Synchronize all my devices: make my life easier

 all my devices: make my life easier

Disclaimer: Com o propósito de partilhar esta informação com um universo de utilizadores mais abrangente, este artigo será redigido em Inglês.


A few days ago I started to figure out a way to synchronize my emails, contacts and calendar on all my devices. I know for experience that this task can turn out a pain to accomplish and sometimes people simply ignore it and either keep their data only on one device or keep updating data in all devices in a redundant and effortless way.

In present days there are many available tools to allow data availability to IT users. Such examples are Apple iCloud, Google Drive, SkyDrive, …There are more “muscle” cloud services available, like the one in this article of PC Mag.

Well, first of all here’s a list of my devices:

  • iMac – Mac OsX Lion v10.7.5
  • iPod touch 4 – iOS v6.1
  • Android Cell Phone – Android OS, v2.3.5 (Gingerbread)

My main goals in this task is to synchronize:

  • Gmail account (in Mail) with iPod and Cell phone; 
  • Apple Address Book contacts with iPod contacts and Cell phone contacts;
  • Calendars in iCal with iPod calendar and Cell phone calendar

Note: for this purpose I don’t want to sync any of my documents .

In order to sync my data I used google as my central tool to handle all the process. With google I also have the advantage of having all my data available online through google web services.
Take a look at Google sync, the portal to the synchronization process. 

Alert for Apple’s
If you’re lucky to only have Apple devices, you may consider using iCloud, a simple way to sync all devices. One of the drawbacks of this approach is that you can’t sync contacts with google at the same time.

So, let’s get start!!!
Note: trough out the post I will summarize the configurations, i.e. instead of giving all the details of the configurations, I will point out some links where you can find all the steps.

Gmail account

Synchronize gmail accounts within multiple devices is as task that have been around for so long now. Google has a lot of info and a knowledge base on how to do that.

Enable imap on gmail account

First of all, we need to enable imap on gmail account
Once that is done, the next step is to configure mail clients. In my case I need to configure Apple Mail, iPod touch and Android

Click here and enable the proper options. Follow all the steps in order to get your configuration.
Check out this article on how to make Apple Mail to play nice with Gmail.

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

Follow this steps to add a google account to your android: click here.

After this steps, your gmail account is set up to work in all your devices. Remember that once you enable imap, your email will be synchronized between different devices.
Gmail account: check

Address Book Contacts

Dealing with contacts can be really a pain when you have multiple sources like the address book in the computer, the contact list of the cell phone, … On top of that, all have experienced when losing a cell phone or damage it, the trouble that is to recover all the contacts. 

To simplify my way of handling all my contacts I decided to merge all together, i.e. merge the cell phone contacts with address book and google contacts (if you have contacts on iPod, you may need to merge it too).
I used Apple Address Book to organize all contacts.

Export cell phone contacts -> Apple Address book

First, export the contacts on android to SD card. Click here to see how it’s done.
You will end up with a VCF file which you can import to Apple Address book. Just double click the file and it will ask you to import.

Export Gmail contacts -> Apple Address book

Second, export the contacts on Gmail. Click here and follow the steps (make sure you chose vCard format).
You will end up with a VCF file which you can import to Apple Address book. Just double click the file and it will ask you to import.

During this process if a waring message come up stating you have duplicate contacts, no worries. 

Export iPod contacts

The contacts I have in the iPod are the same in Apple Address book. They are synchronized  trough iTunes, so there’s no need to export.

Merge contacts in Apple Address book

Now, you have all you contacts in Apple Address book. Great!
Address book has a tool to look for duplicate cards (Menu: Card, Look for duplicates…). 
This will do most of the work, but it is common to have the same person with different names in both contact lists. To handle this out, you have to go one by one. (I have around 500 contacts and it toke me a couple of hours to merge all the contacts, but in the end it worth all the effort. You only have to do this once and it will save you a lot of time in the future.)
In the end, you should have only one entry with one or multiple contacts for each person/entity in your list (at least this is the best way I see it to keep things neat).

Sync Apple address book with Gmail contacts

Now let’s give google some work to do. 
At this point we will sync all the contacts in Apple Address book with google. 
Note: If you want a fresh start on Gmail contacts, you can delete all you contacts in Gmail. Just make sure you they are already in Apple Address book.

This is a very easy step. Just look at the following links:
If you still have contacts in Gmail contact list, a message may show up to resolve duplicates conflicts. This is normal and keeps from having duplicates in Apple Address book and gmail contacts.
Once everything is properly syncing between Apple Address book and Gmail, the next step is to sync Gmail contacts with the other devices.

Sync Gmail contacts -> iPod IOS

This is very simple. Just add a CardDav Account to you device and voilá!

Sync Gmail contacts -> Android cell

When you added the google account before, it should set up the option to sync contacts, calendars and picasa. In android you can configure the account sync settings and display options: click here.

Important: Make sure you set “Save new contacts” to Google in the contacts options, in order to maintain the list consistent with all other devices: click here.

That’s it! Your contacts are all set up.
This way, every time you add a contact in your Android cell, it will show up in Gmail contacts,  and then in Apple Address book and also in iPod. 
It doesn’t matter where you add or update contacts, they’re all syncing all around. Isn’t that great!?

Address Book Contacts: check

Calendars iCal

I like to use iCal to manage my tasks and events. iCal can work with google calendars which come in handy, because that way I can access my calendars everywhere.

Enable Google Calendar in Apple’s iCal

Let’s start by syncing Google calendar and iCal: click here. (make sure to choose the correct version of iCal)
After completing all the steps, your google calendars will show up in “Calendars” under “Gmail”. So far so good!

iCal bugs

I’m using iCal v5.0.3 and there are a few bugs that when I found out a workaround, kept my usage of iCalendar pleasant:

a) unable to create new gmail calendars (keeps returning a server error…)
Well, it is simple. I just create the calendars I want on google calendar web site and that’s it. after that I can use those calendars on iCal.

b) when creating a new event within a google calendar it kept changing it to a default iCal calendar and doing so it don’t sync with google.
To solve this issue, I created a new calendar “on My Mac” and changed the iCal default calendar to it. So every time I create a new event it will be created under this calendar. After that I just have ti change it to the Google calendar I want and that’s it.

Beware that the calendars “On My Mac” don’t show up in google calendar. That’s why I opted to create all my events under google calendars.

Sync calendar with iPod IOS

Usually after adding a Gmail account to IOS v6.1 it will enable the option to sync calendars. If for some reason, that doesn’t happen, you can add a CalDAV Account: click here.

Sync calendar with Android cell

When you added the google account before, it should set up the option to sync contacts, calendars and picasa. In android you can configure the account sync settings and display options: click here.

Calendars iCal: check


The amount of data we handle these days and the variety of devices in which we access it can easily turn technology against us. Instead of saving us time, our tech devices consume the few hours left in a regular woking day, by forcing us to keep everything in order.

The aim of this tech article is to help people sorting out ways of saving time and turn they’re data in an high availability status. I hope it will be of use to the ones which experienced the same constraints as I, and other as well. Even if you don’t have the devices or software versions mentioned in the beginning of the article, it is still to consider some of the ideas and processes presented. 

Finally, comments and suggestions are welcome to improve this text.

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