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pinkfloyd1969 Level 1 (5 points)

I've tried all kinds of combinations between my MacBook Pro iCal and my iPhone and it just doesn't work.


First, with iCal on my laptop, turning time zone support on gives the option of selecting which time zone to display and set events on the calendar.  With support off, the calendar updates times depending on which time zone you're in.  This makes no sense!!!  If anything, the calendar times should stay fixed and not change at all if support is off.  Turning support on should make the calendar adjust times.


Second, what's the point for entering times in different time zones anyway?  If I have a meeting or a flight anywhere in the world, the time is the time no matter what.  If I have travel to a different time zone and I set an event for 2 PM, that event will change time when I go to another time zone giving me the wrong time.  If I set the event for 2 PM in a different time zone, it will diplay the wrong time in my current time zone. 


Third, there is no option to start in one time zone and end in another.  I fly all the time.  If I turn time zone support on and set a time for a departing flight at 4 PM Eastern, there is no option to arrive at a time in another time zone, so the arrival time will be wrong when the calendar updates in the arriving time zone. If I turn support off, and set an event to start at 4 PM and travel an hour ahead, the calendar will then say the event is at 5 PM when it updates in the new time zone, which is wrong and I'll miss that event.


If I turn my laptop calendar time zone support and iPhone TZS both on or off, times keep getting screwed up.  If one is on and one is off, it gets screwed up. Just as an example, to keep my laptop calendar to have the actual time of all my events no matter where I am, I turned time zone support on and set to Central time, where I live.  With TZS off, all my times would change to one hour ahead when I go to the Eastern time zone which would screw up any event I would need to refer to.  My iPhone has TZS on as well.  I have a flight at 3:30 eastern arriving home at 4:30 central, but if I create the event in eastern at 3:30 there is no option to finish in central, so I would have to mark my arrival as 5:30 eastern.  When I get home, my calendar would say I left at 2:30 and arrived at 4:30.  If I had looked at my calendar before my trip to the eastern time zone, my calendar would say I'm leaving at 2:30, which is wrong for the zone I would leave from, but the arrival time is correct. 


Now, with all TZS turned on, and my calendar set to central, and a 3:30 PM Eastern flight with a 24 hour advance alert, my phone alerted me at 4:30 Eastern of my 3:30 Eastern flight because my calendar was set to Central time, not Eastern.  Had I had TZS turned off and entered the flight as 3:30, it would display at 4:30 when I arrived in Eastern and my departure and arrival time would be wrong when my calendar updated once in returned to Central and, while still in the Eastern zone, every single event in my calendar would be advance by one hour to reflect the Eastern zone and would be wrong for the actual time those events were to take place in Central, or any other time zone.


If I lived in New York and I traveled to Los Angeles and had an 8 AM meeting in LA, while in NY my calendar would say I had a 11 AM meeting if TZS was on and set to Eastern and wouldn't change to 8 until I manually selected the Pacific time zone.  If TZS was off, my 8 AM meeting would display as 5 AM when I arrived in LA and the calendar updated automatically.


The whole system just makes no sense at all and serves no purpose that I can see.  The time is the time regardless of where I am or what time zone I'm in. I will always be where I am and the time will always be the time.  Why make it change?  I want to look at my calendar and have the right time no matter where I am.  Apple needs to fix this thing to either add multiple time zones for a single event's start and end time and display the time zone in the calendar or they need to get rid of time zone support altogether.


If anybody knows of a way to keep the calendar on both the computer and the iPhone to actually work in a manner that doesn't change times and will alert me to the actual time of events regardless of time zones I'd love to hear it.  Outside of turning off location services, which will screw up every other app, I don't see a fix.  Unless Apple give the option to turn of location services for iCal on the iPhone.

iPhone 4S, iOS 5.1.1, Aslo MacBook Pro 15 inch Early 2008
  • Edahani Wan Yahya Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm facing the same problem. Anyone has a solution for this??

  • pinkfloyd1969 Level 1 (5 points)

    The only thing I can figure out to help fix this is to turn location services for iCal on, then anytime you set an appointment you have to change the calendar to whatever time zone you will be in at that time, then make the event a floating event.  That way the event time will not change as you change time zones and any alerts or reminders will happen when they are supposed to. Pretty stupid and complex way to do it, but it's the only way I can get it to work close enough.


