Separate music, synchronized data

Reader AJ Montes is looking for a little more togetherness on the personal data front. He writes:

My wife and I have separate music libraries on our separate accounts on our Mac. It’s a necessity that we work from just one set of entries from iCal and Address Book so that we can avoid the confusion of two parallel calendars and contact lists that may or may not be synchronized, though.

Is there a way we can use two separate iPods touches with separate music libraries on separate accounts and still share contacts and iCal calendars that exist on my account only without having to manually move over the entries between accounts?

Though it will cost you $99 a year, the most transparent solution I can think of is to join .Mac and use it to synchronize your contacts and calendars between the two accounts on your Mac.

However…

If you’re running Leopard on this Mac, wait awhile. Currently .Mac calendar syncing is B-R-O-K-E-N under Leopard. It works just fine on Macs running Tiger, but, again, with OS X 10.5, you’re out of luck.

When the day comes that it’s fixed for Leopard, or you’re still running Tiger, it’s pretty easy to set up. With the Mac logged onto the account whose calendar and Address Book you’ll use as the initial master (eventually both accounts will be able to add, edit, and delete events and contacts) go to the .Mac system preference, click the Sync tab, and check the boxes next to the Calendars and Contacts. At this point you can choose to have your contacts and calendars synced every hour, every day, or every week.

Click the Sync Now button and you’ll be asked to choose whether you sync all data from .Mac to your computer or your computer to .Mac. Choose to sync from the computer to .Mac.

Switch to the other account, launch its .Mac system preference, and in the Account tab enter your .Mac username and password (you don’t need a unique ID for this account, just use the single one you have). Enable its Calendars and Contacts entries and click Sync Now. If offered the choice to sync the computer’s data to .Mac or the other way around, choose to sync this account from .Mac to your computer. If you already have contacts and calendar data in this account, choose instead to merge that data.

And that’s pretty much the story. You’ve now synced your contact and calendar data between the two accounts. iTunes will happily place this synchronized data on each iPod touch while having no knowledge of the other account’s music library.

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