One of the greatest things about the BlackBerry is how easy it is to sync your information between your handheld and your PC. The average BlackBerry user will most likely be operating a PC at home or work and sync using the BlackBerry Desktop manager or a BES account.
This is how RIM originally intended the BlackBerry to be used, and the process works flawlessly.
But what about BlackBerry owners who are part of the “other camp?” You know, the ones who forgo the popular option and choose to use the Mac as their primary computer? It wasn’t always easy or even possible. In fact, many Mac users spurned the BlackBerry because of this. Thankfully, this issue has been resolved. Mac users, rejoice! You can have your Mac and your BlackBerry, too.
Syncing your BlackBerry to a Mac
When syncing your BlackBerry to your Mac, you have two distinct options. The first is an application named PocketMac and the second is offered by Mark/Space, named Missing Sync. The PocketMac software can be downloaded for free, while Missing Sync costs $39.95. Each of these programs makes it incredibly easy to sync all of your vital information between your BlackBerry and your Mac.
However, it should be noted that Mac users running any version of Leopard prior to 10.5 should hold off on using the Missing Sync application until they have upgraded their OS.
For detailed information about how PocketMac handles your sync requests, check out the Pocketmac website and knowledge base.
So we have covered both traditional BlackBerry syncing and options for fancy Mac syncing. Great, but what about the “super users” who have both a PC and a Mac (perhaps one at home and one at the office), and wish to sync their data across both machines and their BlackBerry all at once? Is this even possible?
Well, good news and bad news. Good news: It is. Bad news: It isn’t easy.
Syncing your BlackBerry with both a PC and a Mac
The trouble here is that data is handled differently on the three platforms. Additionally, entering data on either the Mac, PC or the BlackBerry on seperate occasions (between sync) will create a problematic syncing schedule.
In order to keep all three machines up to date and displaying the correct data, you will need to be smart and organized. You will aslo have to put in a little work during the initial setup. The following issues seem to be the most common when attempting to sync between multiple platforms.
Managing your Calendar items
In many office-related software packages on both the Mac and PC, you are given the option of separating your scheduled appointments into various descriptive categories. It is important to know that the BlackBerry does not support this type of designation, and will therefore not be able to sync these specific details. Nor will it be able to pass this information on to other computers in your sync chain.
This problem is addressed by the PocketMac software, which creates a unique calendar named “Pocketmac”. Your appointments will be placed in this calendar during the syncing process. In the PocketMac advanced preferences you can dictate a unique calendar name and identify specific calendar events which shuld be associated with it. An example might be storing all of your work appointments in a calendar named after your company, or simply “work”.
Additionally, the PocketMac software will be able to track and synchronize calendar events which were stored in the standard “PocketMac” calendar and subsequently moved to another calendar on your Mac. So even if you muff up the process a bit at first, you can still salvage your calendar.
Remember to limit your wireless syncing
Most BlackBerry owners are aware that they can sync their data between their handheld and their PC wirelessly. If you have enabled this functionality, you will have to be sure to disable it whenever syncing those databases to your Mac. Once you have completed the sync with you Mac, you can simply initiate the wireless syncing again.
In order to turn the BlackBerry wireless synching on and off, you need to do the following. First, navigate to your contacts section and click the menu button or thumbwheel. From the menu that is displayed, select Wireless Synchronization and then select “change option”. Yes will leave wireless sync active, while No will disable it.
Before you activate your wireless synchronization again after a Mac sync, always double check to ensure all desired data was transfered according to your preferences. If it is not correct, re-sync with the Mac until everything is completed correctly. Once you are confident that all data has been transfered, go ahead and re-activate the wireless sync.
Avoid Duplicate Data Sets
Duplicate data is the most important problem you will face when attempting to sync your BlackBerry with more than one computer, let alone a Mac and PC. The problem occurs when you have manually made entries in more than one device between sync sessions. Another problem is the negative consequence of having information entered on more than one device which is formatted in a slightly differnet manner. An example would be an instance where you entered John Doe — 555.555.5555 into your BlackBerry and John Doe (555) 555-5555 into your Mac contact list. Upon sync, these would be treated as two unique data sets and result in a duplicate entry.
This is where the prep work and careful planning comes into play. Before you begin the syncing process, think about which device you use the most. Think of this device as your master device. Now, follow these steps exactly to get a nice clean synchronization between all three devices.
Sync your BlackBerry with your master device.
Sync your BlackBerry with your secondary device.
Sync once again with your master device (now all the data from all three devices is housed in the BlackBerry.)
Clean up any duplicate or incomplete records on your master device.
Sync your BlackBerry with the master device once again. (You will now have a clean data set on both your BlackBerry and master device.)
Sync your BlackBerry with your secondary device. (All three devices should now contain a clean and complete data set.)
Sync your BlackBerry one last time with both your Mac and PC to ensure that all three devices have the same data set with no variances.
Whew! That was a lot of work, but well worth it. To avoid having to complete this process again in the future, attempt to restrict yourself when entering new data sets. Attempt to enter new data sets only into your master device or your BlackBerry. This ensures that you won’t have duplicate data sets, and will allow you to cut out most of the seven steps above.
Now you are up to speed with some of the more important issues you will face when attempting to sync your BlackBerry with multiple computers and multiple operating systems. I hope this article helps you become more productive and less frustrated throughout your daily grind.