    But you have to make sure the event is created in the proper time zone.  If not, your alerts will go off at the wrong time.  This happened to me recently when I mistakenly set an event in Central time, made it a floating event and went to the Pacific time zone. My alert went off 2 hours before it should have because it was creaated in CST, so I set my phone alarm for the proper time to alert me when I really needed to be alerted.


    To me, it would make more sense if the whole calendar was "floating" and/or there was no change in time zones on the calendar at all.  My calendar should follow me, not a time zone. 

  • chrismcs Level 1 (0 points)

    The behavior you are seeing is actually inherent in most calendar apps -- the deal is that you are telling your calendar when something happens, not what time.  Our company writes a calendaring+task management app for iPhone called Pocket Informant - we get this same question on occassion, so I wrote up a Knowledge Base article discussing some details (keep in mind - this article discusses some features specific to our app that you won't find in iCal/Calendar on MacOS X):





    In iCal/Calendar on MacOS X, when you turn on Time Zone support, you then get to choose the time zone that you are entering your appointment for.  This helps you not have to do the "time zone math" in your head.  Thus, if you are in CST and want to set up an appointment for 6pm PST, you can choose PST in the event editor as you enter 6pm.  Note that while you are in CST, your event will display in your calendar at "CST time" (8pm), but when you fly out to PST, it will show the "correct" PST time. 



    While iCal/Calendar supports "floating time zones", I personally would caution against using them for everything (I mentioned a few reasons why in the above kbase article).  Use those for events that truly are "time driven" rather than "point in time" driven (such as "I want to go jogging every morning at 5am no matter what time zone I'm in). 



    Hope that helps some!

  • LexSchellings Level 6 (8,752 points)

    I agree pinkfloyd, do not turn on TimeZoneSupport.

  • pinkfloyd1969 Level 1 (5 points)

    The problem with not turning Time Zone Support on is that unless Location Services are turned off (which doesn't allow you to use several apps or use their functions (i.e., weather, Facebook check-in, Yelp, etc.) the times on the iPhone calendar will update to the current time zone.  An event listed as 4 pm when created while in Central time zone will show as 5 pm in Eastern, even if created with TZS off.


    There's no way to avoid it.  In my opinion, the calendar should just stay fixed.  If I was using a paper calendar with hand written appointments I wouldn't write appointments in different time zones, so why should iCal be any different?  If I fly from New Orleans (CST) to L.A. (PST) for a 10 am meeting I know the meeting is at 10 no matter what time zone I'm in because the meeting can only take place in one time zone.


    It makes no sense to change time zones on a calendar to see what time an event takes place.


    If you want an alert on your event, the event must be created in the time zone in which it will take place or the timer will not be accurate. Making the event a floating event ensures that the time will display properly regardless of the time zone.

  • chrismcs Level 1 (0 points)

    The problem is that it would be a complete disaster for many (if not most) people if modern calendaring systems worked like a paper calendar.  I listed a few reasons why in that knowledge base article:


    -Conference calls always occur at the same point in time no matter where you are - thus if your calendar changed the time of a conference call because you flew to a new time zone, you'd miss it.


    -Sharing calendars


    -Meeting Invites


    -Unexpected trips (I didn't actually list this one) - suppose you scheduled an event that will occur in your local time zone, then unexpectedly you need to fly out somewhere.  You no longer have a sense of when that event really is.



    Then finally, there are alarms.  The problem is in order to keep your events "at the same time", under the hood, an electronic calendar actually needs to constantly update the actual "point in time" that your event occurs every single time you change a time zone...that also means it needs to go update every single alarm attached to those events so that it fires at the right time in your new time zone. 


    That all said - I think that electronic calendars can do more than they do today to help people manage multiple time zones.  I think iCal's current approach of letting you set the time zone when you create the event works well because then you don't need to do the time zone math in your head.  It would also be handy, though, if it put some sort of badge on that event so that while you are in this time zone, you could see that you expect to be in a different time zone when that event actually occurs (we do something like that in our app when you lock a calendar to a specific time zone).

  • LexSchellings Level 6 (8,752 points)

    Exactly: if you do NOT activate Tme Zone Support the time will stay at the time of your own time zone: it will not change when you fly to a new time zone. So DO NOT SET TimeZone Support: you know what the time is.

  • mwestley Level 1 (0 points)



    Your article was very helpful in explaining the difference between alarm times and calendar times.


