Blog Post

Break Away From MobileMe: 7 Free Services to Help You Make the Move

Apple’s replacement for .Mac has had a very rocky start, and has a long way to go before its ready to compete with free alternatives. Many users do not want to move away from MobileMe because of the deep integration with the Mac desktop, while others are reluctant because its hard to find another single service that provides all of the services that MobileMe does. If the latest outage has you ready to jump ship, here’s a guide to making the break.

Mail: Gmail

Making the transition to Gmail is very easy. Gmail allows you to use POP3 to download all of your existing mail from MobileMe into Gmail, and Gmail also allows you to send email as [email protected] allowing you time to migrate slowly. With instant search, integrated chat, nearly infinite storage, and an extremly fast interface, making the switch to Gmail not only replaces MobileMe Mail, it makes your email overwhelmingly more enjoyable.

Calendar: Google Calendar

Using the mail substitution above, its a simple click away to use the excellent Google Calendar. The web interface is excellent, but if you are an iCal user, Google Calendar provides a very simple way to migrate all of your existing calendars off of MobileMe. 

First, create blank calendars on Google Calendar to mirror each MobileMe calendar you use today. Next, simply follow the instructions here to sync your Google Calendar to iCal. Finally, drag and drop your calendar events from the local iCal calendar to the newly added Google Calendar. Once all of the calendar events are moved over, delete each of the iCal calendars. Give Google a second to sync everything up to their servers and then check the web interface. All of your calendars should be available.

Address Book: Plaxo

Plaxo not only syncs your address book contacts to their web service, it also keeps your contact information current with others who use their service. Plaxo includes a plugin for the Mac’s Address Book that makes the sync painless. It can also sync to Gmail’s contacts, Outlook, and a host of other services.

iPhone Bonus! If you’ve got an iPhone, you can sync Address Book directly with Google, bypassing Plaxo. There’s also a clever hack to enable this ability without an iPhone, but, being unsupported, the next Mac OS update will probably wipe it out.

Gallery: Flickr/Picasa

There’s certainly no shortage of photo sharing web sites available.  Crowd favorite Flickr is a great choice, and with the $24 FlickrExport tool from Connected Flow, you can upload directly from iPhoto.  Flickr also has a ton of social media capabilities, and the ability to integrate into other online services.  If you’d like to keep with one provider as much as possible, Google’s Picasa is another great photo sharing site, which also has a free iPhoto plugin to upload photos.

iDisk: Amazon S3

This is another area where there is certainly no shortage of competition but I ultimately chose Amazon S3 + Cyberduck for my online storage needs. Box.net is another strong option; however, my initial tests found very poor WebDav capability. Amazon S3 can be a little complicated to set up, but at only 15 cents per gigabyte, the price is hard to beat, and there is an active developer community creating new applications for accessing S3 all the time.

Sync: Mozy

Mozy provides 2 gigabytes free online storage, and their Mac client integrates easily with the desktop. The utility installs as a menu item, and offers pre-configured “Backup Sets” for many common items like Address Book, Apple Mail, Keychains, and Firefox or Safari bookmarks. It also offers to backup your entire Documents, Music, and Movies folders. With the Backup Sets feature I set up a custom Yojimbo set by selecting all of the files in ~/Library/Application Support/Yojimbo. Mozy also allows you to specify a specific file or directory that you would like backed up.

Sync Bonus! If you are using Firefox as your main browser, Foxmarks can sync both your bookmarks and passwords between multiple machines, regardless of operating system. I use it to keep my browsers in sync between my Mac at home, and my Windows XP laptop at work.

iWeb Hosting:  Google Sites

Google Sites gives you a very simple and easy way to setup a web site for sharing stories, photos, and movies with friends and family. While not as all encompassing as an iWeb site, it still gets the job done. If Sites is not really what you are looking for, consider setting up a free blog site with WordPress.com. If sticking with iWeb is a necessity, simple, low volume web hosting with a company like 1and1 or Dreamhost is relatively inexpensive, and can give you full control over the content, look, and feel of your site.

Breaking away from MobileMe is not a decision to be taken lightly, but by taking an objective look at exactly what you want out of an online service, the move can be relatively painless, and surprisingly enjoyable.

51 Responses to “Break Away From MobileMe: 7 Free Services to Help You Make the Move”

  1. voiceOreezn

    Unlike the uber cool die hard mac devotees….

    Some of us don’t want to buy into everything apple. I actually have a mac, a windows box, a linux box and an ipod touch. I used to have an iphone, but traded that in for a Droid X, which is FAR superior.

    The problem with mobileme, is that apple wants to force you to use everything apple. So….mobileme won’t sync with a droid, no matter how much you try.

    Add to that the fact that when I did have an iphone, an upgrade to the os wiped out a large chunk of my contacts, on both my mac and my iphone. In addition, that same os upgrade disabled notes syncing. The sync issues with mobileme are extremely well documented, and while I have no problems paying for a service, when I do…I expect it to work.

    Google on the other hand….works perfectly and syncs cross-platform, so my data remains intact on my mac, pc, droid, etc. When you take Google apps into account, it’s far superior to mobileme.

  2. justintime

    For all those that bitch about the article can continue to pay to MobileMe.
    “Not worth my time to set up…” give me f****** break, what are you some CEO and your child’s iphone needs to be synced up with your busy schedule? How much time did you spend reading this article?Should we send you a check for your ‘busy time’ wasted?

    If you are dumb-ass and can’t figure out how to set things up then enjoy the iProducts as they thrive of incompetent people like you who gladly pay for bits of service. You are getting ripped of and don’t even know it…much like the day you bought your mac. Enjoy!

    Thanks for posting this article, very handy. I didn’t realize Amazon has dropped their pricing so low. Thanks for the roundup!

    • Johnnboy

      The realdumbass is the person who feels he needs to setup 3,4 7 or whatever different services, paste them all with glue together, just to try to “emulate” (because in the end that’s all you’re doing) the fantastic job and sleek presentation that mobile me has.. Really, why would I do all that (even if I was a computer whiz and it took me 5 minutes to setup all the other services) to have a grotesque mutant hybrid, when I can have this beautiful looking service which not only looks but works wonderfully? Really now, no justification unless you’re a bum or a student with no money…

  3. taildrag

    Cut the guy some slack, you jack asses. He’s just offering suggestions here for those who might be looking for a free solution(s) to move away from MobileMe. That’s all. Sure Apple is going to have the better, more integrated solution, but one said, “You ‘should’ absolutely do this – screw Apple!”. Folks who might need to save a few bucks and have the time to try out an alternative might just find this information useful. Jerks.

  4. My google email accounts have the largest amount of server contacting issues of all the emails I’ve ever had, and it still happens regularly. MobileMe had a bit at first, then great, none since.

    MobileMe is costly, but very convenient, and I worry about relying on Google heavily, I can see a large trap happening in a few years….

    It’s not just Apple apps that use MobileMe easily either, many others do (RapidWeaver etc) and that makes other bits of your digital life easy too.

  5. I started using fruux since i read about it in the comments. It works really exactly like the syncing offered by mobileme. hope to see some in depth coverage about their service soon. would be nice to see a review from people with more clue :-) all i can say is that it works without any issues.