Windows Mobile phone setup part 4 – contacts

In part 1, I described how I got email syncing to my new smartphone. In part 2, I addressed tasks, and in part 3, I struggled through syncing with my Google Calendar. Finally, in this installment, I finish up with synchronizing my contacts.

I keep my contacts in Gmail, and they don’t change very often. As a result, I’m really not that concerned with synchronizing exactly, but I just want to be able to take the contacts from Gmail and copy them to my phone.

At first, I thought I’d be able to find a way to export the contacts from Gmail and import them directly to the contacts application on the phone. That ALMOST worked. Gmail can easily export your contacts, but the phone doesn’t have a way to import them I could find. Google can export in VCard format and two different CSV formats. If you take the VCard format and copy it to the phone, you can launch that file through file explorer. Unfortunately, the mobile contacts application doesn’t like a VCard file with multiple contacts, so you have to split that file up and add each contact separately. I don’t have that kind of time or patience.

The next thing I tried was using SyncML like I did for the calendar. ScheduleWorld is supposed to be able to synchronize with Gmail contacts, but I couldn’t get it working. Also, I really only want to export from Gmail and import into my phone, not synchronize. GooSync supposedly can sync contacts in the same way, but its a pay service so I didn’t try that.

Finally, what I ended up going with for now is something that isn’t supposed to work. I installed Outlook 2000 on my PC and set it up to sync with my phone only for contacts. ActiveSync 4.5 isn’t supposed to work with Outlook 2000, but it seems to be doing fine. To get the data onto the phone, I exported an Outlook CSV from the Gmail contacts page and imported into Outlook. Once the phone syncs, all the contacts are on the phone.

I haven’t closed the book on this technique, since I’d rather not use Outlook, but I was pulling my hair out trying to find another solution. I can’t believe there isn’t another way, so I might have missed something.

In closing, I’m still shocked how hard to was to get all this syncing working. I can’t believe I’m the first person who has wanted to do this. I have high hopes that in the future the techniques and technologies will come to fruition, and I can avoid using four different techniques and applications.

Of course, a lot of these problems could have been solved by just using Outlook. If they would have included a copy with my phone, I might have just used that technique and saved a bunch of time. However, I’ve learned quite a bit in the process of researching, and I’m excited to see what comes of all of this.

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