Saturday 15 October 2011

Gmail Contact Sync: Mac, iPhone, iPad... [UPDATED]

How to keep your address book synchronized across an iMac, MacBook, iPhone and iPad...

Easy when you know how - but step 3. had me fluxmoxxed until I spotted it!
  1. Set Gmail as your Sync source in the Address Book on the Macs.
  2. On iPhone and iPad, select Exchange sync, and ensure contact sync is turned on.
  3. On the Macs, press the task bar icon showing a circle with two arrows
    • Now click Sync Now.
    • If Sync Now isn't offered (Sync is Disabled instead), then open the iSync application and re-enable sync.  You may need to disable syncing with a non-existent device: I had an old Nokia phone set to sync over bluetooth, and now that phone has gone, it was simplest to just disable sync for that handset rather than waiting for iSync to time out on it.
With iOS 5, you also have the option of using the iCloud to sync all your Apple devices together, instead of using Google.   I will try this sometime, as I have found that using Google to sync your contacts has limitations.  Specifically, if you create a Contact in the Mac Address Book application, then you are limited in what labels each phone number can have (if it is to sync successfully to the hand-held Apple devices).

On iOS 5 devices, you can force an early Contacts sync by opening Contacts, then pressing the left arrow if necessary to get to the Groups view.  Then press the refresh icon (curly arrow button) in the top left of the screen.

Using Google for your Contact Sync, a Contact can use fields with the following labels (set in the Mac Address Book application) :-
    - Home
    - Work
    - Mobile
    - Home fax
    - Work fax
    - Notes.

But, don't use these labels (as they don't sync to your iPhones etc) :-
    - Main
    - iPhone
    - Other
    - "Custom" ones (that you make up in the Address Book program)

Also, don't use enter more than one number with the same label (as they don't all sync to the iPhones).  So where people have two mobile numbers, the second mobile needs to be entered as 'Home fax' (say).

Presumably, these limitations arise from the Mac Address Book contact data being adjusted to match Google Contacts when changes are uploaded.  But if we use iCloud, then presumably by virtue of being an Apple-only solution, it shouldn't matter what labels you assign to each phone number - as there shouldn't be any cross-vendor field mapping translations going on during the Sync process.

Can anyone confirm whether iCloud is better than Google Contacts in this regard?   That is, if you use iCloud, do all possible field labels sync correctly across all Macs, iPhones, iPads and iPods Touch?

See also my other post about keeping email folders in sync:

1 comment:

  1. Not really, for me as the heavy gmail user because all my contacts stored in gmail address book as primary. Therefore, when in iCloud i would need to export all the contacts to there before everything.


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