    The effects of changing the Time Zone Support switch appear different than what you seem to suggest though.


    It seems to me that turning on Time Zone Support allows you to enter events based on different time zones than the current calendar time zone, but always shows you the time in the time zone selected for your calendars even if you are in a different time zone (i.e. if my calendar time zone is Chicago and I am in New York, all my calendar times will show Chicago time not New York time).


    Turning off Time Zone Support always shows you the event times based on where you are. (i.e. if my event showed 8 a.m. in Chicago, it will change to 9 a.m. when I am in New York). However, when you enter events with Time Zone Support off, you can only enter the times based on your current location. The time zone option is gone.


    One way to deal with this behavior is to turn Time Zone Support on and then change your calendar time zone to match the time zone you are now in, much like setting your wristwatch to the new time zone in the olden days. That way, you'll see calendar times based on your current location, and you can add new events based on different time zones when necessary.

  • pinkfloyd1969 Level 1 (5 points)



    The big problem with TZS, whether on or off, is that times constantly change and will always display incorrectly if you need to refer to a time. Just as you mentioned, 8 am in Chicago shows as 9 am in NY.  If someone asked you while you were in NY what time your meeting was scheduled for in Chicago, a quick glance at your calendar would have you thinking 9 am and not 8 am.  Same thing if TZS was on.  In NY, your event would show as 9 am unless you phyiscally changed the calendar time zone.


    If you're in NY now and you have an 8 am meeting in Chicago tomorrow and you will be in Chicago at the time of the meeting the time is still 8 am.  You change your watch when you change time zones, unlike iCal which changes the event time to correspond to your current time zone, causing it to DISPLAY the incorrect time.


    If you used a date book or paper calendar, you would write down 8 am.  It would never change.  You can only be in one time zone at a time so you would write it down for the time zone that you would be in at the time of that event. Granted, if you had a phone conference and you had to travel outside your time zone you would have to update it for the new time zone. This is when TZS comes in handy. 


    The biggest problem I have with the whole thing is that times can display incorrectly when needing to reference an event if you're not currently in the time zone in which that event will take place (i.e., telling a friend in L.A. that I land at 3 pm, instead of 5 pm as diplayed in CST when I live). 


    I have a much better understanding of how it all works now.  It's just a matter of knowing how to maniupulate iCal to display it in the manner in which you'd like and how to get notifications at the correct times.

  • mwestley Level 1 (0 points)



    Try this experiment. Turn TZS on, then change the time zone to somewhere other than your actual time zone.


    You will see all the times change to reflect that new time zone. They will not change when you go to another time zone as long as you have TZS on. This behavior is just like your paper calendar.


    Turn TZS off and all the times will change back to reflect your actual time zone. Now if you go to another time zone, all the times will change to reflect the new time zone.


    I have Mountain Lion installed, so perhaps it doesn't work the same way on earlier versions of OSX.

  • pinkfloyd1969 Level 1 (5 points)

    I'm still running Snow Leopard 10.6.8 and it doesn't work that way.  With TZS on the times display in the zone the event was either created in or the zone selected in the event window and the times change as you move through zones.  With TZS off all times change to reflect the zone you're currently in.


    The displayed time changes regardless of whether TZS is on or off unless you make the event a floating event.

  • mesh-arc Level 1 (0 points)

    Pink has it right. There seems to be no way to just have the calendar times stay still! Either way, it won't work because calendar doesn't know your future plans etc. apple must fix this, with an option that most people will use to keep times for events constant.   The ONLY use for the existing scheme is shared calendars with conference calls between time zones. Maybe the engineer working on this was having a lot of those.

  • mwestley Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm sorry to hear that it does not work for you. I believe apple has fixed this at iOS 6. When I turn on TZS and change my time zone to eastern instead of central, all of my calendar times show one hour later even though I am in the central time zone. When I change it back to central, my calendar shows central times again. That sounds like the behavior you're looking for.

  • pinkfloyd1969 Level 1 (5 points)



    The behavior we're looking for is no change in time at all, regardless of what time zone I'm in.  I don't want to change the calendar time zone and I don't want times to update when I go to a new time zone.  The phone will update calendar times regardless of whether TZS is on or off if location services are on.  The computer calendar will not update if TZS is off.


    With TZS off, alerts are not given at the correct time. 

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