mac os x,  missing sync,  palm,  palm desktop

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


  • Bill

    Thanks, AlanI too use the Palm Desktop on my Windows PC running XP and think it is the best PIM manager.any guidance on how the Palm Desktop works with Vista?

  • Alan Grassia, Staff Writer

    I’m sorry, I don’t have any guidance on Palm Desktop under Windows Vista as I don’t run it.The message boards I moderate are awash with people having all sorts of trouble getting things working properly, and not just Palm Desktop. Vista, from what I’m reading in the IT trade rags, is still very much a touch-and-go train wreck. Microsoft is suppose to have Service Pack 1 (SP1) out I believe it was Q1, 2008 to address a number of compatibility issues.I’ve been holding off on Vista because my Windows XP box can just barley meet the minimum specs and I’m not ready to upgrade my MacBook’s hard drive so I can give Vista the drive space it needs to install correctly.Alan G

  • Anonymous

    I have not been able to sync my Treo 650 ever since I installed Leopard on my PowerBook G4 a week ago. I’ve tried to sync via bluetooth and USBcable. The systemprefs/bluetooth on my mac say I’m connecting. I’m getting the following message on my Treo after attempting to sync: HotSync Problem Unable to initiate HotSync operation because the port is in use by another application. I tried the “Disk Utilities Repair Disk Permissions command” that worked for you to no avail. I’ve googled this and can find nothing. Have you got any advice for me? Thanks for the help.

  • Michael

    Alan,When I speak to Palm and Apple.. they tell me that they are working out a solution. What I can’t determine is if it’s going to happen soon.. or in two years. Apple hinted they were working on a way “eventually” for PDA’s and Cellphones to sync without iSync and outta of the box including the Treo’s. They weren’t being very specific. They told me to just wait for release from Palm soon and Palm indicated they were waiting for information from Apple Computer. Apparently there is something in the works. Do you know of ANYTHING? It seems strange that iSync would work great with Desktop Software in OS 10.4 but NOT AT ALL with version 10.5!

  • Kerry

    I just converted to Apple with a Macbook running OSX Leopard.I wanted to copy my calendar from Palm Desktop on XP to iCal. I installed Hotsync and Desktop and performed a sync. Everything worked well.Then I tried to set up iSync which then told me that Hotsync was not installed correctly. So I went back to hotsync, it looked correct so I tried syncing with Palm Desktop. This time I now get “Unable to initiate HotSync operation because the port is in use by another application”.All my attempts at fixing this have now failed.So much for Apple’s “It just works” motto.

  • Pat

    Thanks for this article. What do you know about Palm TX syncing with Leopard and Office 2008 for Mac? I prefer Entourage to the Apple products. Will Missing Sync work with this combo?

  • Alan Grassia, Staff Writer

    Hello Pat. I know that the TX will sync with Palm Desktop 4.2.1 Rev D under Mac OS X 10.5.1. I don’t have a copy of Microsoft Office 2008 so I can’t tell you what is supported and what isn’t. The only thing that I can tell you is that Mark/Space the Missing Sync syncs with Entourage.Alan G

  • Jeremy

    I just bought a new iMac with the understanding that everything would just plug in and work. The Palm desktop software indicates an error during install, and the Hotsync manager doesn’t work. The “permission fixer” software from Palm has not fixed the issue.So now I’m sitting with a new computer, but my Palm device only works with the my old XP system!

  • webraider

    Jeremy,Everything does work provided that it’s supported in the first place. Palm finally has information that it is working on an update for Leopard. In the meantime I can say that Mark/Space software “missing sync” works better than Palm desktop EVER did. It’s $30 but once you purchase it.. you’ll never look back.

  • Pat

    I find this whole thing so frustrating. I have a Palm Tungsten E which has always synched quite well with Entourage 2004. Unfortunately, the Palm is dying (battery can’t be replaced–dumb!) and Entourage is so corrupted I have to rebuild my database almost daily. I was holding my breath for Office 2008 with the idea of buying a TX. But in hours of checking with Apple, Microsoft, and Palm what I’ve learned is that Palm doesn’t support Leopard or Office 2008 and no one I’ve talked to knows if or when they will. Microsoft has changed from using the Entourage conduit to Sync Services, which ends up syncing to iCal over and over and over. I haven’t tried Mark Space, but they can’t promise it will work with that trio. This should be so simple. Why is it so difficult??? I also tried an iPod Touch, but they don’t have tasks at all and notes don’t sync to anything. Can someone just invent a PDA that works with current software and OS?

