Troubleshooting .Mac iCal syncing

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Reader Turner Kellogg is unhappy with .Mac’s inability to sync his calendars. He writes:

For some reason I’m no longer able to sync iCal with .Mac on my home computer. When I try, I get a warning that tells me I have inconsistent data. I thought inconsistent data was the whole point of syncing! I’ve tried resetting the calendar in my .Mac preferences several times with no luck. I’ve also unregistered my Mac and then reregistered it to see if that would help. The next time I sync I get the same thing even though I have it set to replace the data on my computer with what’s on .Mac.

You’re on the right track, but you need to take it up a notch. By that I mean that you should try mucking with your .Mac settings on every computer configured to sync its data to .Mac.

That mucking takes this form:

Begin by making a backup of your iCal and Address Book data. I explain how to back up iCal toward the end of this entry. To back up Address Book, in Tiger choose File -> Back Up Address Book and in Leopard choose File -> Export -> Address Book Archive. Should you need this backup you can use Address Book’s Revert (Tiger) or Import (Leopard) commands to bring back your data. Now on to syncing.

On the Mac that holds your master calendar—the one where you most often enter events—pull up System Preferences and click the .Mac preference.

If you’re running Tiger, click the Advanced tab, select the name of your computer in the list of registered computers, and click the Reset Sync Data button. In the resulting sheet click the right arrow button so that you’ll replace any contact and calendar data on .Mac with the data on that Mac and then click the Replace button.

If you’re running Leopard, the process is similar. The difference is that you must choose the Sync tab in .Mac preferences, click the Advanced button, and then choose your computer and click the Reset Sync Data button. As promised, the data on your computer will replace the information on .Mac.

Repeat this process for other Macs you’ve synced with .Mac. However, this time be sure that when you ask your Mac to Reset Sync Data, you click the left arrow button, which tells the .Mac preference to sync the data on your computer with info from .Mac. With luck, you’ll no longer see the inconsistent data warning.

I mention “luck” because even though this technique should work, it doesn’t always. Some have found that they have better luck when they first hand-copy their iCal data from one Mac to the other. You can do this by choosing File -> Back Up Database (Tiger) or File -> Back up iCal (Leopard) to create an iCal Backup file. Make a copy of that file and take it to your other Mac. From within iCal on that other Mac choose File -> Revert to Database Backup (Tiger) or File -> Restore iCal (Leopard) and choose the backup file you created on the original Mac. This will cause iCal to replace all its calendars, events, and To Do items from the other Mac so be sure you don’t have any unique information in this copy of iCal. (And to be safe, you might want to create a backup file of this iCal’s data before replacing it.)

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