Clearing up iPhone sync confusion

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Reader Simon Tanner was caught unaware by the not-entirely-clandestine relationship between his iPhone and Yahoo. He writes:

After some fairly insistent prodding I upgraded my Yahoo! webmail to the latest beta offering. When I logged in and took a look at it I was rather surprised to find that those little notes I write to myself on my iPhone are suddenly out there in the “cloud.” Though I like technology, I find it is becoming increasingly insidious and what you thought was private really isn’t—and your permission is not asked first. How do I reclaim my notes?

Allow me to giveth with the right hand before I taketh with the left.

Right hand: Syncing with the cloud can be confounding so I’m not surprised that you’re perplexed by what’s happened. I’m hopeful that should Apple get serious with this rumored iCloud business, this kind of syncing will be both more reliable and easier to comprehend.

Left hand: However, you had the power to prevent this from happening from the get-go.

When you set up a Yahoo e-mail account on your iPhone in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars setting, after the verification step, you see a window that includes three entries—Mail, Calendars, and Notes. Those On/Off toggle switches next to each entry tell your iOS device whether to sync that particular flavor of data with Yahoo’s Website. In your case, I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that if you choose your Yahoo account on your iPhone you’ll find that the Notes switch is set to On. This is not the default setting when you create an e-mail account so I’m afraid that this is something you did when creating the account on your iPhone. Fortunately, it’s easily undone. Just flick the slider to Off and your notes will no longer be synced to Yahoo.

While we’re clearing up that bit of confusion, I should point out that the Sync Notes entry you find in the Info tab when selecting your iPhone in iTunes’ Source list has no effect on cloud syncing. Rather, it’s for syncing notes with your computer.

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At a Glance
  • A gorgeous display, high-quality camera, and fast processor are the best reasons to buy Apple's latest iPhone.


    • Gorgeous high-resolution screen
    • Fast A4 processor with lots of RAM
    • Easy-to-use FaceTime videoconferencing
    • 5-megapixel camera takes great stills and good HD video
    • Longer battery life than previous iPhones
    • Support for iOS 4 features, including multitasking


    • Hand placement can disrupt cellular signals
    • Glass front and back could prove overly fragile
    • Not able to play back HD video to external display
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