Outlook Appointment Invitations Showing at Wrong Time

March 22, 2014 - 3 minutes read

If you’ve ever experienced an issue with Outlook appointments saving an hour or two off where they should have been, you’ll know how embarrassing and inconvenient it can be – being late to an appointment is never great for business!

The trick for fixing this is quite straightforward, once you understand the underlying logic.

Because computers communicate with other systems all around the world, emails and appointments are stamped with a date and time based on UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). UTC corresponds to the GMT timezone. They also record the offset at which they were created – for example, Melbourne and Sydney are UTC+10 and during Daylight Savings Time that is adjusted a further 1 hour.

When a computer opens an appointment or email, it adjusts it for the timezone you’ve configured the system to be in – for example, if you travel to Europe and adjust your computer’s time zone to match the UK, your appointments will have no adjustment to their UTC time. If you then travel on to New York and adjust your time zone accordingly (UTC-5), your appointments will be adjusted -5 hours.

Outlook Appointment Time Zone example:

You’re in the UK and receive an Outlook appointment invitation from an Australian colleague suggesting that the two of you schedule a 3pm debrief next Monday once you return to Melbourne. You accept the appointment, and Outlook automatically records it on Monday – but it’s now showing at 5am. That’s because the appointment request you received from them was scheduled for 05:00UTC, which is equivalent to 15:00 in Melbourne (UTC+10).

Once you get to New York you change the time zone on your computer and open your Outlook again. Now, the very same appointment has automatically adjusted itself back to midnight on Monday morning 00:00. This is because Outlook looks at the appointment’s UTC time and then adjusts it to show in the time zone your computer is currently configured for.

If you are receiving an appointment from someone in the same city as you and it’s showing up in your Outlook at an incorrect time, it’s either because your computer/Outlook is using the wrong time zone, theirs is, or you both are (highly unusual!).

To check on your timezone using a Windows computer, just click on the date and time in the system tray at the bottom right corner of your screen, and you’ll see an option to adjust your timezone.

(There’s also an option in Outlook to make it show a secondary timezone – for example, if you’re in Melbourne but you’re regularly working with colleagues in Perth, you may wish to see both the Victorian and Western Australian times displayed alongside each other to avoid confusion when scheduling Skype calls or teleconferences.)

Still struggling with this? Give us a call on (03) 9017 2996!

Tags: , ,