Thursday, December 09, 2010

Synching your N900 with Google (Mail, Contacts, Calendar) with no third-party tools or service.

Today I was thinking...that it's time I keep my phone in sync with my Google stuff (e-mails, contacts and calendar)

I started by clearing up my Google Cntacts ( as they'll be later loaded into the device and because it's much easier to work from a desktop than from the device itself.
If you already have (and most probably that is the case here) contacts on your device, I'd suggest to export them in a file, mail them over to yourself and load them in Google).
Google contacts also helps you spot duplicates, but it's not the perfect tool in the world, so go scan your contact list once more.

As for the Calendar, be warned that only the main Google Calendar will be synchronized over. I cleared that a bit and moved a few events over.

I then went on the N900 and cleared the N900 calendar. You can skip this step as explained later.

To sync Mail on your N900 you have two valid options: use regular Gmail account in the default N900 Mail client (Modest) or use Nokia Messaging. The latter brings push e-mail, but if you don't care, then just set-up a Google Gmail account and you're done.
Also Nokia Messaging brings you a better control on when to synchronize your e-mail (like which days, what hours, if in roaming, minimum battery charge and intervals).

I configured IMAP on Google Gmail and configured which folders (labels in Google terminology) I wanted to sync. Registered with Nokia Messaging and entered my Gmail credentials. On the N900 it's just a matter of selecting Nokia Messaging and enter its credentials.
What's cool it's that Nokia Messaging shows as one single mail account in Modest, but it can be configured (on the Nokia servers) with multiple mailboxes (Nokia's terminology for Mail Account). I do let him handle my account as well.

For Google Calendar and Google Contacts I use the Mail for Exchange (MfE) client provided with the N900 itself.
This client is really picky (it's a bug, but that's all we have) so follow the instructions carefully.

First of all it expects a clean calendar and a clean contacts roster.
You don't have to do either now.
Anyway, start MfE and enter you Google credentials. Note that "User name" HAS to be your full e-mail address (actually I didn't without the suffix, but that's what the whole Internet agrees upon). Leave Domain empty.
On the next screen type in:


Leave the other untouched:

Port: 443
Secure connection: Tick

On the next screen UnTick e-mail (we've already covered that and it won't work anyway).
Leave calendar, tasks and contacts ticked.
As "First synchronization" choose "Delete items on device" (I found out it needs it, you may be lucky and try to leave them, but if you exported and loaded them on Google, you won't need them there now anyway).

On the Next screen tap on Advanced and scroll down to "Calendar and tasks".
If you didn't delete the N900 calendar as above, you will need to use a different one.
Tap on "Calendar" and choose "Create new". It will create a new "Mail for Exchange" calendar when synchronizing.
Keep in mind that if you get any errors and need to re-start, you NEED to have a clean calendar (either manually delete it from Calendar or Create a new one).
I never ticked completed tasks, so I am not sure it works.

Click on Save and go to the Next page.
It should synchronize everything with no errors.

When it has completed, tap on Finish and then on Details, sometimes it doesn't sync Contacts, if that is the case, tap on Synchronize Manually, it should sync them this time.

Unfortunately in my case, MfE forgets the configuration when I close it, so I don't know if it works stable over the days.
But before closing it I did try to update contacts and calendars and they were correctly kept in sync everytime I clicked on Synchronize Manually.

So, there you have it, hoe it works for you as well!

PS: later I'll update the post with screenshots and clean it up a bit.


Luca said...

Hi, great post!
i try this some time ago (a bit after pr 1.3 update) and all work great but after some day sync process give an error ("MfE cannot contact server" or something similar) and the only way i found for reatart is delete calendar and contact and restart. all ok for some day but the error appear again.. probably MfE is not well implemented for google service or have some bug that make it very "thin".. so i stop to using sync :-(

Gabriel said...

I never found MfE to work very well with Google. I used syncevolution once to get my google contacts on my phone (after much fighting), and I use Erminig for everyday calendar sync, the developer is back and alive, fixing bugs and accepting patches.

Unknown said...

Thanks Luca, I'll try to figure that out once I can setup MfE and leave it there!
It always forgets the configuration :(

@Gabriel, I know about several other ways of syncing, but I also like to use as much as possible pre-installed apps, so I am giving this a second try. Thanks though :)

m said...

I had the same issue as Luca. It works OK, then for some unknown reson, it doesn't sync anymore.

I can't decide if it's a hurdle on Nokia's side, or if it's me for using a service that requires MS Exchange. The latter being anything but "open"...

Anonymous said...

On my previous attempts to sync google with MfE, i always get some sucess on the begining. Then after my conversations plugins (MSN, Skype, etc) generated dups entries, i used the merge option on n900 contacts. And after that... no more sync. Always that.

Anonymous said...

OK, basically MfE has been working with Google for a while. The number one issue I am experiencing are wrong birthdays in the contacts metadata, though. Has anyone found a solution for this yet? (see BMO #8697)

Unknown said...

Same problem for me!
I gave up and I set up the account with nuevasync which has a fair cost and works great!!

Luca said...

this issue is explaind here:
if you search in "google sync" you can find a solution similar, but they say that if you make 5 or more modification to calendar or contacs the sync fail.
And you need to remove al contact/calendar entry and restart the sync. This make the MfE system unusable.
i need to sync everytime i insert/mod a contact or insert a new calendar entry. this is not always possible, so you nedd to keep in mind the numbner of mod you make before sync... not very usable.
(excuse my bad english)

Unknown said...

Uhm interesting stuff guys...
I'm a sure I will suffer from the same issues and probably I'll have to switch to third party apps myself :(
I tried once erming, I may go with that.
I like Nuevasync and it's understandable they ask for a fee, but I don't need this sync stuff so bad that I am willing to pay for it.

Luca said...

Nokia have all we need.. with addrerss book and calendar and maps.. and on-the-fly sync with this features.
we need that nokia make this "ancillaries
" enabled for N900 phone.
i hope this was enabled in next firmware upgrade.

Unknown said...

I think there will be no next update, no PR1.4 :(

And Nokia Ovi Suite only works for Windows :/

Luca said...

The only hope remain the meego migration that probably remain unsupported from Nokia but have a large community support...

Unknown said...

I've also noticed that MfE on the n900 'forgets' your configuration after some time, and I filed a bug report on a while ago.

(Please everyone vote for the bug if you've also noticed this issue?)

Anonymous said...

Using this syncing method about one year now, with no problems. Very rarely I get an error with the sync (happens sometime when the net-connection is changing), but then I only do the manual sync one time and it´s on again, or I just leave it, and it syncs by itself again.

William said...

Clear calendar and contact. Set MfE, first sync is good, manual sync is good. When I close MfE, MfE lost conf. Is a some news for this problem?

Frank said...

Here is how I got N900 to sync with Google contacts.

Luca said...

Hi, have someone hard try this latest solutions?
it work really for long time and more than 5/6 mod in contacs/calendar witout errors?