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How to sync an Android phone to your Mac

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | May 21, 2013
Syncing an iPhone to a Mac is simple. Syncing an Android phone may not be quite as easy, but it isn't hard. Here's how to do it.

Android to Mac

Thanks to iCloud, syncing an iPhone with a Mac is a piece of cake. But Mac users who don't buy into the whole "one vendor to rule them all" thing will find that syncing an Android phone with OS X isn't quite as easy. That said, it isn't terribly difficult, either, thanks to Google's own cloud services.

Contacts
First, you must set up your phone to sync with your Google account. To make sure that this syncing is enabled, go to Settings > Accounts > Google, and tap your email address (it will be at the top of the screen, under the Accounts heading). Then confirm that the Sync Contacts box is checked.

Next, open the Address Book app on your Mac, go to Address Book > Preferences > Accounts, and choose On My Mac. You'll see two boxes: one that says 'Synchronize to Yahoo' and another that says 'Synchronize to Google'. Check the Synchronize to Google box, press Accept in the pop-up box, and enter your Gmail address and password when prompted. You should now see a small sync symbol in your Mac's menubar. Click this symbol, and choose Sync Now from the dropdown menu.

Calendar
To sync your Android/Google calendar with iCal, open the iCal app on your Mac and navigate to iCal > Preferences > Accounts. Click the plus (+) symbol in the lower left corner to add a calendar to iCal. Leave 'Account Type' set to Automatic, fill in your Gmail address and password, and click Create.

If you have multiple Google calendars associated with your account, you can choose which ones to show in iCal by clicking Delegation (iCal > Preferences > Accounts), and checking (or unchecking) the appropriate boxes.

Media
One of the easiest ways to sync media, including music, videos, photos, and podcasts, is to use DoubleTwist--a free Android app that's commonly known as "iTunes for Android." You can sync media with DoubleTwist either via a USB cable (which is free) or via Wi-Fi (which requires a one-time $5 download of AirSync by DoubleTwist).

Regular USB syncing over DoubleTwist works with Android devices that have USB mass storage (MSC) mode enabled. Android devices running Jelly Bean or later support USB MTP mode but not USB MSC mode. Consequently, until DoubleTwist updates its app to support USB MTP, these devices (which include the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2) can sync only over Wi-Fi via AirSync.

To get started with DoubleTwist, download and install the free DoubleTwist desktop app on your Mac. When you open the program for the first time, it will scan your iTunes and import your media (music, videos, photos, and podcasts). It won't automatically import your playlists, but you can manually import them: Go to Playlist Setup (in the lower left menu), and select Import iTunes Playlists. If you want DoubleTwist to automatically import changes made to your playlists in the future, check the box next to Automatically Import iTunes Playlist Changes.

 

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