We live in the age of multiple computing devices—Mac, PC, iPhone, BlackBerry et al. So we need seamless synchronization of important data between devices.
We love our Macs. We love Address Book. We love Google’s free and easy Gmail. How do we get our contacts in Address Book to sync with contacts in Gmail? And make the whole shebang set it and forget it. How? Another Mac utility to the rescue.
Sync Me, Mac
My husband and I have two Macs (one each), a Windows PC (a notebook), and a couple of iPhones. Since dumping MobileMe a few years ago we’ve had to take more care in synchronizing data.
Syncman is one of a number of Mac utilities which synchronize data from here to there.
In this case, the here is your Mac’s workhorse, Address Book.
The there is Google’s popular Gmail which features a built-in contact list. What Syncman does is what MobileMe does with contacts in Address Book (without the $100 annual fee). It syncs from Mac to online.
The sync process is drop dead simple. Click the Account button to set up your Gmail information. Click Synchronize to upload or sync Address Book data.
You get three sync options with Syncman. Bi-directional sync between Gmail and Address Book. This option is what you’ll use most of the time, but it’s important to get both in sync to start.
The second and third options are one-way sync: From Gmail to Address Book or from Address Book to Gmail.
Unless you’ve gone crazy with Address Book customization, most of the contact fields should translate just fine from Mac to Gmail. Syncman can run in the Menubar and syncs can be scheduled.
Syncman can also display proposed changes before they’re made to ensure data integrity.
The real value comes in keeping your contacts synchronized without having to do anything. That’s the way MobileMe works. Syncman works in a similar manner. Preferences are easy to set. Choose how frequently you want to sync between Address Book and Gmail.
Syncman can also be set to synchronize automatically, without any confirmation.
What’s interesting about Gmail Contacts is how similar the set up is to your Mac’s Address Book.
The left column is set up with Groups—friends, family, co-workers, whatever. The next column displays the list of contacts in each Group.
Click on a contact and all the detail is displayed in the larger right hand column. Why doesn’t Apple make it easy to sync to third party services such as Google Gmail? Money. Apple charges $100 a year for MobileMe (which, arguably, does more).
If all you need is online sync and back up of Address Book, Syncman is a good start. But it needs a companion product to sync iCal to Google Calendar.