Time Zone Trouble – Fixing the Calendar App Bug

This event was in my calendar for 4:45pm EST!

This event was in my calendar for 4:45pm EST!

After the latest iOS update, some people, including me, have noticed that their events in the iPhone/iPad Calendar app, while scheduled in the correct time slots, are displaying GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) or UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) on the events themselves. This is extremely confusing and has led to a lot of head-scratching, failed troubleshooting, and copious expletives.

So, what’s going on and how can we make it stop already?

Google explains that in order to minimize the confusion and disruptions that timezone changes — including the switch from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time — can have in people’s calendars, they rely on UTC as “a single, ‘true’ time.” To accomplish this, when you create an event “Calendar converts it from your time zone to UTC time, using currently known conversion rules. By using one universal time for all events, Calendar can keep all of your guests’ calendars consistent regardless of which time zones they’re in. When we display the event on your calendar, it is converted from UTC to appear in your own time zone.”

That’s a great solution to the global timezone problem, but I still don’t appreciate the Calendar app telling me that my 4:45pm event is really at 9:45pm GMT. I could not find any confirmation of this, but what appears to have happened in the last update is that we now have control over the timezone setting of individual events, and it is this setting that is creating the odd GMT/UTC display. Support forums offer many solutions to this bug, but every solution also has people reporting that it didn’t work for them. I have double and triple checked my time zone settings on my iPad, desktop, iCloud, and Google. I have fiddled with location services to no avail. I have not done an app reinstall because, frankly, I’m too lazy and the reports on the forums suggest that it doesn’t solve the problem anyway.

What does work, at least for me, is to manually change the timezone in individual events. To edit an existing event, open it, tap on the Start date/time, and you will see the Time Zone option. Change it from GMT to whatever timezone you’re in, and the pesky GMT notice will disappear from your calendar entry. HOWEVER, it will shift the preset time of the event by the number of hours off of GMT you are, so be sure to also reset the event time.

Regain your sanity here!

Regain your sanity here!

When making new events, set the timezone before the Start/End times, and you will be all set! To have this control on Calendar entries made on your Mac desktop or laptop, go to Settings, Advanced Settings, click on Turn On Timezone Support, and set your time zone at the top right of the screen.

Turn on Time Zone Support for desktop control.

Turn on Time Zone Support for desktop control.

This work-around is fiddly and not ideal, but it does the job for now. If you have found a more efficient solution, please share in the comments!

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