FAQ by Lisa
Gade., Editor-in-Chief and Mac Geek, January, 2003
Which PDAs Play Nice with the Mac?
OK, I'm a Mac addict, and started my career in high
tech as a Mac developer back in the days when the Mac Plus was state
of the art. I've come a long way since then, and so have Macs! And
as much I adored the once venerable Newton,
PDAs have evolved into complex little beasts who may or may not want
to make nice with your Mac.
PDAs that Sync to both Mac OS and Windows PCs Out
of the Box
With the exception of the Sony
Clié line, all Palm OS PDAs come with Palm Desktop for
Mac as well as Windows in the box. Even Palm OS Smartphones like
the Kyocera 6035 can sync to the
Mac, though you'll have to download Palm Desktop for free from
Palm's web site. Palm Desktop is the software that runs on your
Mac and serves as an address book, calendar, tasks manager and
notes app all in one. It's also what syncs with your Palm OS PDA.
Just plug in the USB cradle or use IR or Bluetooth if you have
it on your Mac and Palm, and you can sync, install apps and backup
all the info on your Palm. Cool. This means you can buy any Palm
Inc. or Handspring (both Visor
and Treo) and you'll be set. What about the Clié? Don't
lose heart because there are a few inexpensive (sometimes free)
ways to sync a Mac and Clié. That's great news because the
Clié line offers some of the best screens, MP3 players and
cutting edge features available on Palm OS PDAs.
Jaguar and iSync
Jaguar (Mac OS 10.2) has a nifty new app called
iSync. It can sync your Mac to an iPod, cell phone (via Bluetooth)
or Palm OS PDA. It even supports the Clié. You'll still need
to install Palm Desktop 4, so have your CD or downloaded version
ready. You can download iSync for free from Apple. iSync will sync
your Palm OS device calendar and to-do's with iCal, and your address
with the Mac OS X address book. If you prefer to have your info centralized
in Palm Desktop, the iSync probably isn't the way to go.
Sony Clié does Play with Macs
Why Sony decided not to include
Palm Desktop for Mac with the PDAs is beyond me! They are my favorite
Palm OS PDAs and offer a lot of great features for the money, so
I'm glad that there are reliable ways to get your Mac and Clié to
be best buddies.
1) Always try the no-cost method
first! For both Mac OS 9 and X: download Palm Desktop for Mac from
Palm's web site, since you won't find it on the CD that came with
Install Palm Desktop, then connect the cradle and see if you can
sync. Some folks have luck with this working with no added software.
2) MissingSync. If
that doesn't work for you, you aren't alone, That's why the folks
at Mark/Space developed
a marvelous program called MissingSync. Believe me, it's worth the
$30! There are both OS 9 and X versions (you get both), and it will
mount Memory Sticks on your desktop just as if they were hard drives,
and in OS X, integrate with iTunes and iPhoto so you can very easily
send your MP3s and favorite photos to the Clié from you Mac.
It also supports all standard Palm Desktop features and conduits,
so all your PIM data will show up in Palm Desktop, and automatic
backups will work just as for other Palm devices, and of course you'll
be able to install new apps on the Clié using your Mac. This
is what I've used for the past year because not all of the Cliés
we have passing through our offices play with my Mac, I love the
integration with iTunes and iPhoto, and the "no fuss, no muss" syncing
Unfortunately, the Sony CD comes
with a lot of Sony desktop programs for the PC that you won't ever
see or make use of. These are photo editors, sound editors and
album makers. But don't feel too bad, because you can use iTunes,
iPhoto and your favorite shareware sound editor to do all the same
tasks, and the Mac apps have a much friendlier user interface!
Most all of the add on programs for the Clié are on the
CD in PRC format, so you generally won't need to worry about dealing
with Windows .exe installers.
These PDAs, running Microsoft's operating system, snubbed
Mac users for years. There was just no way to get these guys talking.
Virtual PC does not fully support ActiveSync. In 2002, things changed
when PocketMac hit the scene. Initially, it supported only the iPAQ,
and was a bit buggy. Since then it's been expanded, refined and can
work with a variety of Pocket PCs (see the PocketMac web
site for complete model listings). Version 2.0 supports Jaguar, as
well as older versions of Mac OS X and OS 9.
PocketMac Pro costs $70 and syncs your PIM data
(contacts, calendar, tasks, notes, but NOT email) to your choice
of Entourage, Outlook Express or Exchange Server 2000. If you're
running Jaguar, Entourage, or iCal + OS X Address Book is recommended.
You can also drag Word and Excel files, as well as MP3s to and from
your Pocket PC in the Finder.
MissingSync for Pocket PC Mark/Space,
the same folks who developed MissingSync for the Clié, announced
a Pocket PC version at MacWorld SF in January 2003. Given how excellent
the Clié version has been, I can't wait to see it and review
it! Just as with PocketMac Pro, you'll be able to mount the Pocket
PC on your desktop as if it were a hard drive. Like MissingSync
for Clié, it integrates with iTunes and iPhoto, making the
job of transferring images and MP3s to and from your Pocket PC
a breeze. Stay tuned: it should be out Q1 2003, and it will likely
cost less than PocketMac Pro. You can read preview information here.
What's the catch? If you want to install
3rd party apps on your Pocket PC, you may have trouble finding
installers that aren't in .exe format. PocketMac offers a CAB extractor
that can generally extract Pocket PC programs from Cabinet files,
but many Pocket PC software makers are moving away from CAB files
towards .exe installers because they're friendlier. If you are
a Mac-only person, this is a drawback. However, if you have a PC
available at work, or even a friend who'll let you use their PC
once in a while, you can get around this problem. Pocket PCs, like
Palm OS devices, can sync with more than one computer. Pocket PCs
and their desktop software, ActiveSync, support both standard partnerships
(syncing of all data) as well as Guest partnerships, where no personal
data is synced. This means you can use a public work PC or a friend's
computer to install software on your Pocket PC while in Guest mode,
without leaving any of your PDA's data behind on the PC. Note that
if you run Virtual PC, it won't help matters, because the installers
look for the Pocket PC in order to complete installation. ActiveSync
still doesn't work well with USB syncing under Virtual PC.