Migrating Data from Palm OS 3 and 4 Devices to webOS 1, 2 or 3 Devices

Through a very long string of back channel communications, I have received a question about moving data from a Handspring Visor Deluxe to a webOS device; I think it was a Pre.

There is no direct way to move data between a Palm OS device and a device that is running webOS.  Both operating systems were developed by Palm before being acquired by HP, but the underlying technologies are vastly different.  But there is still hope for people looking to move data from an old Palm OS device to a new webOS smartphone or tablet.

Keep reading for suggestions on how to move your data.

The easiest option is to work with a Palm OS device that is capable of HotSync’ing with Palm Desktop on a Windows XP machine.

You will need to start by downloading Palm Desktop if you don’t already have it installed.  Once you have your data synchronize with your PC, use the File > Export commands to backup your data.  You will need to do this for the Address Book/Contacts, Date Book/Calendar, To-Do List/Tasks, and Notes/Memos one at a time.  Backing up your data helps make sure you that you can get back to where you started if something goes wrong.

Next, you need to use the Data Migration Tool (DMT) to copy the data out of Palm Desktop and into a location that a webOS device, like the Pre, Pre2, or TouchPad can talk to.  My personal suggestion is to move your Palm Desktop data into a Google account, as webOS was designed to work with Google’s Gmail and Calendar applications from the very beginning.  All the directions that you will need can be found on the HP website for the DMT. (Select Palm Desktop for Windows and select your webOS device from the drop down list to get started.)

HotSync Guidelines for Windows 7, Windows Vista

Since getting back to (almost) daily Palm support forms moderation duty, I’ve been reading a lot of posts from people asking how to sync their Palm OS PDA, Centro, or Treo with Windows Vista or Windows 7.

The answer largely depends on what version of Windows you have installed on your PC.  If you are still running the insanely popular Windows XP, you can safely stay put with Palm Desktop 4.1.x or 4.2.

If you are running Windows 7 or Windows Vista, you really should be using Palm Desktop 6.2.2 by ACCESS.  This version is compatible with Vista and unofficially compatible with Windows 7.  (Neither Palm nor ACCESS have gone back and retested Palm Desktop 6.2.2 under Windows 7, but it does work.)

You can download Palm Desktop 6.2.2 from the Palm support website.  Be sure to read the release notes fully before installing the software on your Windows PC.  (By the way, Palm Desktop 6.2.2 does work with Windows XP.)

The tricky part comes in when you are running a 64-bit version of Windows XP, Windows Media Center, Windows Vista, or Windows 7.  There are no 64-bit compatible USB HotSync drivers available, so you have to jump through some hoops to make your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or IR enabled Palm OS device sync with your 64-bit Windows PC.

The good folks over on the Palm Support Community forums have written up a good primer on how to make your old Palm OS handheld or handset work with Microsoft’s newest desktop operating systems.

For more details on how to setup your Palm TX, T5, LifeDrive, Zire, Treo, or Centro syncing with Windows 7 or Windows Vista, check out the Palm Support Community forums thread: Windows 7 and Vista HotSync Instructions.  You’ll be glad you did.

MotionApps Demos HotSync Support for Classic

MotionApps, the company behind the Palm OS 5 emulation software for webOS, has posted a new video to YouTube to demonstrate the upcoming support for HotSync.

In the video, Motion shows how you will be able to HotSync the Classic software to Palm Desktop on your computer using a Wi-Fi connection. In the video, the person leading the demonstration appears to be using Palm Desktop 6.2 by ACCESS, not the older, Palm Desktop 4.1.4 or 4.2 that shipped with some of Palm’s most popular PDA handhelds and Centro smartphone.

I’ve purchased a copy of Classic because I’ve come to rely on DataViz Passwords Plus for keeping my personal data secure and available to me all the time. When the Wi-Fi HotSync feature comes to Classic I’ll be looking to resume using the Passwords Plus desktop application to help manage my personal data.

Check out the MotionsApps Classic HotSync demo on YouTube or click the video below.

Third-Party Developers Are Essential

I was recently reminded how important third-party application developers are to the mobile computing user community.

