Changing timezones across Zimbra / OSX 10.5 / iCal / iPhone

One of the drawbacks of working when newly arrived in a new, different timezone is how it complicates coordinating meetings with people in other timezones. Being here in Tokyo, this is my first time working while on the other side of the International Date Line and it took me a while to get used to that.

Adding to the confusion, I’ve had trouble keeping all my various electronic calendars in sync with each other; some calendars were in one timezone, some in another timezone, while some ignored timezone and displayed meetings at mixed times. Having finally figured it out, I’m posting here in case others find this useful, and also so I can remember what exactly to undo when I get back to MountainView. 🙂

  1. In Zimbra: click on the “Preferences” tab, and select new timezone from the “Default Timezone” popdown list. Click “save”. Logout. Login. Notice the calendar map existing events to the new local time.
  2. In OSX 10.5 10.6 on my MacBookPro: click on clock/timer on menu bar,  and select “Open Date & Time…”. Select the “TimeZone” tab, pick your new home timezone and then close that dialog box.
  3. In iCal, go to Preferences->Advanced, make sure that “Turn on timezone support” is enabled and close the dialog box. Now, back to the iCal main display of calendar events, in the top right corner, click on whatever timezone is written in gray font above the search box. This will show a popup list which includes all time zones already enabled in iCal, and has “Other…” at the bottom of the list. If your new timezone is not listed, select “Other…”,  add it to the list, and click “ok”. Now back at the iCal main display, make sure your new timezone is selected in the popup list. Notice the calendar now display existing events in the new local time.
  4. In iPhone: go to “Settings->Mail,Contacts,Calendars”. At the bottom of the list, select “Time Zone Support”. Make sure “Time Zone Support” is “on”, and set “TimeZone” to your new local city. Notice the calendar now display existing events in the new local time. UPDATE: With iOS4.1, I noticed that the new timezone did not change as expected. I went into “General->Date&Time”, turned off “Set Automatically”, then turned it back on,a and presto the timezone changed as expected. joduinn 13nov2010
  5. Add one test calendar entry into the iPhone and another into Zimbra. Force a sync, and confirm you can see both test entries in iPhone, iCal, and Zimbra – and all are at the right time.

Finally: Get the FoxClocks addon. Its accurate. It takes up very little screen space. Its a real gem. And it handled all the Daylight Savings changes this week just perfectly in “real world testing” (ie when I watched the US-times change Sunday and then re-asked someone in each timezone what their new time was!). Because of my calendar woes, I missed a few meetings this week, but things would have been much worse without FoxClocks!