How To Get MobileMe For Free Using Google and Dropbox [How To]

MobileMe for Free.

A couple of weeks ago I canceled my MobileMe account. Why? Because it didn’t do the one thing I wanted it to do: share my calendar with my wife so we could coordinate our busy lives. That’s all.

I love MobileMe’s email, calendar, contact syncing (especially on the iPhone) and even iDisk. I gave Apple a year to improve it, but nothing happpened, so I switched.

Here’s how to recreate all of MobileMe’s features for FREE (except one) and how I use it to sync my iMac, MacBook and two iPhones.

Email

After 15 years of loyalty to Yahoo, I made the switch to the evil corporation known as Google. I had a Gmail account before but decided to start fresh. I opened a new Google account and now use Gmail. My wife has been using Gmail for a while now so that part was previously done. Gmail is good, but then again, it’s hard to mess up email.

Contacts

Still in the beta phase, Google Contacts has worked wonders for me. I can edit contacts on my Macs and they show up within seconds on my iPhone. I tried editing on the iPhone but it doesn’t seem to like that. I recommend you DO NOT sync your contacts on your computers. Instead, export your contacts as a vCard and import them into Google Contacts. It will be much cleaner and easier that way.

First, export your contacts from Address Book (File>Export…>Export Group vCard). This will create a vCard. Save it to the desktop.

How To Get MobileMe For Free Using Google and Dropbox [How To]

Next, head over to Google Contacts so you can import that vCard. Look in the bottom right-hand corner and click on Import.

How To Get MobileMe For Free Using Google and Dropbox [How To]

Clicking on Import will bring up an Import dialog as shown below. Click on Choose File and select the vCard on your desktop. Voila! Now all of your contacts will be available via Google Sync. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

How To Get MobileMe For Free Using Google and Dropbox [How To]

Calendars

Google Calendar makes it so easy to share a calendar.  I made a calendar, sent an email to my wife, she added it to her account and presto: shared calendar. Now I can add an event from my work computer, iPhone or any of my Macs, and my wife will see it almost instantly on her iPhone. Magic!

Let’s setup iCal to make use of your brand-spanking-new shared calendar. Open iCal, click on the iCal menu and select Preferences. When the Preferences window comes up, click on Accounts and then the plus symbol to add an account. You should get the window shown below. Enter your Google account information and your Google calendar will be imported into iCal. It will sync automatically and you are ready to add events.

How To Get MobileMe For Free Using Google and Dropbox [How To]

Below is how your new Google calendar will look. Easy huh?

How To Get MobileMe For Free Using Google and Dropbox [How To]

iDisk

While I barely used iDisk, I did want to keep its functionality for the rare times I need it. My solution is Dropbox, an online storage service that offers 2GB of space for free (the same as the basic MobileMe storage solution). Just download the app to all your Macs and don’t forget to download the iPhone app. After that, the setup is a breeze. Dropbox adds a folder to the Finder that looks and works just like iDisk. Here it is below the Applications and Documents folder.

How To Get MobileMe For Free Using Google and Dropbox [How To]

Again, this 2GB solution is free. Need more space? Pay a small fee for more storage. A great application.

Get Everything In Sync

Next, I setup my iPhone to sync with all my Google applications and Dropbox. Dropbox was easy enough. I just downloaded the free app and that was done. As for Google, here is how to setup Google Sync on your iPhone:

1. Open the Settings application on your iPhone’s Home screen.
2. Open Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
3. Tap Add Account…
4. Select Microsoft Exchange.

settings mail calendar contacts on iphone add mail calendar contacts account on iphone microsoft exchange

5. In the Email field, enter your full Google Account email address. If you use a Gmail address, you may see an “Unable to verify certificate” warning when you proceed to the next step. Just hit Accept/OK.
6. Leave the Domain field blank.
7. Enter your full Google Account email address as the Username.
8. Enter your Google Account password as the Password.
9. Tap Next at the top of your screen.
9a. Choose Cancel if the Unable to Verify Certificate dialog appears.
10. When the new Server field appears, enter m.google.com.
11. Press Next at the top of your screen again.

exchange domain exchange server

12. Select the Google services (Mail, Calendar, and Contacts) you want to sync. You want to use them all, trust me!

13. Choose to Delete Existing Contacts during the Google Sync install when prompted. If you choose to keep existing contacts, it will sync the contents of the “All Contacts” group instead. That will just make a big mess. Remember, Google Contacts already has all the contacts you need since you imported them already.

iphone exchange mail calendars contacts exchange keep on my iphone

14. Lastly, visit http://m.google.com/sync on your iPhone and login. You should see your device there. Select your device and then select which calendars you wish to sync (should be all). Select “Save” and now you are done. Give your calendar a few minutes to fully sync before you check it. You should be good to go now on your iPhone.