Back on September 7, Pimlico Software, the company behind the popular DateBK application and the indispensable DBFitIt utility released a small, freeware application referred to only as “PalmHotSyncSetup” that allows older Palm OS smartphones and handhelds to sync with Palm Desktop 6.2 by ACCESS for Windows.

When Palm released the ACCESS edition of Palm Desktop 6.2, it only provided support for the recent crop of Palm devices running Palm OS 5.4.9. This includes the Palm z22, E2, TX, Treo 680, 700p, 755p, and the Palm Centro. If your Palm OS device didn’t come with Palm’s enhanced PIM applications (Contacts, Calendar, Memos, and Tasks) it was not officially supported. Testing older devices from my personal collection revealed that some older “legacy” devices could be synchronized with the new edition of Palm Desktop. My testing lead me to give the Tungsten E and Tungsten T3 the Foleo Fanatics seal of approval for Palm Desktop 6.2.

My testing also verified that Palm OS devices, including the Palm Vx, Tungsten T, and the Sony Clie NZ-90 could not be synchronized to Palm Desktop 6.2. These devices could be synchronized with Microsoft Outlook however; an option that will cost customers an additional $110 or more if they don’t already have a copy installed on their PC.

Taking this information into consideration, my final recommendation on the situation was to use Palm Desktop 6.2 on Vista if you had one of the officially or unofficially supported devices. If you had an older device, I recommended that customers just stick with Palm Desktop 4.1 or 4.2.

Pimlico Software to the Rescue

Pimlico Software, a long time player in third-party application development for the Palm OS platform, earlier this month has released a free desktop utility that adds support for older Palm OS devices to Palm Desktop 6.2. By flipping some switches in the complex Windows Registry, a database of sorts where Microsoft keeps lots of settings for your PC, Pimlico turns on synchronization support for the older PIM applications: Address Book, Date Books, Memo Pad, and To-Do List.

This is fantastic news for Palm customers who have gotten amazing longevity out of their Palm handhelds running Palm OS 3.5 and later. With Windows XP no longer available to consumers who purchase a new PC from big box retailers like Best Buy and Circuit City, Pimlico’s software gives these customers a way to continue using their favorite Palm with Windows Vista. (There are issues with Palm Desktop 4.x and 6.x on Vista. Read about your options here and then pick your poison.)

Pimlico’s easy to use solution takes the risk and pain out of turning on, or off, the ability to sync with older devices. The contributions by Pimlico and others, offer customers the much-needed tools, tweaks, and fixes that manufactures are unable or unwilling to provide users with.

This is why I believe that third-party application developers are so critical to any computing environment.

Palm Desktop by ACCESS 6.2 Goes Live


Palm has released the non-beta version of ACCESS Palm Desktop 6.2 for Windows. This is long awaited news for Windows Vista customers who, for the better part of a year, have had to jump through hoops to get the Palm OS devices to sync with the latest version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

Before you download and install Palm Desktop by ACCESS, there are a few things you should keep in mind, as this is not the Palm Desktop that you are used to.

1. Palm Desktop 6.2 now works with all Palm OS devices running Palm OS 3.5 and later.

2. ACCESS has added an option to only install the HotSync Manager. Palm Desktop is no longer required.

3. The Palm Quick Install tool has been replaced by the Install Tool. Windows Vista customers will now be able to HotSync Palm OS applications (.prc files) and database files (.pdb) to their devices.

4. Microsoft Outlook 2007 is supported as a Personal Information Manager (PIM) application.

5. Since this application was developed by ACCESS, some things are not the same. The features that are no longer available are:

  • Palm Quick Install tool has been removed (and replaced by the Install Tool)
  • The VersaMail HotSync conduit is no longer available for USB cable HotSyncing.
  • The Birthday and Anniversary fields on your device will not sync to Palm Desktop. (This didn’t work on previous versions of Palm Desktop either.)
  • Color coding in the Calendar application no longer works.
  • 64-bit editions of Microsoft Windows is not supported.

