Calendar

How to stop iCloud Calendar Spam

UPDATE Dec 11, 2016: Apple has updated the calendar app to allow users to report calendar items as spam, which will remove said spam from your calendar and alert Apple with details about the spammer. MacStories has a great article that goes into more details about these brand new features.

Feel free to read my original article below, but with Apple's new fix the temporary fix detailed below is no longer needed...

I had a first this week...I received my first ever iCloud calendar invite spam. What the hell is that you say?

Just what we need, spam in our calendars... 

Just what we need, spam in our calendars... 

Needless to say, I didn't create a calendar item to remind me to go buy Oakley or Ray-Ban sunglasses over the next couple of days. No, I was the victim of calendar spam. It's essentially email spam, but a lot more devious. You see, these spammers have figured out a weakness in Apple's iCloud calendar settings. By default when you are sent an invitation to your iCloud account it is automatically added to your calendar. For someone that isn't used to dealing with corporate calendar systems this is actually a really nice feature because you don't have to understand or even care about what a calendar invite is. That is until you get spammed.

So here is how it works. Somehow some spammer out on the internet has found a bunch of iCloud email addresses. They then send out calendar invites to those iCloud addresses. Not emails mind you, just calendar invites. Because the default settings on the iCloud calendar automatically accepts all calendar invites and adds them to your calendar, this event and any alerts associated with the event just show up on your calendar. If you do anything to the calendar item (accept or decline) you are essentially telling that spammer that they found an active account...so don't do anything. Leave the invite where it is and make a very simple change to your iCloud calendar settings. Here is how you do it:

  1. Go to icloud.com and login to your iCloud account
  2. Navigate to the Calendar App
  3. Click in the settings (gear icon) in the lower left of the screen
  4. Select "Preference" from the menu
  5. Select the "Advanced" tab
  6. Under the "Invitations" section select the "Email to" options (see the screenshot below)
By selecting the "Email to" option you are turning off the ability for calendar invites to be automatically added to your calendar...now you get to choose. 

By selecting the "Email to" option you are turning off the ability for calendar invites to be automatically added to your calendar...now you get to choose. 

To be clear, by making this change to your iCloud calendar settings you are keeping this sort of thing from happening in the future. This doesn't get rid of your current calendar spam. I would suggest just leaving the spam event as-is so you don't alert the spammer on the other end that you are a valid and active iCloud account. With the changes you have just made, all future calendar invites you receive will come in the form of an email now. This does two things. It will give you the option to accept the invite (which adds it to your calendar) or ignore it (and it won't get added to your calendar). The other thing it does is it now exposes any calendar invites you receive to Apple's spam filters which will most likely block these types of invites.

So enjoy your spam free iCloud calendar and let me know if you are in the market for some sunglasses...

Update...a few days after I originally wrote this post an article from The Sweet Setup showed up in my RSS feed and it highlighted a method covered over on tom's guide about how to safetly delete a spam invite. So now, not only can you prevent this from hapenning in the future you can also nuke the spam you already have (and this method doens't alert the spammer that you have done it). Here is how to do it:

  1. Go into the Calendars app and select the "Calendars" button (which is at the bottom of the screen on iOS and at the top left on the Mac)
  2. Select "Edit" (to add a calendar on the Mac select "File" from the menu and then "New Calendar")
  3. Select "Add Calendar"
  4. Name the new calendar something fun like "Spam Sucks", not because you need to but because it might make you feel better
  5. Go into the spam invitiation (or invitations if you are cursed enough to have multiple) and tap "Calendar" above the "Invitation From" section of the invite.
  6. Select the new "Spam Sucks" calendar you just created
  7. Go back to the "Calendars" button in Step 1
  8. Select the "i" next to the "Spam Sucks" calendar
  9. Select "Delete Calendar" at the bottom of page
  10. Confirm that you want to delete the calendar by selecting "Delete Calendar"

Now pat yourself on the back because killing spam is hard work! Hopefully Apple will get on this and fix this loophole that spammers have started to take advantage of, because 10 steps to get rid of calendar spam is 10 steps too many.

