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Syncing Google services with Outlook

Get your Outlook data to show up with Google services and vice-versa.

by Office Watch

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Using gSyncit you can keep a copy of your Outlook contacts, calendar, tasks and notes in your Google account.

Why would you want to do that?

Once your Outlook info is syncd with online storage it’s available to you in a range of new ways. Most commonly you can see the same information on a smartphone (Apple or Android).

Contact information on Outlook automatically appears on the smartphone. Changes you make to a contact (eg change of phone number or email address) are automatically copied between the Outlook, online storage and your portable devices.

If you use the paid Google Apps service you get a tool from Google to sync data with Outlook. Customers of the free service have to look elsewhere.

Several readers have recommended gSyncit to us so we thought we’d take a closer look.

There’s a free evaluation version available from here. It’s available for Outlook 2002 (XP) onwards and both 32 and 64 bit versions for Outlook 2010. The evaluation version is limited to one calendar, 20 items and there’s a short time delay before each sync.

Licensing is per computer with activations monitored (you get an email confirming each activation – Microsoft please note!). Price US$19.99.

The Getting Started guide is very good, in fact all the documentation is above average. We followed the steps and had gSyncit running in a few minutes. For each sync mapping choose your main Outlook folder (calendar, contacts, tasks etc).

All the calendar items, contacts and tasks appeared in the Google account like magic. A few changes and additions online appeared in Outlook after the next sync.

The only minor stumbling block during setup was an error syncing the Calendar. It turns out that you have to login to your Google Calendar online at least once to initialise it. Once that’s done gSyncit does its thing.

There are many options in gSyncit mostly under the relevant sync mapping then clicking on Edit

gSyncit - Settings image from Syncing Google services with Outlook at Office-Watch.com

The default settings worked well in our tests and there was no need to dig into the settings at all.

A look under the Sync options shows some choices that are worth keeping in mind.

gSyncit - Contact mapping settings image from Syncing Google services with Outlook at Office-Watch.com

The ‘Primary’ list will probably be the one in Outlook for most Office-Watch.com readers, assuming that your main list is in Outlook now.

The ‘Outlook to Gmail’ and ‘Gmail to Outlook’ options let you control the direction of copying. The most benefit is from two-way sync but you can copy in one direction only.

You can sync multiple calendars and contact lists between Outlook and Google.

Making use of gSyncit

Having cloned your Outlook data to Google’s online services what can you do?

Go online, login to your Google Account to see your Outlook info in a different way.

Google - accessing calendar, contacts and tasks image from Syncing Google services with Outlook at Office-Watch.com

The main benefit is the ability to sync between the online copy of your Outlook data and a mobile device. This means your Outlook contacts appear on your phone and should match with caller-ID for incoming calls. An appointment can be created or edited on the smartphone and it’ll appear online and on Outlook automatically. Google has a mobile sync guide for Apple devices where it’s supplied with iOS. Naturally, Google’s Android phones sync with their online services. Sync options are also available for Blackberry and Nokia S60.

The online storage also becomes an automatic backup of your Outlook data which is immediately available. If Outlook or the computer crashes, you can get to your ‘life’ from any browser or mobile device.

Google’s online services have features that Outlook doesn’t match (or Microsoft has caught up with later). Calendar overlaying was first available in Google Calendar and later Outlook 2007 got a similar feature.

Outlook’s Time Zone support has always been very poor however Google Calendar gives you the choice of displaying with a different time zone – this is handy if you are travelling or planning a trip.

Other online storage options

gSyncit also has the ability to sync Outlook notes with some online services such as Toodledo, DropBox, Simplenote and our favourite, Evernote.

What about email?

gSyncit doesn’t deal with sync of Outlook to Gmail for a very good reason. Outlook can already synchronize with Gmail using the IMAP protocol that comes with Outlook.

Google has setup instructions (same for Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010). Make sure that Gmail has IMAP enabled before you setup Outlook. Note that the port settings and encryption type are different from the Outlook defaults and do need to be changed.

Synchronization warning

Any synchronization of Outlook data by third-party programs can have difficulties. That’s one reason why Office-Watch.com has rarely written about them – we’re wary of anything that complicates the lumbering beast that is Outlook.

The most common problem is duplication of entries because the software thinks there are new items instead of changes to existing ones.

Thankfully these problems are rarer these days and we had no such troubles with gSyncit in our short trial. However it is something to keep in mind. The users who have sync problems are usually those with more complicated connection systems or try rearranging their data in unusual ways.

We suggest having a single link from Outlook to an online storage (Google, Office 365, Exchange Server etc) then linking any other software or devices to the cloud storage.

Article posted: Sunday, 22 January 2012

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