Like I said in the introduction to this series, we all know the iPod/iTunes combo is powerful for music and video syncing. You can keep a fresh circulation of music on your iPod using Smart Playlists and you can do videos pretty much the same way. But what about the non-music and non-video features?
This week we are going to look at one of those little extra features by taking a look at syncing your Contacts and Calendar to your iPod. There are two ways to do this, one is to use iTunes and the other requires you have your iPod in what is known as “Disk Mode” (this makes your iPod an external drive). To see how to put your iPod in Disk Mode, check out our article from a couple of weeks ago, iTunes/iPod Tips & Tricks: iPod as a Hard Drive.
Once your iPod is in Disk Mode and you can see it when you click on the “My Computer” icon, you can add contacts and calendar information to the iPod. If you goto the disk that references your iPod you will see two folders, Calendar & Contacts. You will be placing the data into these two folders.
For the Contact folder, you will need to place what are known as VCards into that directory. If your contacts are stored in Outlook, you can save a contact as a VCard. To do this, edit the contact and then click File, then click the Save option. This will allow you to save the contact as a VCard (vcf). You can copy the .vcf files to the Contacts folder on your iPod. After they are all there, you can view them via the Extras menu under Contacts on your iPod.
Calender appointments require that you save the calendar data in the iCal format. The iCal format is the format that Apple’s calendaring application (known coincidentally as iCalendar) uses. Outlook can handle this just fine. When saving calendar information from Outlook just make sure to select iCal as the format you want. Once you have an iCal file, you can copy that file to the Calendar folder on your iPod. Once the data is on your iPod, you can access it via the Extras menu under Calendar.
Finally the easiest way to get your data onto your iPod is to have iTunes automatically sync it. With your iPod plugged in, you will see a Contacts tab when configuring your iPod syncing options. Under this tab you can select from a list of valid, installed applications to sync the data from. Your selections are unfortunately limited depending on the operating system you are using, but Outlook and Outlook Express are handled just fine. Using this method will require that you have Outlook open, so make sure Outlook is open and iTunes is allowed access.
Outlook will tell you that another program wants to connect to it and ask your permission to allow that program access and for how long that program should have access.
That is all there is to it. It is nice that there are multiple ways to get your PIM information onto your iPod. While the iPod is far from replacing your PDA, it is nice to have an extra place where you can store such information. Especially since there is a high likely-hood that you will have your iPod with you where ever you go.
Next week, we are going to go over how to carry around some important information on your iPod in the form of Notes.