Wirelessly Sync Blackberry with Outlook Calendar for Free
If you're anything like me, you are addicted to both Outlook Calendar and your Blackberry. I honestly cannot remember how I ever made plans before them. Unfortunately, Outlook and my Blackberry don't love each other. Sure they'll sync when I tether them together via USB, but otherwise they don't talk.
For those lucky users with corporate Blackberries and BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server), this tutorial is not for you. Your calendars are already quite friendly and sync wirelessly. But for those of us with consumer Blackberries using BIS (Blackberry Internet Services), we have to work our own magic to get our calendars to sync.
Don't Pay the Fee...
If you want to take the easy road or have more robust capabilities (such as syncing tasks, memos, and more), there are companies out there that have solved this problem for you. Some of them essentially set up a BES for you and let you transfer your data through it. Others use an application that runs on both your computer and Blackberry to do the wireless sync. Here are just a few you might consider checking out:
- Link2Exchange - BlackBerry Wireless Sync
- Nexthaus - SyncJe for Outlook/BlackBerry
- OfficeCalendar Mobile for BlackBerry
- Baseline Data Systems - Office Accelerator with Wireless BlackBerry Sync App
- ExchangeMyMail - Wireless BlackBerry Enterprise Service
- Syncamatic Live! + Outlook
The major downside to all of those methods is cost. You already bought your phone and continue to pay for your service and data plan. Why would you want to pay an additional monthly fee for wireless data syncing? Fortunately, there is a free way to synchronize your calendars without paying a cent.
...Do It for Free!
Fortunately for us, the folks at Google have provided us with all the tools we need to set up a completely free way to sync our calendars. It involves a two-step process of first syncing Outlook with Google Calendar, then syncing Google Calendar with your Blackberry (and vice versa). While this does introduce a small delay (~15 minutes), it's much faster and more convenient than connecting your phone to your computer.
I'd like to point out that while you must have a Google Account for this to work, you never actually have to access the Google tools after the initial set-up. I personally prefer the additional features of Outlook Calendar so I seldom, if ever, view my calendar through Google. But I guess it's nice to know I have a third location to view the same calendar.
So now that you understand what we need to set up, let's see how it can be done.
Google Calendar Sync
The first step is to download and setup Google Calendar Sync. This is a small application that automatically runs in the system tray of your computer. Once the program is running, you simply need to enter your Google Account information and choose your sync option. Remember, if you don't already have an account, you will have to sign-up with Google.
There are three settings for the sync: 2-way, 1-way from Outlook, and 1-way to Outlook. You will want to choose the 2-way setting to ensure you can add and edit appointments on either Outlook or your Blackberry. You will also want to set the time between syncs to a relatively small number. The minimum is 10 minutes, but anything below 30 minutes should be sufficient.
Google Sync for Mobile
For the second step, you need to configure your Blackberry to also sync with the same Google Calendar. At this step, you actually have two possibilities: configure your Gmail account to also sync your calendar or install the Google Sync app. Despite the ease of simply changing your email settings, I would recommend using the Google Sync app. It is more robust and faster. But both methods will be described below.
BIS Email Settings
If you already have your Gmail account configured in your phone, you can set it up to sync with your Google Calendar. Or, if you just created a Google Account, you will need to add a new email account to your Blackberry. Simply follow these steps:
- Go to your "Email Settings"
- Choose/Add the appropriate email account
- Select "Edit"
- Scroll down and expand "Synchronization Options"
- Select the box next to "Calendar"
- Save and exit
Once these steps have completed, your phone will begin to sync with the Google Calendar and thus your Outlook Calendar. Don't be surprised if the sync is very slow. It varies by carrier, but most people have complained it can take hours for appointments to sync.
Note: if you use multiple Google Calendars, only your main calendar can sync with this method.
Google Sync App
This is the preferred method to sync your Blackberry and Google Calendars. The app will automatically send any changes to the Google servers almost immediately and regularly poll for updates you've made off your phone. Also, the app is capable of syncing with multiple Google Calendars if you have more set up in your account. To use the app, follow these steps:
- Navigate to http://m.google.com/sync in the Blackberry browser
- Download and install the Google Sync App
- Enter your Google Account information
- Adjust the synchronization settings and select calendars as desired
- Ensure "When To Sync" is set to "Automatic"
- Save and exit
That is all you have to do to get your Blackberry and Outlook calendars to sync! If events ever are not showing up properly, you can check the Google Sync App for the last successful sync. Periodically it may be necessary to re-enter your information.
Do NOT attempt to use both of these methods at the same time. If you want to try the other, ensure the original one is completely disabled. Otherwise you will get an endless loop of calendar entries being added and re-added.
Also, use the "Contact Sync" options in both methods at your own risk. In my experience I have had it generate endless duplicate entries that were a pain to delete.
And That's It!
With the easy two step process, your calendars will finally be synced whether you are on your computer or out and about on your Blackberry.
If you have any troubles, questions, or alternative suggestions, let me know in the comments below!
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