Sync an N900 with a Mac over-the-air with Google

WARNING: Due to bugs in the n900 MfE support, this doesn’t seem to work reliably as yet. However, it does seem to be working for me, so far…

Got hold of an N900 this afternoon, so my first post on it’s rather a practical one. If I want to use it as my day-to-day device whilst I have it, I need to make the calendar and contacts go, so here we are…

This is a how-to for syncing calendar and contact info between an N900 and a Mac, via google. It’s based on my previous post for the N97. The mac side of things is the same, as are all the warnings. So go read that article first and set up the mac side of things as per that one. Again, let me stress this – read all the process before you begin, understand it, and the risks.

With the N900, and syncing using the exchange support as we are about to do, there are a few caveats.

First up, syncing with google is not officially supported (yet). But if you have an N900, that sort of thing’s not likely to stop you.. ;-)

If you enable contact merging for Skype, MSN etc IM contacts, it will break MfE syncing. This is covered in this bug.

There are bugs with recurring events. See this mighty thread here I’ve not read it all, or investigated this properly yet, but it’s worth noting. So far I’ve noticed that mostly they work, but I have some complex recurring events where some times are different etc. and it syncs these in, but doesn’t like editing them.

If you have a Google apps account, you need an additional step to enable syncing.

Now you’ve read that, I’ll repeat the N97 warning here. It’s doubly true for the buggy N900 MfE support.

IMPORTANT: First things first. You’re going to be screwing with your important contacts and calendar data. The nature of syncing means that often the fields used for data by Nokia/Google/Apple are different, so things may go wrong, and you may loose data. I am not responsible for this! And backup your data first!

Back up the Calendar and Contacts on your N97. You can do this with PC suite to a PC, or to the devices memory card. If anyone’s got a good link on backup/restore then post in the comments.

Backing up Addressbook (different in SL, see here)

Backing up iCal (and a different method as iCal is different in SL)

Backing up Google Calendar (I think that’s the right link, I didn’t need to do this)

Backing up Google Contacts

Finally, if you use google talk, make a list of your contacts. (I don’t know if there’s a way to automate this).

N900 Setup

The steps I took were based on Drew Frewman’s post here. So all credit to him. First up I’ll repeat a warning of his:

A note of caution:  For this sync to work your calendar must be empty.  If you have already used the synchronization tool to transfer the calendar data from your old phone to your n900 it will not allow you to write the Google calendar data from the server into it. The n900 calendar will remain as a local, unsynchronized calendar and you must create another calendar for synchronization purposes.  However, I believe this is not the best way to go.  Instead, if you have already transferred your calendar data from your old phone open the n900’s calendar, select all, and delete.  Then the Google server will synchronize its data with the N900 calendar.

However, based on some problems others have had, we’re going to create a new calendar for the sync, rather than use the existing “N900″ one, as some people report problems with this method.

First up, I’m assuming you’ve not run MfE before. I did this on a fresh device (thanks WOMWorld!).

We’re just interested in cal and contact sync here, so go to Settings->Mail for Exchange,it’ll ask you for email login details, put in your gmail account details for now then hit next.

Then it’ll ask for some server settings:

then the important options  are:

  • Server: m.google.com
  • Port: 443
  • Secure Connection: yes

Then you choose what to sync, uncheck “email” (well, you can sync that if you want, but that’s another issue).

Hit next, then you’ll be able to get at the settings proper. Key thing here is to choose the “create new” option for calendar:

Then off you go! The rest of the settings are up to you.

Run initial sync, then sync a couple more times manually to check it’s all sorted. To check the last sync, go back into MfE and hit “details”. You can also trigger a manual sync from here. As you’ve probably seen already you can also schedule regular syncs, which are the whole point of this exercise!

I made a event to test syncing back, but syncing then seemed to fail.  So I turned off task syncing, did a “full resynchronization” and then tried again, seemed to start working. But I think it’s flaky, as there’s no official support for google.

Once again credit is entirely due to others, I just collating the information here, mainly for my own benefit, and hopefully it’ll help others. The mac specific parts are as I said, the same as here.

5 Responses to “Sync an N900 with a Mac over-the-air with Google”

  1. [...] How to do something differently… « Sync an N900 with a Mac over-the-air with Google [...]

  2. [...] functions for that quickly. And I spent a lot of that first 24 hours working, or sleeping or doing other things with the N900. I wanted a trial N900 to answer the questions missing from other reviews. How easy is it to hack? [...]

  3. Very useful guide :) I’ve played around with a few different solutions and I’m now syncing the N900-google using Nuevasync. Well worth checking out – free for calendar and contacts but the premium service allows push email also and it’s cheap. All via MFE. Contact merging works fine too which was a requirement for me.

  4. Yeah, my next challenge is to look into Nuevasync and get that written up. Unless someone else has, then I can just link to it ;-)

  5. [...] you get from syncing your pictures with Apple Mac’s iPhoto…. and check out his initial post here, in which he gives detailed instructions about how to sync the N900 over the air to a Mac [...]

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