I work as a Mac and PC system administrator for a school. We have hundreds of Macs and dozens and dozens of teachers who use Macs.
One of the most common questions I get is, “How do I sync my Macs?” That applies to iCal, Address Book, Bookmarks, and other important documents. In this case, there are many ways to skin a digital cat.
Sync Me, Baby, One More Time
Synchronizing files between different Macs (at home or office) is either drop dead easy, or you’ll drop dead trying to figure it out. If you can connect two Macs on your home network, you’re almost there.
Let me avoid the dozen Mac apps that sync the Documents folder between Macs.
They’re not a dime a dozen, but they’re easy for what they do. What if you want to step it up to another level, and sync your iCal calendars, your Mac’s Address Book, even Safari’s Bookmarks?
Use MobileMe for $99 a year and it’s easy. Without the $99 it requires a special app and some configuration, though quite a few tools exist to do the job.
fruux Beta Is The Future
Alright, I live dangerously, and occasionally dabble in beta software—apps that don’t have a price tag, aren’t ready for prime time, might destroy all the data on your Mac, but have a future.
fruux is one such Mac app I’m trying out this week. It’s already at version 0.9.6.7 which is getting close the 1.0 which is still a point or two less than what I usually recommend to my teachers.
I understand why Apple doesn’t build this kind of functionality into OS X. First, it helps the Mac’s many software developers to provide an add-on where needed. Second, Apple makes more money with MobileMe.
fruux is an OS X system preference pane which, simply put, synchronizes your Mac’s Calendars, Address Book, Tasks, and Safari Bookmarks to other Macs. It’s simple to set up, simple to use, and—so far—it works quite well. And—so far—fruux is free.
All the basics are covered beyond easy installation. It’s fast, looks like a modern Mac app. fruux is 64-bit and uses Apple’s built-in SyncServices. All your account details are encrypted and store in your Mac’s system keychain.
What you get with fruux is a Mac app in development, but one that shows promise (more so if you like to live dangerously and try beta software). It keeps addresses in sync between Macs. It syncs your iCal calendars and tasks between your Macs.
Even Safari’s bookmarks are synchronized.
What fruux doesn’t do is exactly what you want it to do beyond those basic apps. It doesn’t sync Preferences. It won’t sync to your iPhone. If your Mac isn’t on your home or small office network, it won’t sync over the internet direct to your Mac, but uses fruux’s cloud service.
Conflict resolution is built-in, too—just to make sure you don’t duplicate data between your Macs. That’s where the beta software road gets bumpy. Sometimes I found duplicated data despite not having a conflict pop up in fruux.
I like fruux. And I like this new generation of Mac apps which are easy to set up, easier to use, focus on specific high need functionality and are worthy of time and effort.
Caveat emptor applies with any beta app, but this is a good start. A very good start. Do you sync data between your Macs? What apps do you use and recommend?