Deleting "Un-deleteable" Google Calendar Events

March 19, 2009

Recently Sibylle added a repeating event to one of her Google Calendars. She's been auditing a class at K-State, and added the three-times-a-week classroom schedule to her calendar. This week is spring break here, and so she wanted to remove the three events from her calendar, since she won't be going to class.

Google Calendar refused to remove the events. They would disappear from the calendar when you deleted them, but the next time the calendar was refreshed, they would reappear. Opening up any of the events in the series showed that the title had been changed to the word CANCELED. The title shown inside the event bubble on the calendar was still correct, however. Sometimes in the past Google Calendar has been slow to respond to changes, and waiting a few minutes to try an action again is all it takes to set things right. This time waiting didn't accomplish anything.

Over the course of several days we both tried to remove the now offending events with no success. Poking around in the help pages didn't provide any insight or advice. Doing a Google search led me to a couple of forum threads filled with postings of similar issues. There appeared to be a work around, which involves exporting your calendar and editing it outside of Google Calendar, and then importing the corrected calendar. Since this is a calendar Sibylle has had for years, and one filled with history she wants to keep, we were hesitant to go the export-edit-import route.

One of the last comments in the thread suggested finding the very last event in the series and deleting it. In at least two cases this removed all the other CANCELED but still visible events. She tried that with no success, and later I tried it as well. Finally in desperation, and because "no" is a powerful motivator for me at times, I manually deleted every single occurrence of the event. All 312 of them.

Working on the assumption that the problem was somewhere in the long tail of events, stretching out to May 2011, I deleted events in reverse order. Each time I selected the "All events in series" option hoping that I'd finally found the magic event that would clear away the rest. It wasn't until I reached February 2009, events that had already occurred, that deleting an instance wiped out others in the series.

Yes my solution was labor intensive, in all I spent maybe 15 minutes deleting one event after another. In the end, however, Sibylle gets her calendar back.

There is one comment buried in the thread from a Google employee that indicates they are aware of the issue and are working on it. I don't know when (or if) they will address it. Hopefully we won't need it.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.