Hack your Google Calendar with gcalcli

26 Aug 2019 · Three minute read · on Gianluca's blog

I am pretty bad with meetings. I forget about them for a lot of different reasons, sometime I do not show up even if few minutes earlier my mind briefly remembered it.

Meetings are not my daily job, and I do not have them with a lot of different people: IPM with my team, one-to-one with my manager, various stand up. I can remember the recurrent one pretty well but it is still an annoying a useless exercise.

When they are not recurrent they are usually out of my small circle of friends and it gets even worst because I do not like to be late or to miss it! I swear I am not like that in real life! I am on time and I prefer to be there earlier.

Anyway! Ryan Betts VP Engineer at InfluxData shared a very nice CLI tools called gcalcli. I love CLI tools as much as I love API! Probably a bit more because they are the perfect glue between server side and the best UX ever (also known as my terminal).

A good gin tonic is great as close as my terminal

gcalcli is a lovely CLI tool that uses the Google Calendar API to help you to manage your Google Calendar.

You can do a lot of things: list, search, edit, add events and even more. The authentication is well documented you need to create a project on Google Development Platform with Calendar API access. After that you get your credential and you follow the link I just posted! Super easy.

When you are logged I wrote this system unit and a timer in order to check every 10 minutes if there are upcoming events:

ExecStart=/usr/bin/gcalcli remind

Description="Send notification for every meetings set for xxxxx@gmail.com"



The timer runs every 10 minutes this command /usr/bin/gcalcli remind. remind uses notify-send to show a lovely notification.

I set it up for my working calendar and let me tell you it works great! For that reason I was looking for a way to support multiple Google account, because I would like to use it for my personal Google Calendar as well.

There is a global flag for gcalcli called --config-folder, by default it set te none it creates a config file with credentials and preferences in your home directory. If you run gcalcli with that parameter set with a different location:

$ gcalcli --config-folder ~/.gcalclirc-anotheraccount list

The CLI won’t find the configuration file and it will proceed with a brand-new authentication and it will create a new file located where specified. Sweet! I did that trick in order to have the second Google Account configured and I have created a new unit and timer with the right flags and now I get notification from everywhere! So far so good!

Ryan allowed me to share a script he hacked called next, I have it in my bashrc

next() {
    datetime=$(date "+%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M")
    whatwhere=$(gcalcli --calendar name-your-calendar agenda --tsv --details location $datetime 8pm | head -n 1 | awk 'BEGIN {FS = "\t+"} ; {print $5 " " $6}')

    if [[ $whatwhere =~ $re ]]; then

    echo "What: '$whatwhere'"
    echo "xdg-open $room"
    echo "xdg-open $room" | clipc

I use Linux, he uses MacOS, so I changed the script a bit.

xdg-open to make it to work with X, next gets the next closer meeting you have in one particular calendar (name-your-calendar in my case) and it stores on my clipboard (via clicp) the command to join a zoom channel. It is super when you are in a hurry, you will join zoom meetings in a second.

If you use gcalcli and you have other tricks let me know via twitter @gianarb because I would like to try them as well!

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