Add holiday dates to Outlook’s calendar

March 1, 2008

Did you know that you can adjust Outlook’s holiday dates so that they better reflect your business, state, country etc.?

One client needed to set specific dates that weren’t part of the standard Australian public holiday dates that Outlook provides, so with a little bit of investigation I found out how easy this is to do! (yes, I get asked to do all sorts of things!) So I thought I’d share it with you.

Before you start, you need to know what country or countries your Outlook holidays are already set to. These instructions are for Outlook 2003 but should be very similar for all other Outlook versions.

  1. Open Outlook, then select Tools > Options from the menu bar.
  2. On the Preferences tab, click the Calendar Options button.
  3. On the Calendar Options window, click the Add Holidays button.
  4. Note which countries’ check boxes are checked, then click Cancel.
  5. Click Cancel twice more to close all the open windows.

Now that you know what countries are set, you can change the default holiday set for each one.

  1. Find the outlook.hol file on your computer. Use the Start > Search function, or take a look in your C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11\1033 folder. (Note: If you are using an earlier version of Office than 2003, the Office11 number will be different – e.g. Office10, Office9 etc. Substitute your Office version for 11.)
  2. When you find the outlook.hol file, right-click on it then select Open With… from the menu.
  3. In the Open With window, scroll down until you find Notepad. Select it, then click OK. The outlook.hol file opens in Notepad and lists all holidays for all countries, in country order.
  4. Find the country (or countries) your Outlook uses. (Quick tip: Press CTRL+F and type you country’s name into the Find box, then click Find Next.)
  5. In your country’s list of holidays, type in the name of your special holiday and its date, using exactly the same format as the other holidays (i.e., <name of holiday>,<year>/<month>/<day>). Do not put in any spaces, except in the name of the holiday.
  6. Repeat step 5 for any other holidays you need to add. If the holiday is an annual event and you know the dates, add dates for the next few years.
  7. When you have finished, count how many holidays you have added and add that number to the total number of holidays next to the country’s name at the beginning of its list. (If you remove any dates, subtract that number.)
  8. Save and close the file. You’re done!

[This article was first published in the June 2004 CyberText newsletter.]

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