Syncing iCal Birthdays to Your iPhone

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One of the perplexing limitations about MobileMe is its inability to sync birthdays in iCal to the iPhone and iPod touch. As you may already know, iCal can take birthdays from Address Book and add them into a special “Birthdays” calendar, which is really a subscription calendar.

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But while the latest updates to MobileMe now allow for the syncing of subscription calendars from your Mac to MobileMe, their events are not pushed to iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s explanation is this:

When syncing subscribed calendars to MobileMe, the calendar information and settings for the calendar is synced, but all of the downloaded events are not. This is done to help streamline the syncing process with MobileMe, as it prevents syncing redundant information to other computers with an Internet connection.

Duh.

To get around this limitation, you can disable over-the-air syncing, and sync Calendar events via iTunes instead. But that defeats the purpose of paying for MobileMe’s push abilities. The other way is to export the Birthdays calendar that iCal has created and re-import it back into iCal as local calendar events. These birthdays and anniversary events will then be synced with MobileMe and, subsequently, pushed to the iPhone Calendar app. The problem is, you will have to do that every time you add a birthday to a contact in the Address Book.

Well, I’m happy to tell you that there is finally a solution that requires little to no effort on your part.

Dates to iCal 2 is a small application for OS X Leopard that reads birthdays and anniversaries from Address Book and writes them as regular calendar events into iCal. It does this automatically in the background; set it once and forget about it.

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In setting up Dates to iCal 2, you can customize in various ways how it should create events.

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You can choose to add either birthdays or anniversaries, or both, and specify only a certain group of contacts.

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You can customize the way event titles will be written, such as adding the age of a contact to his or her birthday event. To me, this feature alone is worth the price of the application.

And one very powerful aspect of Dates to iCal 2 is the many ways it can remind you of upcoming birthdays and anniversaries. You can set up to five alarms for an event, useful if you want, say, to be reminded each of the five days leading up to a birthday or anniversary. It can even send a reminder email to any of the email addresses in the Me card in your Mac.

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Dates to iCal 2 costs £3 (approximately USD $4.50) for a single license. Until Apple improves MobileMe, I highly recommend this well-designed and useful gem.

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