentative - something is scheduled on your calendar, but it's OK to schedule another meeting then
  • Busy - something is scheduled on your calendar
  • Out of Office - you've blocked time on your calendar and tagged it as "Out of Office"
  • No information - your calendar information is not available

Free/Busy grid in Outlook Web Access Premium (Windows IE)

If you're happy providing that level of information to other calendar users, you don't need to take any steps. Your Office 365 calendar comes set up that way.

 Special Accounts

The steps for sharing a Resource Account or sharing an Exchange Group Account (EGA) calendar are different.

If you would like everyone, or just some people, to see more details about your Office 365 calendar, you have a few options. 

  1. You can adjust your free/busy settings (see below). 
  2. You can share your calendar, so other people can open it just like they can open their own calendar.
  3. You can delegate your calendar, so other people can manage it just like you can.

Adjust Your Free/Busy Settings

To adjust your free/busy settings, you have to use Outlook or Entourage. These options are not available in Outlook Web Access or iCal.

If you don't normally use Outlook or Entourage, you can use either one just once just to adjust these settings. Your changes will be stored on the Office 365 system. The IT Service Desk has a computer you can use to adjust these settings.

These steps are for your own Office 365 calendar. See the box on the right for information about sharing Exchange Group Account calendars or Resource Accounts.


Outlook Free/Busy Settings

  1. In Outlook, in the Navigation Pane, click Calendar.
  2. Below the heading My Calendars, you’ll see the entry Calendar. That’s the entry we’ll be working with in the following steps.
  3. Right-click Calendar. From the menu that appears, click Change Sharing Permissions. A Calendar Properties dialog box will open with the Permissions tab displayed.
  4. Decide whether to change the setting for everyone at Cornell, or just some people.
  • To change the setting for everyone at Cornell, click Default and skip ahead to Step 7. (Do not, for any reason, delete this entry. Deleting it will cause errors.)
  • To change the setting for certain people, click Add and continue with Step 5.
  1. In the Add Users dialog box, type all or part of the person’s name, then click Go.
  2. Highlight their name in the resulting list, click Add, then click OK. You should now see their name displayed in the Calendar Properties dialog box.
  3. From the Permission Level drop-down list, select the desired level of access.
  • Free/Busy time - in the Scheduling Assistant, a meeting proposer can see whether you're busy, tentatively busy, or out of the office. This is the default setting for Cornell.
  • Free/Busy time, subject, location - in the Scheduling Assistant, a meeting proposer can see the time, subject, and location of the items on your calendar
  • None - (NOT RECOMMENDED) - in the Scheduling Assistant, the person will see "no information" displayed; this setting won't stop you from being invited to meetings
  1. Click OK.

Entourage Free/Busy Settings

CIT discontinued support for Entourage on May 31, 2012.
To continue with a supported email and calendar client, Entourage users need to upgrade to Outlook 2011 for Mac. Both are free for Cornell faculty, staff, and affiliates. (See our software licensing agreement for details.)

  1. In Entourage, click Calendar in the toolbar.
  2. In the Navigation Pane, right-click (or ctrl-click) Calendar.
    An item labeled Calendar will likely appear in more than one place on your Navigation Pane. You want the one listed under your account on the Office 365 server. This is probably the first group listed in the Navigation Pane. It's definitely NOT in the one in the On My Computer section.
  3. From the drop-down menu that appears, select Sharing.
  4. The Folder Properties dialog box will open, with the Permissions view shown.
  5. Decide whether to change the setting for everyone at Cornell, or just some people.
  • To change the setting for everyone at Cornell, click Default and skip ahead to Step 8. (Do not, for any reason, delete this entry. Deleting it will cause errors.)
  • To change the setting for certain people, click Add User and continue with Step 6.
  1. In the field at the top of the Add Users dialog box, type all or part of the person's first or last name (or their NetID), then click Find. Accounts that match what you typed will be displayed.
  2. Click on the person you want to share with, then click OK.
  3. Back on the Folder Properties dialog box, click on the person's name, then choose from the Permission Level drop-down list.
  • Reviewer - in the Scheduling Assistant or Scheduling tab, a meeting proposer can see the time, subject, and location of the items on your calendar
    (Please note: The equivalent permission in Outlook is "Free/Busy time, subject, location.")
  • None  - in the Scheduling Assistant or Scheduling tab, a meeting proposer can see indicators of when you're busy, tentatively busy, out of the office, or free. This is the default setting for Cornell.
    (Please note: The equivalent permission in Outlook is "Free/Busy time" --in Outlook, "None" means the meeting proposer will see an indicator of "no information" when viewing your calendar.)
  1. Click OK.