powered by
Click to launch AlxTV TV station

« WorldTV 'San Francisco' Beta | Home Page | Video on the Net in San Jose »


Syncing a Blackberry Pearl with the Mac Address Book

Vodafone Blackberry Pearl

So I finally made the plunge and picked up a Blackberry yesterday on my way through Heathrow airport.

I've resisted getting a Blackberry for ages simply because I couldn't see how I would ever integrate it with my tried and tested (12 years old!) Eudora POP based e-mail system. If I send e-mails from my Blackberry for instance, how can I have a copy in my Eudora Out box?

That problem is for another post, but for now I'm interested in the process of getting contacts off my old phone and into my shiny new Blackberry Pearl.

Anytime I've done something like this before I've made use of the Mac address book application and iSync. iSync has a habit of being rather 'out' of sync with the latest phones and in the case of the Blackberry Pearl my usual fears were realized. No support at this time - either USB or Bluetooth.

Thanks to this post however I discovered that a 3rd party application called PocketMac SyncManager, now officially licensed by Blackberry makers Research in Motion, and available to end users for free, does just what I need it to do only with some significant caveats. The problems are not insurmountable however, and if you take things slowly and carefully, things will work out fine.

Firstly you must approach your 1st Blackberry sync in the following order...

  • Open up PocketMac Sync Manager by itself, with no other applications open (Dashboard is ok)
  • Make sure the Blackberry is turned off and connect it via the supplied USB cable
  • Turn on the Blackberry (I chose not to enable the USB disk mode and this worked)
  • Click the Blackberry icon in the Sync Manager application, confirm all the various options, and then click Sync

Doing anything else it seems throws an error and by the looks of it many people have experienced this problem.

My needs were pretty simple - I wanted to transfer over my Address Book contacts and nothing else. I don't use iCal, nor Entourage, nor any of the other supported apps (Lotus Notes ???). This is a shame because I do sometimes use Palm Desktop as a calendar (it's way better than iCal) but this is not supported.

Back to Address Book...

There are a few quirks that you should be aware of before proceeding...

  • There is no way to DELETE ALL contacts on the Blackberry Pearl. At least not that I've found. For this reason, it's an extremely good idea to clean up your address book first and in full before doing your first sync. You can backup your Mac address book very easily, so I suggest doing this at the very beginning. This way you can do a proper spring cleaning, getting rid of anyone you don't speak to anymore safe in the knowledge that you can retrieve their details in future if needed!
  • Field matching between the Mac Address Book and the Blackberry Address Book is VERY sketchy and uses a basic field mapping system. Some fields simply aren't transferred at all. I've researched the mappings below but be aware that you will need to reassign your field designations in Address Book BEFORE syncing or you will be without those fields on the Pearl. This is no insignificant issue, I had many cases where the fields did not transfer.
  • Once you have done your first sync and are looking to make tweaks and changes, it is okay to have Address Book open on the Mac alongside SyncManager (but you should not be in Address Book edit mode), and it is okay to have the address book application open on the Blackberry, although not open on an individual entry. Hopefully this will speed up your tweaking process.
  • Making changes to a field name or contents in Mac Address Book does successfully get recognized by the application and is updated the next time you sync.

As mentioned above, field names in the Mac Address Book are mapped to fields within the Blackberry Address Book. Custom field names (set in Mac Address Book) do not transfer over despite there being the presence of 'User' fields on the Blackberry, and some standard fields do not transfer over either. Some field names are changed! The full details are below...

Mac Address BookBlackberry Address Book
first name->First Name
last name->Last Name
custom image->X
main->Work 2
home fax->X
work fax->Fax
work e-mail->EMail
home e-mail->EMail*
other e-mail->EMail*
instant message fields->X
work address->Work Address
home address->Home Address
* Multiple e-mail addresses are possible, they are all labelled EMail on the Pearl

One little gotcha to be aware of is that within the Mac Address Book it is perfectly okay to have different fields with the same field name, but SyncManager can't handle this.

For example I had several cases where I had multiple 'mobile' entries for people - only the first one was transferred. This was a major issue for me and very annoying.

