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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries Apps
Snow Leopard only hintI have run into situations where I may have to maintain Address Book entries between multiple systems. Here is how I do it using a MacBook Pro, an iMac, an iPhone, a Blackberry, and a Windows PC.

  • All of the Macs run 10.6.x
  • One of your Mac has the complete -- and final-- contacts list. This is what will be replicated everywhere.
  • You have a Gmail account.
  • You have a Mobile Me account. (I wish I could do without this.)
  • A PC running Windows XP/Vista/7
  • A Blackberry.

Gearing up

On the Mac that has all your contacts (we will call it Mothership), back up your Address Book. You can do this by opening Address Book and going to File » Export » Address Book Archive. Save this in a safe place. Then create a Group VCard. To do this, Select All Contacts within Address Book and then choose File » Export » Export Group VCard. Save this VCard to your desktop.


Now, delete all contacts from all of your systems, including the Mothership. This would include contacts on your Windows PC (Outlook or Address Book or Contacts), your Blackberry (you would need to use the Blackberry Desktop Manager to do this), your Gmail account, your Mobile Me, and any other system that you wish to sync with.


On your Macs, configure the MobileMe preferences (within System Preferences) to sync contacts (apart from anything else that you may want). This can be done within the Sync Tab.

Syncing Address Book with Google: This can be done by opening Address Book on your Macs, navigating to Preferences » Accounts, and checking the 'Synchronize with Google' box. You will also need to click on Agree on the drop-down agreement, and then enter your GMail username and password. Note: Google sync only happens once every hour. To change this, you need to change the Start Interval parameter in the file found in ~/Library/LaunchAgents folder.

Repeat these steps on all your Macs, then sync your iPhone Contacts with Mobile Me. To do this, follow these instructions for either your Mac or your PC.

To get your Blackberry into this sync circle, download Google Sync utility on your Blackberry. To do this, go to Google mobile on your Blackberry, and download the Sync application. Run this Google Sync application (which will require you to log into Google using your Gmail username and password). Set up the Sync Contacts section to sync automatically.

The final part

On your Mothership Mac, log into GMail and navigate to the Contacts section. In here, click on the Import button (usually on the upper right corner), and then on the Choose File button. Navigate to the Desktop and select the Group VCard you exported from Address Book. Complete the import process by clicking the Choose button. This may take some time, depending on the size of your Address Book VCard and your bandwidth.


You could manually start the sync on your Macs using the Sync Now option in the Sync icon in your menu bar. Your synchronization should now start with all entities in this order: Google » Blackberry and Macs » MobileMe » PC and iPhones. The sync order will depend on the time when each various sync process starts up. Once everything is in order, any change in any one entity will sync all others.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one.]
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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries | 20 comments | Create New Account
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Why MobileMe?
Authored by: TF on May 14, '10 08:04:34AM

Why do you need MobileMe to accomplish syncing between any of these devices? Can't you do it all with Gmail and Google Contacts? I'm not opposed to MobileMe, but the submitter seems to want to avoid it.

iphone -> exchange to Google
Macs -> address book to google
blackberry -> sync app to google
PC -> ?? Maybe this is the reason?

Seems like there ought to be something for the PC from Google.

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Why MobileMe?
Authored by: dayhox on May 14, '10 09:29:04AM

2nd that

Illustrator, Designer, Maker

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Why MobileMe?
Authored by: auco on May 14, '10 10:22:07AM

I honestly hate it when my friends give away my personal contact data to Google (T_T)

Please hold on to a sec and think about the privacy of other people: the information in your address book is not your data, it's the data of your friends and colleges.

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Why MobileMe?
Authored by: TF on May 14, '10 05:05:19PM

FWIW, I wasn't advocating using Google for syncing. I actually prefer MobileMe because of privacy issues.

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Why MobileMe?
Authored by: TvE on May 15, '10 02:16:25AM

Not many people think about data security / privacy these days ("if I can get from A to B with a few click's I'll just do itů")!

I am truly amazed how many are using misc. online services for sensitive data, not thinking about the consequenses IF (when) a security breach occurs.

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Why MobileMe?
Authored by: rajivpillai on May 15, '10 07:33:29PM

The Google <-> PC sync sanity was the bone of contention and MobileMe was far more reliable !!

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Why MobileMe?
Authored by: everkleer80 on May 21, '10 05:15:55PM

Am I the only one that thinks it's kinda crazy that Apple has a reliable way to sync with Windows, but Microsoft won't give its users a way to sync with anything except for their own devices?

Anyway, security issues aside, I think you could use the free service Plaxo to eliminate the need for MobileMe.

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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: bcamp1973 on May 14, '10 08:04:52AM

I've had so many bloody problems with MobileMe Sync that I don't know where to start. I've tried this (sync with google) in the past with disastrous results. MobileMe or AddressBook or both merge unrelated contacts together or delete them completely...and I've tried everything to fix it. The Apple discussion forums are crammed with posts describing issues with Sync flakiness...

