I'm a big Google services user. I've had a Gmail account since the day the service launched and Gmail has been my default email address since. When Google launched the Calendar service I integrated that into my daily life. Google Talk hasn't taken over the instant messaging world but it quickly became my preferred client. With each iteration of the OS since Leopard, Apple has made it easier to integrate these Google Services, including Address Book into my Mac life. Apple's latest Mac operating system, OS X 10.7 Lion, has been out for some time and Apple has made significant changes to some of the native apps including Mail and iCal that make setup and use of Google services even easier. Let me show you.

## System Preferences ##

The simplest method to setting up Google services on OS X 10.7 is via the _System Preferences_. OS X Lion System Preferences has a new option called _Mail, Contacts & Calendars_ under the _Internet & Wireless_ section. Select it.

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## Mail, Contacts & Calendar ##

This section reminds me a bit of the Mail preferences pane in iOS. From here we can set up various email and calendaring services from Yahoo, AOL and others. To setup a particular service, click the _Add Account…_ button and select the icon for the service. In this case, we are setting up Google services so select Gmail. NOTE: This is the same way to set up Google Domain services.

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Once you select Gmail you will be prompted to add you Gmail (or Google Domain) username and password. The username should be you complete email address. After entering your credentials click _Setup_.

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You may have to wait a few seconds while your Mac connects to Google's service.

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Once complete you will be presented with a screen to confirm which services you want enabled. As you can see below, I've selected all of them including iChat. Click _Add Account_ when you are ready to go ahead.

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The process for adding Google Domain accounts is similar. You should now be able to use your Google Contacts via the Mac Address Book, your Gmail via Mail.app, and your Google Calendar via iCal. Any changes to your Google Calendar or Contacts will be sync to your Mac and vice versa.

## Final Notes ##

My wife and I each have Google calendars and quite often we have a need to view each others calendars. Google Calendar enables us to make all or part of our calendars sharable for ease of scheduling. I'm involved in a number of social clubs and I have subscribed to their published calendars. The process above will only sync the default Google calendar to OS X. To enable syncing for any subscribed or share calendars you'll need to follow a few more steps.

Launch iCal and select Preferences from the file menu. Select the _Accounts_ tab, the select the Gmail account, and then the _Delegation_ tab. After a few seconds a list of shared and subscribed calendars should appear. Select the check boxes next to the ones you want to view in iCal then close the preferences window.

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Once I had setup the OS X 10.6 VPN and had a working connection to my employers' network I wanted to use the native OS X 10.6 applications to access my email and calendar. I have a copy of Microsoft Office for Mac 2008 which includes Entourage. Entourage is Microsoft attempt at providing an Outlook type experience on the Mac. While it works it does not work well (the software is as slow as molasses) and the user experience is not up to par with what a Mac user might expect. I only had one copy of Office 2008 for Mac and I wanted to be able to check my corporate email from any Mac on which I had an account.

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Apple promised that Snow Leopard had native support to Exchange mail and calendar and I wanted to test their claims. Setup was much easier than I thought but you'll need to know the address of your Exchange server. You can get that from your Exchange server administrator. After connecting to the VPN, launch Mail and selected Mail->Preferences->Accounts. Click the + to create a new account and enter the email address and password for the account. Mail will attempt to scan for the mail server. If it does not find it, no problem - just select Exchange 2007 from the menu and enter the relevant information. At this point, I also selected the check boxes to set up iCal and Address Book. These can be done later but doing it now made things easy. Once this is done you should have an entry that looks like this.

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You do not have to use Mail to initiate the setup. You can also use any of the other apps, iCal or Address Book. I did encounter one issue that I have no been able to resolve. iCal is not able to connect to the Exchange server at all. I've Googled around and hung around Apple forums since Snow Leopard debuted looking for a solution to no avail.

Google Calaboration Tool.pngSome time last year Google updated their online Calendar service to support the CalDAV protocol. CalDAV is a standard protocol that allows access to web-based calendars from desktop clients like iCal. Now from within iCal I can schedule create calendar entries that appear in my Google web calendar and vice versa. Google provides instructions on how to set up iCal to access Google Calendar but ... a screen shot is worth a thousand lines of text.

Update: Google no longer provides nor recommend this method. Please see official Google documentation.
Setup is fairly easy. Google provides a set-up tool to make the process quick and painless. Download the setup tool here. After downloading, unzip the file, and run the Calaboration application. Be sure to exit iCal before running the Calaboration tool.

Sign in to Google Calendar
Enter your Google email address and password and click the Sign In button.

Choose calendars to add to iCalAfter a few seconds the application will display your Google Calendars. Select the calendars you want to add to iCal and click the "Add to iCal" button. If your email address is not in your Leopard Address Book you will be prompted to do so.
View of Google Apps calendar in iCalYour Google Calendar will now appear in the list of calendars in iCal. Any changes you make to your Google Calendar in iCal will show up in your Google web Calendar.