The solution was to go through these entries and change them to different field names. I relabelled a lot of fields as 'main' for example to get them over to the Blackberry as 'Work 2'. For some friends of mine for instance I had custom fields for 'mum' or 'usa home' or whatever. I made use of the Notes feature to remind myself in future what certain numbers represented. Being relabelled as 'Work 2' I would have no idea what these numbers were if I hadn't done this.

Hopefully the situation will change in future with an update to the software and if it does (and you become aware of it) I would kindly ask that you help other readers by using the comments section below. With RIMM now officially recognizing SyncManager, hopefully the boys in Windsor will ensure these quirks are worked out of an otherwise very useful bit of software.

feed.pngIf you've enjoyed this post you can receive future musings, as I write them, via email. I post about once a week year on average. More techy folk might prefer to subscribe to my RSS feed and I'd be delighted if you do. I'm rather more active on Twitter, have a few pictures up on Flickr, and I tend to keep track of people on LinkedIn and reluctantly so on Facebook. My day job is running WorldTV.com - a site for doing cool things with online video.


I'd similar experiences to yourself. Trying to switch from a Nokia N70 across to a 8100 Pearl proved to be a fairly bewildering experience. I must be honest and say that unless you need some highly specialised feature that is unique to Blackberry, then I shouldn't bother to swap phones. Having used Nokia for the past 12 years, I find the Blackberry platform a bit 'nasty' - the qwerty keypad on the pearl is going to take some getting used to also.

Just got my Pearl. And have some problem .... it's annoying for me

Hope RIM will fix this issues soon ...

The names copied themselves through but the numbers in the didn't... what can i do?

How does one copy the addressbook from a Nokia 6630 to a Blackberry 8707g?


This is awesome! I followed your directions and it worked great! Thanks a lot!

For some reason my phone wont mount onto the computer and pocketmac wont even read the phone. It keep failing even if I follow the above guidelines to sync. Any ideas?

i am having trouble getting my blackberry to sync a second time after initial success. used pocketmac for 7 months, unsuccessfully, and grew tired of updating my data on the computer and the pearl manually.
moved to daylite contacts and missing sync. first sync was fine on contacts, not on calendar. got calendar to sync but wiped out contacts. i'm getting a message that there is something wrong in sync services. not patient or tech savvy enough to figure it out. and now my blackberry has no contacts in it AGAIN
any suggestions? i tried the trick with plugging it in, turning it on...no/go.



The 1st time I tried the sync with my pearl my images appeared...now when I added more images to my addr book & tried the sync a 2nd time the new images didn't copy onto the blackberry?? Help..why did it work with the 1st time and not the 2nd time? I did everything the same?

I am having trouble syncing groups from my mac address book to the Blackberry Pearl. It syncs all of my contacts, just not the groups. Any help is appreciated!

There IS a way to delete all your contacts just from the handheld device - the Blackberry Pearl 8130.

The tech support guy told me about it! Here goes:

1. While in BB's address book, click the "menu" key.
2. go to "options"
3. click "default"
4. You should be in this menu screen that shows the number of contacts you have.

Now here's the good stuff:

5. type the letters "RSET" using multitap
since you have a pearl, you need to do multitap.

In other words, if you look at the number/symbol above the letters, you type exactly this sequence:

1 1 ? ? 1 2

or using the letters:

[er] [er] [as] [as] [er] [ty]

This should do it!!

Just do it once - I typed it a few times here just to clarify. Again, you just type these keys while your in that menu screen.

Hope this helps - it helped me a lot. Ive spent a lot of time (free time thanks to Verizon) on the phone with BB and Pocketmac in the past few days regarding syncing issues and bugs. I ended up having to wipe my whole phone in the end cause the error message "uncaught exception" wouldn't go away. Now I'm finally back to working order for the most part.

Also, for anyone who might still be having probs with syncing - something that helped me a lot was:

EXPORTING my address book entries AS V-CARDS rather than as an archive. Then REIMPORTING them to replace the old ones. It's a way of cleaning out the files with bugs and such. What sucks is that you loose the pics when you do that.