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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: rajivpillai on May 15, '10 07:39:40PM

I'd second that couple of months back, but right now I'm the happiest man on earth for the flawless sync that happens. The only issue that still remains is how each of these services look at every line item that could sometimes overwrite certain data.

However, I'd hope that all developers ( OS X, MobileMe, Google, Blackberry & PCs ) adopt the latest standard and provide updates to their client software.

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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: TrumpetPower! on May 14, '10 08:19:56AM

The fundamental problem is one well known to developers: the very idea of “syncing” is royally bj0rked. It’s why syncing of source code was abandoned ages ago.

Instead, what you need is version control. Basically, it’s a log of all the modifications, and you can easily go back and forth in time to pick and choose what you want. Exactly like Time Machine, but with changes coming from multiple sources instead of a single source.

Until our “personal productivity” databases support version control in a manner as easy for the non-literate to use as Time Machine is, syncing will be an endless source of woe and misery.

What surprises me the most is that the developers working on MobileMe (and the like) seem to be so completely oblivious….



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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: DCJ001 on May 14, '10 09:39:51AM

How To Get MobileMe For Free Using Google and Dropbox

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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: Anonymous on May 14, '10 12:05:28PM

Good, but note the missing features: Find my iPhone, contact photos, and the Web creation crud.

But if (like me) you don't already have .Mac I mean Mobile Me, the above guide is useful.

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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: mithun on May 14, '10 10:49:21AM

Really ... all that hassle? Just use soocial (

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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: davidduff on May 14, '10 12:42:50PM

your instructions say "repeat these steps" for all macs, and it appears that you mean this to include turning on both mobileme and google sync. this makes me nervous. are you confident that there are mechanisms in place to track changes and to prevent problems with the two sync systems trying to "fight" each other?

example: i get sync hooked up on multiple macs between both mobileme and google and let's say it's initially stable. let's say i make a few changes to some contacts. these changes propagate out, racing to my other machines via two separate channels. updates could other machines via google first or via mobileme first. whichever one gets there first could trigger another update going to the opposite service. so for example, if the changes propagate to other macs via mobileme first, then google may see a bunch of updates for the same contact coming from multiple machines. can it tell these are the same change? or will it flag these as conflicts? can you be assured that the final result will converge to the desired state in all cases?

if all these changes are being propagated by a single "smart" architecture designed for multi-system sync (isync perhpas?), then perhaps it will "do the right thing" in terms of how it handles changes, however i am slightly skeptical regarding having cyclical dependencies in your sync chain.

anybody have experience with living with this configuration for a while? does it work reliably? are the underlying sync technologies smart enough to track things at the level of specific updates (with unique id's or timestamps)?

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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: rajivpillai on May 15, '10 07:45:29PM

You are absolutely right. The only thing I forgot to mention was that you need ensure that the Time is synchronised on all systems & handhelds. Again, it doesn't have to match second to second since there will hardly be a time that you would edit the same contact on multiple systems or handheld at the exactly same time.

So, this has worked for me and anyways, I have the archive in case some stupid update somewhere screws up things.


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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: transeau on May 14, '10 02:29:31PM

My solution was to use MobileMe to sync my Desktop, Notebook and Phone. Works perfectly. No PC's or Blackberries to screw up the process.

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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: operator207 on May 16, '10 01:00:39PM

I have spent many days attempting to have something like this. I ended up just running an exchange server (2010) to sync my MBP (10.6) and my iphone.

It took awhile, running the exchange server behind a firewall, with one port open to the exchange server. It relays off my server running FreeBSD that is on the same ESXi server. Ya, probably overkill for the everyday user, but I have perks from my work, and decided to use anything I had to get a good sync going.

I am not advocating what I did above, as it would be pretty expensive for one account. However, I had the means, and thought I would share how I was able to sync. Obviously the above would sync a blackberry and definitely a PC (running Outlook that is)

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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: brucio on May 17, '10 11:04:18AM

I'd be curious to know if running Address Book Server on OS 10.6 Server would avoid sync problems on compatible systems.

I may try this, mostly because I have yet to find a satisfactory method to keep my Mac and phones synced up. Now Contact Server worked for my Macs, back in the day. Don't get me started on MobileMe- it's very frustrating when you have to depend on email support to fix your contact database.

Edited on May 17, '10 11:05:35AM by brucio

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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: lairdo on May 17, '10 05:48:49PM

Regarding Snow Leopard Server's Address Book Server - I had hoped this would work too. Unfortunately, the iPhone does not have the ability to link to an Address Book Server yet. There are speculations on the Apple message boards about this being in iPhone OS 4, but no official word.

Address Book Server is relatively easy to set up by the way. I wanted to use it as a central address book for my wife's small company.

There is a program at that is supposed to work too, but I haven't tried it.

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10.6: Sync contacts to Macs, PCs, iPhones, and BlackBerries
Authored by: whisper99 on May 18, '10 08:47:00AM

Plaxo is much better at syncing cross platform. I have mobile me but still use Plaxo to sync my contacts. Plus other plaxo users in your address book will automatically be updated when they change their contact info. Finally it is free.

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