The Second Time Is Always Better

Speaking of options, did you know you can show two time zones at once in the
Outlook calendar?

This tip works in all versions of Outlook.

Go into Tools.Options and click the Calendar Options button and then the Time
Zone button. Alternatively, you right-click the time bar on the left side
of the calendar and choose "Change Time Zone" (this is the best way in Outlook

Now you can turn on any second time zone you wish. You can label one or both of
them to help you remember what they are.

A word of warning: use caution with the "Swap Time Zones" button. It does a little
more than you might think--it promotes your secondary time zone to be your new
Windows system
time zone as well as making your old primary time zone
secondary. This means that your system clock will change, meaning that you
probably only want to do this when you're physically located in a secondary time
zone and want to swap everything (Outlook and Windows.)

The good news is, if you swap by mistake, a simple press of the Swap button
again will put you back.

You can read more about time
management features in Outlook 12 here

Comments (17)

  1. Tim Smith says:

    This feature really helps me keep my life in sync.  I live in the Pacific time zone and spend my time in Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Detroit, etc.  I’d actually love to be able to show three timezones!

    I also use the "Swap Time Zones" feature all the time.  I wish it didn’t screw up my reminders.

  2. Brandon Bloom says:

    I have just begun using this feature because I live on the east coast and am about to begin an internship with Microsoft in Redmond!

    As nice as this feature is, it is severely lacking without the ability to specify time zones for start and end times for appointments. I believe that Evolution supports this, Outlook really should also.

    And while your at it, convince the Windows team to improve the time zone tab in "Date and Time Properties". Gnome has a superior dialog which is invoked from Evolution.

  3. Gabe says:

    Am I the only one who noticed that all of Jensen’s posts are now at 4:00 AM instead of 7:00 AM like they used to be? I assumed it was due to some inadvertant time zone swap. Am I right?

  4. jensenh says:


    They installed a new beta version of the blog software on the server which has a timezone related bug in it unfortunately.  (Hence the 4am.)

  5. Jensen Harris is a Lead Program Manager on the Microsoft Office "user experience" team. It’s been a pleasure to read his blog and the effort the team has been putting into the new version of Office. He talks about many…

  6. Alex says:

    Whoa, that’s cool! Thanks!

    I wish I knew about it a month before…

  7. Justin says:

    I’ve always liked this feature.  However, I need to keep track of Eastern Standard (GMT -5:00) and Kathmandu (GMT +5:45) time.  

    They should be offset by 15 minutes, but Outlook draws them as offset by 30 minutes.  That’s too bad.

    Is this fixed in O12?

  8. Simon Jones says:

    Yes this is a good feature but what about people who need to coordinate appointments in three time-zones?

    Also, if I’m in London and setting up an appointment for next week when I am in Seattle, I have to manually calculate the GMT time and enter that.

    You should be able to specify the time zone for appointments, EG 16:00 PST, 19:30 CET, etc.

    Yes, I can show the PST times beside the GMT ones and select the correct PST times before I create the appointment but that is forcing me into a counterintuitive way of working.

    You should also be able to specify "no time zone" so an appointment floats at, say, 16:00 wherever you are in the world.

    Outlook should default to the current time zone but make intelligent guesses from what it finds in the location field.

    If I enter an appointment for 16:00, location = "Seattle" I’d expect Outlook to know that that should be PST (or PDT depending on the date).

    I know that none of these changes are trivial, involving Exchange and Windows Mobile as well as Outlook but this assumption that "all times are entered and displayed as ‘local’" is not ‘real-world’ and should have been fixed years ago.

    Simon Jones

  9. Simon Jones says:

    Justin, Re Kathmandu time. The difference is wrongly shown as 30 minutes if you have Outlook showing 30 minute intervals. Right click the time bar and choose 60, 15 or 5 minutes and the offset is correct. Choose 10 or 6 minute intervals and the offset is shown as 20 or 18 minutes, the nearest it can manage.

    Tested in Outlook 12 Beta 1.


  10. Patrick Schmid says:

    The Outlook Options dialog could really have needed a significant redesign as well. The pre-12 options dialogs of Excel, PPT and Word were more structured and better organized than this mess of at least 3-times nested dialog in Outlook. Finding anything in there requires at least looking through 2 tabs and clicking on 3 buttons…


  11. Kurt Thomas says:

    Managing all-day appointments across timezones could also be better supported. All-day appointments are "privileged" in the UI because you can clearly make them out in the Calendar. But if the all-day appointment was made in a different timezone, that advantage is lost, as Outlook does not treat it as an all-day but as lasting from 0:00:00 through 23:59:59, which turns into, say 20:00:00 through 19:59:59 in another timezone. So there you lose the "privileged" status.

    Best thing would be to add an option, subsumed under "all-day appointment": "Make all-day across timezones".

    Melissa of the Outlook team confirmed this is being looked at, but won’t be done in V12.

  12. jensenh says:


    I am pretty sure we fixed this for all-day events in Outlook 2003. Maybe I’m wrong, but I remember us spending time on it.

  13. Simon Jones says:

    No, even in Outlook 2003, when you change timezone, your all-day appointments slide around making birthdays span two days. They stay up in the "all-day" band on the display but span multiple days. In Outlook 12 Beta 1 they do the same but show (local) start and end times.

  14. Ted's Blog says:

    I read about this in PC Magazine a few months ago and thought that this would make a great blog entry. …

  15. Mike Hughes says:

    Always use the multiple timezoner feature, which works well enough, but I’d like to be able to list the timezones I want to display, not be restricted to 2.  I need at least 3 and sometimes 4 for co-ordinating across US, EMEA and APJ.  Surely it couldn’t be too difficult to add this feature in to future versions?

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