Summary:

Now that Apple has once again broken the Palm Pre’s ability to sync with iTunes as expected, folks are looking for options. I’m still cool with placing the phone in USB Mode and using drag-and-drop methods to move music, but not everyone wants a manual method. […]

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Now that Apple has once again broken the Palm Pre’s ability to sync with iTunes as expected, folks are looking for options. I’m still cool with placing the phone in USB Mode and using drag-and-drop methods to move music, but not everyone wants a manual method. Besides, it’s not really a data synchronization when you’re simply copying files from one place to another. You could use some of the options we’ve highlighted before: DoubleTwist is still my current fave, but MediaMonkey fits the bill as well. Still, I’m always on the lookout for other options, so I revisited and repurposed an oldie but goodie: SyncToy.

I won’t lie and say that SyncToy is as good as other dedicated audio applications, because it’s not. It doesn’t re-encode music nor does it manage your digital media. It’s just a simple tool to sync files in a folder from one drive to another in a Windows environment and that’s it. So why even consider it over the other options? Because it is an option and I believe in having as as many choices in my mobile toolbox as possible. Besides, if you’re already using SyncToy to keep other files in sync, this is an easy way to do the same with your iTunes music and a Palm Pre using software you already have. Actually, it ought to work with any handset that supports a USB drive mode, not just the Palm Pre.

So to get started, just connect your Palm Pre with a USB cable to a Windows machine that has SyncToy installed. Windows will assign a drive letter to the Pre, just as it would for any other removable drive. While you’d expect different drive letters to be an issue with this method, rest assured, it won’t be a problem. When I first thought about this approach, I figured it wouldn’t work because the Pre might be assigned a different drive letter upon each connection, depending on what other drive letters were in use. But the newest version of SyncToy can account for variable removable drive letters! Yup, if you set up a sync between the C: drive of your computer and the E: drive that is the Pre, for example, SyncToy will still work if the Pre becomes the F: drive next time. :)

With that information, it becomes easy to sync iTunes music by choosing the left and right folders in SyncToy. The left or source folder in my case is my iTunes Media folder on my netbook. The right, or destination, folder is one I created on my Palm Pre called Mobile_Music.

When setting up the folder pair, you can specify certain file types to include or exclude by using file extensions. If you have various file formats or DRM protected music, you can specify that you only want to sync unprotected MP3 files, for example. After all, why sync music to your handset that it can’t play?

I highly recommend using the Preview function of SyncToy pri0r to any synchronization. This function scans the folder pair and displays the file changes to both prior to actually making the changes. I only mention this because SyncToy has three different synchronization options: Synchronize, Echo and Contribute. Each of these handles deletions and such in different ways, so you’ll want to make sure you have this set up the way you want — Preview will go a long way to helping, because you don’t want to delete music on your Pre only to have it disappear on your source computer! ;)

Once you preview the results and ensure no issues, running the sync is just a button tap.

Obviously, this is a limiting, bare-bones solution and is really meant to sync an entire folder of music. All it does is keep audio files in sync between your Pre and a Windows machine. You won’t get playlists or any other fancy features. But it will get music on your Pre simply by connecting the device and running SyncToy. And it works both ways, so if you purchase music from Amazon’s MP3 store on your Pre, you could theoretically set up a folder pair to sync that music back to your computer. It’s not sexy, nor is it as fully featured as previously mentioned solutions, but it is an option — especially if you’re already running SyncToy for other file synchronization.

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