Best answer

Google Calendar error: The app returned "The specified time range is empty.".

  • 1 August 2023
  • 15 replies

I’m trying to duplicate all events in google cal (existing, future, created and invited ones)
Such that the duplications start date is -14 hours before

So in the ZAP Action, under field named “Start Date & Time”
I tried (according to instructions here: )
to use “`Start Time Pretty`-14h”
but it just gives me the error:
The app returned "The specified time range is empty.".

I tried to use “`Event Begins Pretty`-14h”
and it duplicated successfully however it completely ignored the -14h part so the destination event remained on the same date instead of having it -14h before.

How do I resolve this?


Best answer by eileenh 3 August 2023, 05:37

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15 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +14

Hi @AmazingMiki 

Good question.

Please post screenshots with how your Zap steps are configured to give us proper context.

Userlevel 2

Hi @AmazingMiki! Instead of the “Start Time Pretty” option, try using the timestamp option. When the trigger step involves a Google Calendar event, Zapier pulls in one data field called “Event Begins” and one called “Event Ends”, and both are formatted as timestamps (YYYY-MM-DDT, followed by the local time and the UTC offset value). Here’s an example:

example of Event Begins timestamp

Then make sure you add a space behind the data, and then don’t put any spaces between the minus, number, and time unit. It seems like the formatting has to be exact in order for it to work! Initially I didn’t put a space between the data and the -14h and it did not calculate properly.



I did as you said, added the missing space as a prefix to whatever was in the field, changed the dynamic part to `Event Begins`, made sure there is (still) no space  (it was already like that before) between the dynamic part and the operator and the number, however seems like it still completely ignores my +\- expressions,

This is the error I get:




I don’t know how to force zapier to stop ignoring the numbers and the math operators.


Does it actually not at all supporting any operators by design in the time fields expressions?
Or is it a zapier bug? if it is a known bug, is it tracked somewhere so I can get an update when it is resolved?


Is there some voodoo syntax of spaces/no-spaces which makes zapier happily process the numbers?

Userlevel 7
Badge +14


Try this...

Is the event created on the wrong date, specifically with the month and day switched?

Regardless of the settings in your Google Calendar, data sent through their API (as Zapier does) must be in MM/DD/YYYY format. So, if you try to send an event for April 7, 2021 as 07/04/2021, Google Calendar will interpret that as July 4, 2021. The dates need to be in MM/DD/YYYY format to ensure Google Calendar adds the event to the correct date(s). If your trigger is sending the data in DD/MM format, you can use a Formatter step to reformat the date.

Even if it is in the wrong date I don't care I just want it to at least not fail.

Switching from standard to American mmdd won't make sense in solving the problem, also I never explicitly decide which date format is used, I never write specifically mmdd or ddmm I just use the dynamic field. I am sure zapier had processed it millions of times and knows for to do it correctly, no?


Also this kinda used to work for me a while ago without errors only that the time operators had no effect and the time remained the same instead of -14h



I will try to use the formatter 

Userlevel 7
Badge +14


If you are still having issues, then we would need to see updated screenshots with how your Zap steps are configured.

Userlevel 2

@AmazingMiki – just to clarify, when I got it to work I did have a space between the data and the -14h. When I didn’t have a space, it was just creating an event at the original time. Could you see if that makes any difference? If it doesn’t, then screenshots would be helpful like Troy said!

Hi! The space around the operator made it start working!

However, the times are offset very strangely

I changed the - 14h to -12h

but in fact the new event was exactly -16h - 37m (I tested on an event at 13:00 and it recreated it at 20:23 the day before)

Also the duration is 0 minutes, I expected it to be about 5 minutes.

Userlevel 2

Try removing the space after the operator (so only have a space between the data and the beginning of the operator), and then for the end date put “-11h55m”.


It finally worked! Thank you @eileenh ! this is resolved

One final question - is there a way for me to run this on all existing events that are anchored in my calendar starting from right now onwards? (and not just newly created events)

Userlevel 2

One final question - is there a way for me to run this on all existing events that are anchored in my calendar starting from right now onwards? (and not just newly created events)

No, there’s not a way to do that using a Zap as far as I know.

It would take some additional time and steps, but you could attempt to use Zapier’s Transfer feature and connect a tool like Google Sheets (that contains a row for each event) to the “Create a Detailed Event” Google Calendar action. You would need to figure out how to get your existing events into a .csv file, or manually enter the data into the spreadsheet. But at that point it may be just as efficient to manually create the events in Google Calendar.

something horrible has taken place, this runs infinitely recursively and all my calendar is filled with infinite duplications if the same event with no stop condition. how do I prevent this?

I have no come to the understanding the duplication of events with any base feature of IF CONDITION THEN STOP

could be super destructive (my entire calendar is exploded with these events, for all events ever (past events, future events, already-invited events, newly invited events)

all I wanted is to get a simple notification 12 hours before a day event that happens between 8 and 14 so I know to prepare my availability the day before, and now my entire calendar is exploding with infinite events and is useless to me now. I’m manually deleting them all one by one but it seems like they have no end :(

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

Hi there @AmazingMiki! 👋

Ah, it sounds like you might have inadvertently created a Zap loop! I’d recommend first switching off the Zap to stop it creating more events, then check out our Zap is stuck in a loop guide for details on how to fix Zap loops.

That said, you mentioned previously that you wanted to duplicate all events in Google calendar, so is the Zap duplicating them in the same calendar, not a different calendar? If so, it seems like it’s then triggering the Zap for the duplicate event that was created (so not just the original events) and then making more duplicate events. Is that the case here?

If so, to prevent the Zap from triggering for the duplicate events that are created by the Zap, you’d need some way of distinguishing between the original and Zap created events. The easiest way to do that might be to add a keyword like “notify” to the event title for the events, then add a filter to the Zap (requires a paid plan) that prevents the Zap from running if the event triggering the Zap contains that specific keyword. 

You can find out more about using filters in Zaps here: Add conditions to Zaps with filters 

Do you think that approach could work? If you do give that a try let us know how it goes. Keen to ensure you’re all set here!