Other sync options
Products mentioned in this article
Although the methods I’ve outlined for syncing your data with MobileMe and Google are effective for most people, they aren’t the only means of keeping your data in sync between devices. A great many other syncing products and services exist. Here is a small sampling.
To sync your calendars between Macs—and even share them between users—without the need for MobileMe, you can use BusyMac’s BusyCal ( ; $49 per computer or $79 for a five-user family pack), an iCal replacement or BusySync ( ; $39 per computer or $69 for a five-user family pack) for syncing iCal data; or try Spanning Sync ($25 for one-year subscription or $65 for permanent license), which syncs multiple Macs with Google Calendar.
Tasks are one of the most perplexing types of data to sync, at least if you’re using an iOS device, which has no native app for to-do items, or Gmail, which offers no built-in mechanism for syncing to-do items with other services. However, resourceful developers have come up with some alternatives. For example, Innovation Technology’s iGTask for iCal ($20) syncs iCal’s to-do items with Gmail Tasks, albeit in a somewhat unorthodox way. The same developer also offers iTaskPro for iPhone ($2), a to-do list app that can sync with an OS X application called iTaskPro for iCal ($40) via Wi-Fi. Other popular task managers available in versions for both OS X and iOS (but without cloud syncing) include Cultured Code’s Things (OS X version, , $50; iPhone version, , $10; iPad version, , $20) and The Omni Group’s OmniFocus (OS X version, , $80 for individuals or $120 for family pack; iPhone version, , $20; iPad version, , $40).
If you don’t mind forgoing the Notes feature in Apple Mail and the Notes app on your iOS device, you have many options for syncing snippets of text between multiple computers and mobile devices. Examples include Simperium’s Simplenote service, which syncs with the Simplenote ( ) app on iOS devices and with Zachary Schneirov’s Notational Velocity on OS X, and Evernote Corporation’s Evernote, available as an iOS app ( ) and an OS X application ( ). All of these are free. Another option for Google fans is NoteSync, a $5 OS X application that syncs notes with Google Docs and will soon be available for iOS as well.
LastPass’ Xmarks service lets you synchronize browser bookmarks across browsers (such as Safari, Firefox, and Chrome), across devices, and even across platforms. The basic service is free, while a $12-per-year Premium subscription adds features and compatibility with the company’s free iOS app. However, Xmarks doesn’t have the capability of modifying Safari’s bookmarks on an iOS device, so on your mobile device you can only see the synced bookmarks within the Xmarks app itself.
For keeping personal data in sync between multiple Macs without the need for a cloud-based intermediary, one option is Mark/Space’s SyncTogether ( ; $50 for up to three Macs), which can sync Address Book contacts, iCal events and tasks, and Safari bookmarks, plus preference files, Mail settings, and other information. Another option is Eltima’s SyncMate. A free edition has basic features only; the Expert Edition ( ) costs $40 for a single license or $60 for a six-Mac family pack. This software lets you sync contacts and calendars with another device or with Google; you can also sync notes, Safari bookmarks, to-dos, and other data between devices (but not with Google).
[Senior contributor Joe Kissell is the senior editor of TidBits and the author of the e-book Take Control of MobileMe (TidBITS Publishing, 2010)].