Is Your Data Being Synced Between All Your Different Devices?

One of the great advantages of using Apple products is the ability to seamlessly sync your data between devices (your Mac and your iPhone, say). Yet, I still get calls about how calendar entries on the Mac won’t update on the iPhone (or vice-versa), or that the number of contacts on one device doesn’t jive up with the other. Or changes made here don’t show up there. Or entire blocks of contacts are missing somewhere.

There are really only two serious players in this field – Gmail (Google) and iCloud (Apple). Understand that it’s a Coke/Pepsi, Mustang/Camaro, Beatles/Stones, Mary Ann/Ginger type of thing – people are generally more inclined to go with one over the other almost every time. So, for the sake of brevity, I’m sticking with these two here, although going with other providers is similar to enabling Google on your devices.

Let’s start with calendars: First of all, you have to understand the difference between SERVICE and SOFTWARE. As far as calendars are concerned, the ability of your appointments to be synced on multiple devices is a SERVICE. What you see on your computer or phone (most commonly, Apple’s Calendar app) is SOFTWARE. Think of this as an old-school way: A hardcopy calendar is analogous to the SOFTWARE; the physical writing of appointments on said calendar is the SERVICE.

OK, let’s take Apple Calendar app. (That’s the software.) Without any data in it, all it does is tell you what day it is. So, all you need to do is add the service.

But what is the service that syncs your calendar items?

OK, it’s (almost always) connected to some sort of email account. That could be Gmail (Google), iCloud (Apple), or any number of lesser providers. (I find Google and Apple to be the best options here.) If you’re using iCloud, it’s an easy setup. Pull down on the apple (upper left corner of the screen) and select SYSTEM SETTINGS. (Or SYSTEM PREFERNCES if you’re running a pre-Ventura operating system.) Click on your name at the top of the list, then on ICLOUD in the list. Under APPS USING ICLOUD, click on SHOW ALL (if Calendar isn’t visible in the list) and confirm it’s enabled. Similarly, on your iPhone (or iPad), tap SETTINGS and then your name at the top of the list. Tap ICLOUD in the list below, and SHOW ALL (if Calendar isn’t visible in the list) and confirm it’s enabled.

As far as Gmail is concerned, open the CALENDAR application on your computer, select SETTINGS (or PREFERNCES) under the Calendar menu (upper left corner of the screen, to the right of the apple) and then the ACCOUNTS tab. There, you can enter your Gmail account credentials and tick off ENABLE THIS ACCOUNT. On your iPhone (or iPad), under SETTINGS, scroll down to CALENDAR and tap ACCOUNTS. Here, you’re able to enter your Gmail credentials and have your calendar appear on your iPhone.

As far as contacts go, follow the same steps as above, except substitute CONTACTS in both instances for CALENDARS. Then, all should nicely sync!