Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sync e-mail etc. on your BlackBerry to Outlook

Two friends have asked me how to sync their mail on BlackBerry without a BlackbEnterprise Server or hosted BES account. And they've said they're committed to Microsoft Outlook. So besides telling them to dispense with Outlook (which many would say) here's what I recommend:

1. Run all your mail through GMail--if you aren't using GMail, forward all your mail to a GMail account. You can continue to use Outlook or the equivalent and get your mail from GMail through an IMAP (rather than POP3) protocol. IMAP can be enabled just like POP3 when you set up a new mail account in Outlook (or the equivalent). With IMAP, everything on Outlook will be in sync with GMail, because that's what IMAP does (versus POP3). Within GMail you can specify a return address for each of the e-mail accounts that you have, so if you have work and personal e-mail addresses, and set yourself up to get those e-mails through GMail, you can also reply from the e-mail address that the e-mail came in on even though it's running through GMail. With Outlook, not so easy--you will probably want to stick with one e-mail account in the reply field when you set up your GMail account in Outlook, but it doesn't need to be the GMail account.

2. Don't use the BlackBerry mail program but download and install the GMail for BlackBerry mail program (LINK). Sure it doesn't push mail to your BlackBerry as efficiently as you're used to on your BlackBerry, but in my opinion that's a small sacrifice for always having your mail in sync.

3. Calendaring is a little trickier but it works. You can download a program for Windows machines that will sync your Outlook calendar to your Google Calendar (Google Calendar Sync: LINK). And then you can download the Google Sync program for your BlackBerry (a different program!) that will keep your BlackBerry calendar in sync with your Google Calendar--and then by extension, with the Outlook-Google Calendar tool via the Google Calendar Sync tool. Comprendez-vous?

4. Contacts used to not sync at all between BlackBerry and GMail . . . but now they do! See this: LINK. Challenge then is how to get them into Outlook because there isn't an equivalent Google Contacts Sync to complete the loop like there is with calendars. Without a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, you'll be stuck here using the cable and doing a manual sync with the BlackBerry desktop tool.

Make sense? Well maybe it WON'T if you look at this complicated diagram. Double click for the full effect.

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