For a long time there were few options to address the frustrating problem of synching online and offline calendars with the Mac OS. You would have to enter items by hand in both iCal and whatever online calendar you use (Google Calendar for most people). If you were lucky you had a smart phone that worked with the iSynch option on the Mac OS, but most phones have issues with duplicate calendar items.
Now there are a few programs that have been created to address the issue of on and offline calendar synching. Three stand out among the rest for being reliable and accurate. All three work with the new OS X Leopard upgrade.
First up is Contactizer 3.6 from Objective Decision. This is an upgrade to their existing program to add multi calendar synching. This program does come in a free trial version to try out, and as a free upgrade for people who are already using earlier versions of the program. However, the price tag for continued use is a bit high for my taste at $54 and $119 (Express or Pro versions).
Contactizer was simple to install, but it took some coaxing to get it to do any real synching. It does multi program synching as well within the Apple environment, which is nice, but if you ar using Leopard you already have this ability as a feature on the system and don’t need to spend the extra money. Far overpriced if all you need is a simple calendar synching tool, this delivers more for your buck: contact, application, phone and calendar tools. Very difficult to uninstall.
BusySynch, by BusyMac, is our next tool. Much more in line with the simple on and off line calendar synching needs of most people running Leopard, this tool has two main functions. These are to share a calendar across a LAN network and synch iCal and Google Calendars. This also offers Bonjour compatibility for those who keep Bonjour turned on in Leopard.
The interface is simple and allows you to edit your calendars online. It faltered somewhat in the synching for me – if i had made an entry in iCal, it came up as a duplicate in Google Calendar. If I had made the entry online, there were no duplicates. That is an issue for me, as I barely have enough time to make the entries, much less to go back and fix them later.
One nice feature of BusyMac that other programs didn’t seem to have (or didn’t have in an easy to use fashion) was multiple user synching. Other programs will accept multiple calendars, but not multiple users. Also, the program was as easy to remove as it was to install. It costs $25 per computer license.
Last, we come to my favorite of the bunch, Spanning Synch. Spanning Synch is also a bit over priced for a calendar synching tool, but out of the three it was the only one to work flawlessly from start to finish. If you want to use it past the trial period, you will have to pay either $25 a year or $65 for a one time subscription. Unlike the other two options, this license works on more than one computer.
It took only moments to synch my calendars on and off line, and it is set to do do automatically. It lives in my tool bar, showing me when it is in synch mode. Some nice features of SpanningSynch include easy Growl and QuickSilver integration. When you play nice with two of my other favorite programs, and work flawlessly, you pretty win in m y book. Spanning Synch now has a permanent home on my machine.
Interesting to note, Spanning Synch was the only program to not have issues with the new Time Machine backup feature in the latest Mac OS X Leopard update. The other two caused problems with Time Machine and with .Mac synching, even though I don’t have a .Mac account. If you do have a .Mac account, then you can rest easy knowing that BusySynch and Contactizer both will work with it without your having to do a thing.