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10.5: An iCal/Microsoft Exchange time zone fix System 10.5
One of the major drawbacks to working on an Apple Mac in a large corporate company is that most IT departments still use Microsoft Exchange Server for email and calendar support. While we've found many a workaround to get email up and running using Apple Mail there remains this irritating bug that prevents Exchange iCal events from syncing correctly with Apple iCal.

The reason this bug exists is because Exchange doesn't use standard compliant time zone information, but Apple does so, leading to two different time zone formats. As a result, iCal can't figure out what the correct time zone is from Exchange iCal invitations. Here's a quick example of the South African time zone differences between the two:

Exchange format: (GMT+02.00) Harare/Pretoria
iCal format: Africa/Johannesburg

This means that when a meeting request comes in from a Windows PC, iCal can't read data beyond the GMT+02.00 and it simply adds on two hours to the event. So a meeting sent from Exchange, scheduled for 14:00, actually appears in iCal as 16:00. We've missed many a meeting as a result! Over the last few months I've spent countless hours trying to find a fix, but no one has managed to get this issue resolved -- not even Apple. I've now resorted to creating my own bug fix, which I've detailed (with screenshots) in this blog entry.

[robg adds: Due to the length and complexity of the fix, I've left this hint as a link to the source site instead of duplicating it here -- if the source files change, it would be important to have the newest versions for this to work properly. The fix involves a shell script and AppleScript that gets called by a Mail rule. I've downloaded all the source files, and it's all pretty straightforward; there's nothing to fear from installing the fix. Note, however, that you will probably have to do some editing of the script to make it work for the time zones you deal with regularly. Instructions for doing so are included in the bug fix package. I have not tested this one, and the author notes it's only been tested on 10.5.1 and 10.5.2.]
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10.5: An iCal/Microsoft Exchange time zone fix | 2 comments | Create New Account
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10.5: An iCal/Microsoft Exchange time zone fix
Authored by: gralem on Apr 08, '08 01:12:48PM

[This requires that you have MS Office for Mac installed]

I have overcome this issue by using Entourage only for emails with appointments. I have a rule in Leopard's that puts all emails that contain what appear to be webmail links or calendar invitation attachments into a special IMAP folder on the exchange server. Then, when I get invitations, I open up Entourage, go to my calendar-event IMAP folder, and accept the event. And I have Entourage configured to sync to iCal. (Preferences...General Preferences...Sync Services...Synchronize events with iCal and .Mac).

Now I can add events in iCal and have them show up in my Exchange calendar, and I can get ALL invite attachments in my iCal. Also, my iCal syncs with my iPhone and I'm all set (as long as I plug in my iPhone to sync).

I have only tested this with Entourage 2004 and my one lowly laptop. I hope this helps.

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10.5: An iCal/Microsoft Exchange time zone fix
Authored by: jnaeve on Apr 24, '08 06:44:10AM

I have done the same thing. I used to use Snerdware's GroupCal but since they don't have a compliant Leopard version and the changes to the iCal file structure shut that down, I'm relying now on Entourage. I don't use Entourage for email, only to keep my calendar up to date and sync'd with iCal. Trouble is, iCal's "improvements" really cause further grief for me so I've added a nice little plug-in called "iCal Reply Checker" that stops the auto-replies in their tracks. This is handy if you want to change a time or delete an event you don't want to attend but don't really want to communicate to the world that you're deleting it.

I'm in complete agreement with everyone, this battle between MSFT and APL is really kicking my butt and I really wish someone would just suck it up and either add CalDAV to their package or build a plug-in to their app... in either case, let's grow up and move on!

My .02 cents...

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