Nov 21

If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch you’ll want the latest information available on each one as well as on your Macbook and iMac, whether it be at work or home.  There are a number of ways to synchronise different kinds of information, here’s my suggestions as to the best solution for each area that needs syncing. 



Use Apple built in Address book (OSX) and Contacts (iOS) and they sync over iCloud.



Use built in Calendar app on your iPhone and OSX, and sync via iCloud.


Notes Option #1:

Notes app

Use Notes app on your iPhone and computer – they sync with iCloud.


Notes Option #2.

Use Notational Velocity (on the Mac) synced with Simplenote (iOS). This is a beautiful combination and superior to Notes in many ways. For more info see here.


Why I use 2 notes apps:

I find it handy to have 2 separate Notes apps.  My Notational Velocity currently has 748 notes in it: song lists, research material, bits of computer code and so on. It’s more of a reference file.

I have a much smaller set of notes (about 10) that I sync with my wife. For this I use the built in notes app synced over iCloud to both our phones.  She would be overwhelmed with all my other notes!

Therefore Notes only has a few files, eg house cleaning plan, lists of presents, our shopping list.  When I go shopping my wife can add items from home while I am shopping and I will notice them in the shopping list!

Mail Accounts


Do it manually or use iCloud if you want.

You can setup your computer and iPhone to use  any email provider that you want (eg Gmail, Hotmail, Apple mail or whatever) and the mail will sync across.  Just be sure to use IMAP (not POP) when you set up your mail. Then the emails can sync across all your iOS devices and computers just from your mail account – you don’t need iCloud or anything.

What iCloud does when it comes to mail is that it syncs the Mail Account information (username and password etc) to your iPhone. It doesn’t sync the actual email. So you can enter the settigns by hand, or use iCloud to sync your settings.


 ToDo lists

Advanced: Things

Things is my favourite here but it is NOT CHEAP!  There are many, many other free options available.

Things wins hands down if you are into organising your life via to-do lists GTD (Dave Allen) style. (I have hundreds of to-do’s in Things and it’s not cluttered.)



Simple: Apple Reminders

If you want a simple free solution to store just 10 or 20  to do’s then Apple’s built in ‘Reminders’ will do the job and it will sync across to the to-do list in ‘Calenders’ on your mac.




Photostream will make the last 30 days worth of photos available to any iPhone, iPad and computer (up to a max of 1000 photos).

(1) Turn on ‘Photostream’ in iPhoto on your computer under the iPhoto top Menu called  ‘Preferences’ –> ‘Photostream’ tab then click the ‘My Photo Stream’ checkbox.

(2) Turn on Photostream on your iOS device under  the ‘Settings’ –>  ‘Photos & Camera’ –> ‘My Photo Stream’ –> (ON).

IMPORTANT: You need to make sure this only syncs photos when you are on wi-fi or else you would use up lots of data.

To turn on Photostream over cellular phone network (or check that it is in fact turned off!) you need to check BOTH these settings:

Settings –> iCloud –> Photostream (ON)


Settings –> General –> Cellular –> Use Celllular Data for –> iCloud Documents (ON)

If both these are on, photostream will work over cellular network.


Receipts (Photos)

No solution!

I have been looking for a simple app that will sync photos of receipts across from the iPhone to the computer for all purchases that I make. Evernote was the closest I came but it lost half my photos in the sync so I don’t trust it. Bento is too clunky. There are numerous ‘Receipts’ apps but they either don’t sync or are too cumbersome. I’m open to suggestions!!!


What is iCloud?


iCloud is Apple’s sync solution. You can sync your email settings, Address Book, Calendars, Notes, Photos and Keynote/Pages documents over iCloud.  It’s very robust (unlike Apples earlier attempts such as MobileMe) and fast.



19 Responses to “How to sync information between your Macintosh computers, iPads and iPhones.”

  1. Katie says:

    I currently have two (older) macbooks, an ipad that I have never synced to my laptop, and an iphone… :/ none are exactly “new” and I have different music on everyone… if I sync my phone with one computer (that has a different Itunes library) will it erase the music from my phone?? is there a way to combine all of these “libraries”…??! I need to un-complicate my mac life!! Help!

    • Wayne says:

      Easiest way is probably to subscribe to iTunes match for a year for $29 then all songs on all computers will be synced. Otherwise you’ll need to copy them from all the computers to one of your computers and sync the phone to that one.

  2. Sergio Mindlin says:

    How can I sync Contacts between my wife’s and mine devices (iPhones, iPads and Mac), since we have separate Apple accounts? We use two separate iCloud accounts.

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2013 Wayne Connor. All rights reserved. | Hosted on Click here to find out why.