Mac Daniel's Advice

Connecting a Palm and a Mac

Korin Hasegawa-John - 2001.09.26

Most of this column is drawn from my personal experience. I have owned several Palm handhelds, most recently being a Palm V. Many Mac users have a hard time getting their Palm and their Mac to play nice together, including me. This is because Palm treated Mac users as second class citizens for a long time. If you have an older Palm, it's more complicated, but it can be done with a little patience and instruction.

This article covers the basics of adapters, software, and the like. If you're looking to find out how to get Outlook Express to sync with your Palm Mail program, this is not your article.

First of all, if you have a handheld made by Handspring or a Palm in the mXXX series, you are fairly well off. These handhelds use a USB cradle, allowing you to connect them to any Mac that has USB. If you have a PCI slot free, there are very inexpensive PCI cards that will allow you to add USB to your Mac.

If you have an older Palm, anything in the III, V, VII series or older, you need adapters. If your Mac has serial ports, get Palm's MacPac for $15. This includes a PC serial adapter and all the software you will need. If you have USB, you need an adapter. Again, Palm makes one, as well as Keyspan. If you do go with a third party, you can download Palm's Mac software for free.

Once you have all the adapters you need, hook them up to your Mac and to your Palm's cradle. Install the Palm Desktop software from the CD or from the installer which you downloaded, restart your Mac, and press the HotSync button once the Mac is up and running again. Your Palm and the software on your Mac should synchronize. If it doesn't, make sure all your port settings are correct (check under Setup or Settings under the HotSync menu).

Now that you have your handheld and desktop working together, there are many more things you can do with your Palm. You can read and edit Word, AppleWorks, and WordPerfect documents on your Palm, work on FileMaker Pro databases, edit spreadsheets, and more. Best of all, you can get any changes you made to appear on your Mac - and your files can always be synchronized with your Mac.

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