What is an ICS File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert ICS & ICAL Files

Screenshot of a red calendar icon
© Paomedia / Iconfinder

A file with the ICS file extension is an iCalendar file. These are plain text files that include calendar event details like a description, beginning and ending times, location, etc. The ICS format is typically used for sending people meeting requests but also a popular means for subscribing to holiday or birthday calendars.

Although ICS is much more popular, iCalendar files may instead use the ICAL or ICALENDER file extension.

iCalendar files that just contain availability information (free or busy) are saved with the IFB file extension, or IFBF on Macs.

ICS files that aren't iCalendar files may be either IronCAD 3D Drawing files or IC Recorder Sound files created by a Sony IC recorder.

How To Open an ICS File

ICS calendar files can be used in email clients like Microsoft Outlook, Windows Live Mail, and IBM Notes (formerly known as IBM Lotus Notes), as well as most popular calendar programs, like Google Calendar for web browsers, Apple Calendar (previously called Apple iCal) for iOS mobile devices and Macs, Yahoo! Calendar, Mozilla Lightning Calendar, and VueMinder.

As an example, say you want to subscribe to a holiday calendar like those found on Calendar Labs. Opening one of those ICS files in a program like Microsoft Outlook will import all the events as a new calendar that you can then have overlayed with other events from the other calendars you're using.

However, while using a local calendar like that is useful for things like holidays that won't change all year long, you might instead want to share a calendar with someone else so that the changes anyone makes is then reflected in the other people's calendars, like when setting up meetings or inviting people to events.

To do that, you could store your calendar online with something like Google Calendar so it's both easy to share with others and also simple to edit wherever you are. See Google's Import Events to Google Calendar guide for uploading an ICS file to Google Calendar, which will let you share and edit the .ICS file with others through a unique URL.

A regular text editor like Notepad or Notepad++ can open ICS files too. However, while all the information is intact and viewable, what you'll be looking at isn't in a format that's the easiest to read or edit. It's best to use one of the above programs to open and edit ICS files.

ICS files that are IronCAD 3D Drawing files can be opened with IronCAD.

For ICS files that are IC Recorder Sound files, Sony's Digital Voice Player and Digital Voice Editor can open them. Windows Media Player can too, so long as you install Sony Player Plug-in.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the ICS file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open ICS files, see my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How To Convert an ICS File

You can convert an ICS calendar file to CSV for use in a spreadsheet program with ProjectWizards ICS to CSV Converter.

You may also be able to export or save an ICS calendar file to another format by using one of the email clients or calendar programs from above.

IronCAD can surely export an ICS file to another CAD format through a File > Save As or an Export menu option.

The same is true for IC Recorder Sound files. Since they contain audio data, it wouldn't surprise me if Sony's programs linked above could convert the ICS file to a more common audio format but I don't have a copy myself to confirm with.

More From Us