I'm not very good at this stuff but since I've spent a while on the phone w/ BB and have been through a lot with this issue, if anyone has any questions that they think I might be able to answer, feel free to email:



I have had many of the issues listed above.
I am working with a MacBook Pro running OS X for the computer
I have just purchased a BB Pearl 8120 Sandstone model.

1. Having the Address Book field entries turn into question marks. This happened to about 100 of my contacts. The worst part of them changing into question marks is that I don't know what they were before to know which ones I have to replace the information for.

2. Got the new Pearl 8120, the first one I received the port/power adapter input was not soldered to either the battery or the memory to recognize that the Pearl was plugged into the computer. Check for Dustin Hamilton's message. I contacted my provider in Canada (Rogers) and they replaced the handset. The second exact model did accept a power charge, but was not recognized by the computer when it was plugged in. Rogers sent me a third, this time a refurbished exact model. This one does accept power and is recognized by the computer.

3. I had previously used the BB Pearl 8100 Black, and the Red. Neither of these had any syncing issues.

4. I had previously used the Missing Sync program with great success for the BB Pearl 8100's. It does not work for the 8120. I did perform the upgrade and paid the fee for the new version of Missing Sync, which still did not work for the 8120. Looking up the issue on the internet resulted in only one-way syncing (from the Mac to the Phone). It would not and still does not sync from the phone to the Mac.

5. I was told by Rogers to completely uninstall Missing Sync from my computer and only use PocketMac as it is approved by RIM for making the connection between the Mac and the Blackberry products.

6. Now that I have the computer "seeing" the phone, when I tried to sync, it changed 100 (approx) of my contacts fields in my Mac Address Book to question marks. "?" The second issue is that the phone only took 430 of my 2560 contacts and hung. I tried a second time and I seemed to get to the same place on the progress meter, and hangs again. I'm going to try it again before bed so it can go overnight if it has to.

Update to my May 25, 2009 log:
I reinstalled the upgraded version of Missing Sync and with help from Dave at Missing Sync, am able to fully sync the phone to the Mac now. PocketMac just isn't where it's at.

The issues were:
1. From my early cell phone days, I had in the address book the first two listings as "!!!!!!!!!!" so that if spammers got into my address book (also my days before using a Mac) they could not use my address book to send out junk. I guess this is no longer required, as the software does not recognize characters instead of letters and it was confusing the system. So, I took those out and solved part one of the issue of not all items syncing.
2. Again, from my Palm Pilot days, I had some residual code in some of the very old address book entries. I used a "look up" of "wei" as this was part of the code and was unique to those entries, and cleaned them out. part two solved.
3. I had such a big address book (over 2000 entries) I had turned off the calendar and the tasks sync option until I had all address book entries transferred. Then Turned them back on in the options and was good to go.

Also a BIG Thanks to Ali for her help with the clearing of the address book and the calendar on the BB Pearl. Here are the updated instructions:

1. While in BB's address book, click the "menu" key.
2. go to "options"
3. You should be in this menu screen that shows the number of contacts you have.

Now here's the good stuff:

4. type the letters "RSET" using multitap
since you have a pearl, you need to do multitap.

In other words, if you look at the number/symbol above the letters, you type exactly this sequence:

1 1 ? ? 1 2 (after this do you have to hit the return key or something else?)

or using the letters:

[er] [er] [as] [as] [er] [ty]

This should do it!!


I had said:

1. While in BB's address book, click the "menu" key.
2. go to "options"
3. click "default"
4. You should be in this menu screen that shows the number of contacts you have.

YOU ONLY NEED TO DO STEPS 1-2 HERE. Ignore steps 3-4. I was wrong about the screen that you should be in. You should be in the "Address Book Options" screen. So the directions should only be:

1. While in BB's address book, click the "menu" key.
2. go to "options"

I can sync but the PTT numbers appear in "home" in Address Book and become nonfuncitonal back in the Blackberry 7100i.
Any fix for getting them into the PTT field in the Bberry?


Very Good site, thank yo mister, it's help's me!

I found this blog. This post VERY interesting.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

About the Author

View Alx Klive's profile on LinkedIn

Receive blog via Email

Subscribe to Feeds

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.