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Living as a Mac island in a sea of Windows machines at the office can sometimes be a challenge. Though Apple has made advances through simply enabling Mac OS X clients to attach to Windows networks, and mount shared file servers, third party devices are often the part of the ecosystem that goes forgotten – as Windows-oriented developers will sometimes overlook the Macintosh, assuming Mac users make up too small a part of the population to demand dedicated effort.
For too long, I thought my Blackberry, which I depend on for mobile e-mail, calendar, basic Web surfing, and address book functionality, was one of those devices that would never fully support the Mac. Living in parallel worlds, I had contacts and calendar in Microsoft Outlook on the Dell laptop, and simultaneously, a separate list of contacts in my Macintosh Address Book, and appointments in iCal. Updates on the Blackberry wouldn’t affect the Mac, and vice versa.
This all changed with Blackberry’s adoption and free release of PocketMac. Now that I’ve discovered PocketMac, my two worlds have been united – with the added bonus of synchronizing the data via .Mac to multiple Macs.
Like the Palm Desktop years before it, PocketMac offers the option to synchronize personal data between your Macintosh and the Blackberry, primarily focused on your address book and calendar appointments. But PocketMac is more flexible, offering to synchronize with a variety of desktop apps – including Apple’s Mail and Microsoft Entourage to iCal and the Now suite.
After installation, connect the Blackberry to the Mac via standard USB cable, charging the device, and you can configure it to your .Mac account by entering your user name and password, select which applications you want to synchronize, and simply hit sync. (As seen below)
Subsequent synchronizations will note differences between your local data and that of the mobile device, giving you the option to accept or decline the changes. In the below example, the Mac noted that the Blackberry had deleted a completed meeting. I had the option to restore it to the Blackberry, or delete it from the Mac. Having already sat through the meeting, and not wishing to repeat it, the Mac soon also had the appointment erased. (See below)
This brief interruption didn’t stop the synchronization, by any means. After I had made my selection, PocketMac kept humming along, until all tasks were complete – from e-mail to contacts.
Now, instead of two separate address books and parallel calendars, I have one universal data set, shared between my Blackberry, my Mac at home, my Mac at work, and the Dell laptop. Best of all, if you already own a Blackberry, PocketMac is a free download.