Now you have all the functionality of MobileMe (with the exception of Find My iPhone) for FREE, thanks to Google and Dropbox!

It took me a couple of days to work out the bugs in my system but so far I have no regrets. It is even easier if you have an email forwarding system setup. Then all you have to do is change the email address you want your email forwarded to. Otherwise, you just have a lot of email settings to update.

If you have any problems, please post them in the comments below.

Related
  • ritche

    Thanks for the step by step tutorials. I tried and it really works.

  • Snapp13

    erm, MM gives 20G storage, all you do to share a calendar is click the little gray thing next to the calendar name to turn it green at me.com and you can add an email address (or several) and they just click accept invitation and instantly shared calendar. As long as you aren’t syncing with other syncing services contacts sync great (both ways, and without duplication).

  • Rob

    Been using google services for years, before with android. Now with iPhone and Mac I always have the problem that either apple or google contacts messes up the corresponding contact data fields. First and last name get messed up, Dirk Van Buren becomes Buren Dirk, Van
    Tried your method as described above, but that made everything even worse, it seemed. That’s one thing that makes me miss my Android, never any issues there. Suggestions?

  • FL Pastor

    I figured out how to link my iCal to google calendars, and I have figured out how to add new dates so that they sync up.

    However, I have several Calendars (work, personal, etc) that are already on my iCal that I would really like to be able to add to my google Calendar. I know that I can simply change them to the new Calendar by going to info and changing from “Work” (or whatever) to my gmail account. The problem is that all of my dates would then have the same classification.

    Question: is there any way to add my current appointments, etc, and still keep them sorted in terms of work, personal, etc?

  • rutinerad

    Yes, but when this post was written you couldn’t do that. The new calendar sharing in MobileMe works great.

  • Matias

    Thats ridiculous. You can share calendars using mobileme without an issue. What a dumb and unreasonable reason to complicate your life. In mobileme it takes one click. Mr. Gutierrez is unaware the iCal sharing was available way before this latest update using the publish feature that is going on three years now.

  • Carlos

    Hi there, and how do you manage contacts with both last names or two name’s contacts, address book syncs contacts but on it’s very peculiar way, changes names and last names. iPhone syncs contacts with Gmail correctly but i can’t get Address book on my mac to be the exact same contacts from Gmail or the iphone.

  • Delbeto

    Thank you

  • Francisco Santa Cruz

    I have a similar setup, but the contacts sync doesn’t work at all… Has known problems for iOS devices (http://www.google.com/support/… and it won’t sync some of my info inside my contacts (i.e. only two phones for contact, and things like that). I am thinking to going to mobile me, but I don’t know…

    It really depresses me that google has this known issues for over a year and they don’t do anything about them… It’s google for Christ sake, they could put a couple of people on it, but they don’t.

    This “Don’t be evil” mantra, is bullshit.

  • Guest

    The issue is more a limitation of ActiveSync/Exchange.  Google’s contacts can support all the extra info, ActiveSync is not programmed to understand more than a few fields. 

  • Nick

     Thank you! Finally it works.

  • Pamorchard

    I hope it works I am not very technical minded but will give it a go – thank goodness for people like you,  cheers 

  • Abhishraj

     dude find my phone is the single thing for which i m using mobile me! any idea how to get it for free??????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • Douglaswelcome

    I am assuming once I ditch my mobileme account I will loose access to my @me.com address. What should I do for all the folks who email me at that address?

  • Jason

    Beautiful!!! Thank you for this great detailed article!

  • Alon

    it is free!

  • Aishinjumegan

    Thank you! This was awesome and so simple

  • Nice

    This is pretty awesome stuff! and it´s free. Viva la freedom! There is only one itsy bitsy tiny thing I can think would be nice. To be able to upload the pics/videos directly to the dropbox so you can save them there. I´ve found 3 ways for this. or 4. They first one is DropPhox http://itunes.apple.com/us/app… It seems pretty awesome, costs money. nr 2 is PhotoSync http://itunes.apple.com/us/app… nr3 DropIT https://dropit.so/ and so last but not least the last one: 4. PicBox http://itunes.apple.com/us/app… And I´ve desided to go with the last one cause it´s free. =) But I´m waiting for the apple icloud I think that will be amazing.

  • Derlierprossy

    This is a truly ripe interpret for me. Must concur that you are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw. Thanks for posting this usable substance. This was vindicatory what I was on sensing for. I’ll travel confirm to this diary for certain! I bookmarked this diary a while ago because of the utilitarian acceptance and I am never existence thwarted. Dungeon up the healthful employ.

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About the author

Jose GutierrezJose Gutierrez is a San Diego-based Submariner who loves technology, specifically anything Apple. When he's not jailbreaking or unlocking a device, you can find him on Facebook. Follow Jose on Twitter.

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