Additionally, Palm warns on their website, that you check with software developers to make sure that their HotSync conduits are compatible with the new version of the HotSync Manager. Palm also notes that Palm Desktop 6.2 is not compatible with computers that have 2 or more CPUs in them. This is not the same thing as a single CPU with two processing engines, or “Cores” as they are often referred to.

So, for example, if you have a PC that has an Intel Core2 Duo processor, Palm Desktop will work just fine. If you have a PC with two Intel Core2 Duo processor, Palm is warning that Palm Desktop 6.2 won’t work.

For more information, and the download directions, visit the Palm website.

Mac OS X 10.5 & Palm Desktop 4.2.1

It has been a little over two weeks since Apple released Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, the latest major release to the Unix-based Macintosh operating system. In that time I have been able to do some testing of Leopard with my Palm TX handheld.

Getting Started

Prior to upgrading to Mac OS X 10.5 I was running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger (v. 10.4.10) and Palm Desktop 4.2.1 Rev D. My Mac OS X user account is also an administrator level account. The Leopard upgrade installer ran smoothly and I was done upgrading my Intel MacBook in about 45 minutes.

Running Palm Desktop Post Upgrade

My day-to-day PIM is Palm Desktop because I use Mac OS X and Windows XP daily. After upgrading to Leopard I was able to launch and use Palm Desktop 4.2.1 without any trouble. When I attempted my first HotSync however, I was greeted by the all too familiar Conduit Manager error, “Volume is locked.” To get past this error, I used Apple’s Disk Utility, which can be found in the Utilities folder in any Mac OS X installation. Using Disk Utilities Repair Disk Permissions command will reset the file and folder permissions on the conduits and unlock the files. While not required, I always like to reboot the Mac after running the permission repair. Once that task was finished, I was able to HotSync my Palm TX to my MacBook using the provided Palm HotSync cable.

Using Apple iCal and Address Book

Apple provides the iSync conduit for transferring your data between the Mac’s iCal and Address Book applications to your PDA handhelds and Treo smartphones. In previous versions of iSync, Palm has built in a connector for Palm’s HotSync Manager allowing you to share data between Apple’s applications and your Palm OS device. According to the latest information from Apple, the iSync application that comes bundled with Leopard is still compatible with the older Palm Tungsten and Zire handhelds. Owners of newer devices, like the Treo 680, will need to use Mark/Space The Missing Sync for Palm OS rather than iSync.

I know that Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and earlier iSync customers aren’t going to be too excited about having to purchase another software package when they upgrade. It is just one more hidden cost that needs to be paid when upgrading computer operating systems. (Microsoft Windows customers have this problem also.) I have used The Missing Sync for Palm OS and can tell you that I think it is a good application and it is worth the money. (You can also use The Missing Sync to completely replace the Palm Desktop application if you really don’t like it.) Customers who use Microsoft Office: Mac Edition will also be able to use The Missing Sync to exchange PIM information with Entourage v.X and 2004.

While we are talking about The Missing Sync for Palm OS, I should note that Mark/Space has posted a notice on their website that the current version of the software, version 6.0.1, does have some compatibility issues with Mac OS X Leopard. Mark/Space expects to have an update in place to add Leopard support with-in 90 days of the October 26 launch by Apple. Mark/Space has already begun working on the updates according to their website. Mark/Space is also planning on making the update free to customers running the current version of The Missing Sync. (Customers still running older versions will need to purchase an upgrade.)

In Conclusion

Palm Desktop and the HotSync Manger for Mac OS X has always been a love/hate relationship with Mac owners. The software has been required to work with their Palm OS devices, yet the actual desktop application is in need of a complete rewrite. Further complicating the matter is that Palm is completely tied up with rewiring the next version of Palm OS to effectively deal with a desktop application rewrite. Apple appears to be content with focusing iSync on moving data between the Mac and their iPhone and iPod entertainment devices. It looks like Mark/Space is going to swooping in with The Missing Sync to provide the middleware to keep all of our devices and data in sync.

Palm Desktop 4.2.1 Rev D page
Apple iSync site
Mark/Space Leopard FAQ