If Apple ever had evidence to back up its "digital hub" hype, iSync is it.
This attractive, simple program is designed to keep the calendars and phone lists on your
various computers, Palm organizer, cell phone, and even your iPod in perfect
synchronization, sparing you the headache of the modern age: inputting the same
information over and over again. (See Figure 6-9.)
Here's what it can sync:
• A cell phone. iSync can keep your cell phone and Mac up to date with each other's
calendar, Address Book, and to-do list, either via a USB cable or wirelessly, using
Bluetooth. It requires a certain amount of technical setup (creating a phone profile,
pairing the phone with your Mac, opening iSync, choosing Device Add
Device, and finally selecting the phone). You'll find detailed instructions in the
iSync Help screens.
Tip: Apple lists phones that are officially compatible with this feature at
http://www.apple.com/iSync/devices.html. (Hint: They're mostly Nokia, Motorola,
Samsung, and Sony erickson phones.) If your phone isn't on The List, don't miss
www.taniwha.org.uk, a Web page that's loaded with drivers and installation
instructions for specific phone models.
Figure 6-9. Top: For each gadget, you can specify which iCal calendar
categories you want to sync, which contacts, and so on.
Bottom: The Safeguard window warns you about exactly how many changes
you're about to make. (You can turn off this confirmation box in the iSync
Preferences dialog box.) You can also revert your setup to the last sync,
or back up all your data, using commands in the Devices menu.
Even with all these safeguards, synchronization can be a tricky business. Just
remember never to sync a device with more than one Mac. Similarly, sync
only one of each device type (phone, Palm, or iPod) with a certain Mac.
Otherwise, iSync may get hopelessly confused as to what's most current.
• An iPod. iTunes, not iSync, now handles the task of keeping your iPod updated
with your iCal and Address Book info. To get started, connect the iPod to the Mac,
and then click the Info tab. There, you'll find syncing options for your calendar
and Address Book. After the next sync, you'll be able to consult your little black
book on your little white block.)
• A Palm organizer. iSync can sync iCal and Address Book with a Palm-compatible
organizer. It doesn't do the work itself; it relies, behind the scenes, on Palm's own
HotSync software, which must be installed and properly configured beforehand.
Once that's done, open HotSync Manager in your Palm folder. Choose HotSync
Conduit Settings. Double-click the item named iSync, and then turn on "Enable iSync for
this Palm device."
Click OK, and then quit HotSync Manager. You've just told Palm's own syncing software
to butt out. From now on, iSync handles syncing your Mac's info with its Address Book,
Date Book, and To Do List. (To edit and sync Notes, you still need Palm Desktop.)
Finally, in iSync, use the Devices Add Device command to make iSync "see" your
Palm, which you've put into its cradle, attached to its cable, or (if it's a Bluetooth Palm)
made it discoverable. To start the sync, click iSync's Sync Now button.
When you open iSync, its toolbar shows the icons of any synchable devices connected to
your Mac at the moment. Click an icon on the toolbar—your cell phone, for example—to
see the syncing options available. Turn on the check boxes you want, and then click the
Sync Now button. After asking what you want to do with each kind of data—"This is the
first time you're syncing your book marks. What do you want to do for this sync? (Merge,
Keep, Erase?)"—iSync does the deed.
Tip: In iSync, choose iSync Preferences and then turn on "Show iSync in menu bar."
From now on, you can get the syncing under way by choosing Sync Now from the yin-
yang arrow menulet on your menu bar.
iSync is smart when it comes to resolving conflicts among your gadgets. For example, if
you edit somebody's home phone number on your Palm, and your spouse simultaneously
edits the same person's office number on the Mac, iSync smoothly incorporates both
changes into all copies of your address book. Unless you and your spouse both change
the home number in different ways; then iSync presents a Resolve Conflicts button. Click
it, and choose which info you believe should prevail.