Forgetting About Meetings

I have a band kid, so my calendar has a lot of High School marching band activities on it

I have a band kid, so my calendar has a lot of High School marching band activities on it

I discovered another great use for the Apple Watch the other day. I was working from home and got busy making phone calls and working on my computer and totally forgot I had a telecon I needed to dial into in a few minutes. I was away from my computer just long enough to miss the meeting notice pop up on my screen. However, I was wearing my Apple Watch so I got a nice little tap on my wrist to remind me of the meeting I needed to dial into.

It might not seem like much, but having the peace of mind knowing that you won't forget about work meetings ever again is huge. There are so many things to remember and keep track of in today's world, having a few more of those taken care of by the technology on your wrist is just another reason for me to love my Apple Watch.

Identity Crisis: Siri and iMessages

Maybe I have too many iDevices in my family (not possible), but I've run into this issue several times. It happened when I got my new iPhone 5 last year. I pull it out of the box and start talking to my shiny new phone via Siri and Siri calls me "Erin." So I politely tell Siri that I am not Erin. So what does Siri do? She says, "Ok, I'll call you 'not Erin' from now on is that ok?" No Siri, that's not ok! Then just a few days ago my wife finally catches up to the future of telephony and got the iPhone 5. She opens it up and Siri is calling her "Clark"...my name. So now her new phone thinks its mine and my iPhone and iPad have taken on my wife's identity. Since I've had so much fun doing this lately I thought I would share with everyone how to quickly and easily solve the identity crisis that can occur when swapping or upgrading iDevices.

Siri, just don't call me Shirley

What you want Siri to call you is between you and Siri. But remember, that just asking Siri via voice command to call you a name doesn't properly identify YOU as the owner of the phone. In our case Siri was telling my wife that she was "Clark", but because her and Siri "were friends" Siri could call her "Erin." What that means is that Siri has assigned YOU a nickname field in the contact card that is assigned as the iPhone's owner. So how do you make sure that your contact card in Contacts is what your iPhone is using as the iPhone owner's card? There are two things to check here:

1.) If you have a device with Siri you need to go to Settings > General > Siri > My Info

From there you will be able to select the card in your Contacts that you want       associated with Siri so Siri knows who the owner of the iPhone is.

2.) Whether your device has Siri or not you will also want to check that Mail, Contacts, Calendars is also identifying you as YOU. Go to Mail, Contact, Calendars > My Info

From there you will be able to select the card in your Contacts that you want identified to identify as YOU when you are using things like Mail, Messages and Calendar. 

IMessage and FaceTime Contact Methods

Another thing that can easily be confusing when dealing with multiple devices across a family and multiple email and phone numbers is how to assign phone numbers and email addresses to individual devices so that each individual person can be contacted differently for FaceTime and iMessages. The best way to ensure that your device is setup the way you want it is to go to Settings and under Messages > Send & Receive you should see 3 things:

  • The Apple ID associated with iMessages at the very top
  • A list of phone numbers and email addresses that can be reached by iMessage
  • A list of phone numbers and email addresses that can be used to start a new iMessage (this one is important because if you want to be able to receive an iMessage with your personal email but you don't want people who don't already have your personal email address to have it... you want to make sure your personal email address is NOT listed here.

There is a similar setup for FaceTime in Settings under FaceTime > 

There you will find a switch to turn on and off FaceTime (in case you don't ever want to be contacted via FaceTime, a specification of the Apple ID associated with FaceTime and a list of additional email addresses that you can be reached at on this device via FaceTime.

Rather than go into great detail about the setup I will point to an excellent article by iLounge here. But I do want to explain two very important points. You can use the same Apple ID email address on multiple devices for both iMessages and FaceTime, but the way you distinguish between devices is by adding additional email addresses and phone numbers to each device. That way if you want to iMessage or FaceTime between 2 different devices that are using the same Apple ID there is a way to tell the two devices apart. Another really important thing to understand is that you CAN NOT associate the same non-Apple ID email address with more than one device. For example, I was wanting to associate my gmail address with both my iPhone and iPad so that I could get a FaceTime call on both devices at the same time and decide which one I wanted to use (in case I only had one device on me at the time). But this is not possible. Only the main Apple ID associated with iMessages and FaceTime will ring or message all devices at the same time.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.