  • webraider

    Pat,According to the Mark/Space Missing Sync website.. the Tungsten E is fully supported. Also.. Palm is going to support the sync services in Mac OS 10.5. They Have not given a date. It took them about 7 months to release an update for Vista so I wouldn’t hold my breath. It is coming but extremely slow!

  • Alan Grassia, Staff Writer

    On the Mac, I use the Missing Sync software from Mark/Space. They are much better at supporting the new features that Apple puts into Mac OS X. Warning: Mac OS X 10.5.2 is going to be released in the next 4 weeks or so. Keep and eye on for the latest news on that front.As for Palm and Windows Vista, you folks need to keep in mind that Palm is no longer in control of the Palm Desktop and HotSync Manager software. That software is now controlled by ACCESS and they aren’t too fast with their releases. Palm, it is my understanding, does own Palm Desktop for Mac OS. The problem there is that at this time Palm is so focused on Palm OS II and the first Treo that will run the new OS, they probably don’t have the time or the resources to rewrite Palm Desktop for Mac OS.Alan G

  • Anonymous

    Alan,Like many on this blog, I just upgraded to Mac OS Leopard 10.5.2 and have the same sync problem others note above. I don’t use the Palm Desktop preferring the Apple iSync facility instead.Upon checking the comments about the Missing Sync application on Version Tracker, the reviews are very mixed and polarized, some 5 stars, some with 1 star and not much in between.Do you have any recommendations before I move forward with Missing Sync.?Is there an alternative package that soves the syncing problem?Thx.

  • Alan Grassia, Staff Writer

    I’ve had no difficulty getting Palm Desktop 4.2 working on my Mac OS X 10.5 machine. (I purchased and installed the upgrade on launch day.)The Missing Sync 6.0.2 also appears to be working.If I had to chose between the two, I like The Missing Sync better. I also prefer the Windows version Palm Desktop over the Mac edition.That said, there is a compatibility problem between the lastest version of iSync and Palm Desktop 4.x. I don’t use iSync so it isn’t a problem for me.The choice to purchase or upgrade to the latest version of The Missing Sync for Palm OS is really up to you. I would consider what it is you want to sync your data to and then select the best way to get there. If I were you, I’d probably go with The Missing Sync and try to skip all of the headaches of dealing with the Mac version of the HotSync Manager.Alan G

  • Anonymous

    Alan,I listen to the 1src Podcast every week and appreciate your efforts there. I am a software developer working for a development house in Canada. We are looking at developing a Mac conduit for our Palm application (it is not PIM related). The trouble is that our current conduit for XP and Vista uses .NET. It sounds like we are going to have to get it to work for the version of HotSync that comes with Palm Desktop 4.2.1 for Mac and do it with Java. Based on the comments here, this worries me. The Missing Sync sounds like a better way to go but adds a $30 cost to the use of our product. Any thoughts?Glen

  • Alan Grassia, Staff Writer

    Hello Glen.Thanks for listening to the podcast each week.As for conduit development for Mac OS X, I believe that there is no difference in how conduits are written. A Palm OS HotSync conduit is the same piece of code whether it is being used by Palm Desktop or The Missing Sync. The difference there is the data synchronization engine. The Mark/Space engine used in The Missing Sync is better than the Palm HotSync Manager in my opinion.Since I am not a developer, I really can’t speak to the validity of a JAVA based conduit. For help with your development project, I would suggest that you join Palm’s Developer Network at

  • Anonymous

    I use Palm Desktop 4.2.1 as PIM, syncing the PALM V dissapaered with 10.5.x. I’am trying to export the data out of Palm Desktop appl to iCAL…..when I export the contacts thru vCal the PD 4.2.1 crashes after approx 5000 actions, no way how I tryidem on my PB Ti running 10.4.11How do I get all my data from PD421 to iCal ???thx

  • Anonymous

    Hi, I just bought an iMac and I use a Palm TX. Like others I’m very unhappy with the Palm Desktop for Mac. But the worst thing is when I try to change schedule dates in both Datebook and To Do’s it goes to two months ahead and I can’t change it. Have you heard about this problem before? Thanks. AB