Push From the iPhone, the Web, and the Mac: Well, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.

One thing I learned while determining how to share push calendars and contacts with one MobileMe account was that the iPhone will push, and the MobileMe web apps will push, but the Mac (and PC) does not push.


When I updated my system to MobileMe, I was kind of surprised that the Sync settings in the MobileMe system preference were no different than for .Mac. You could turn it off, pick a time period, or set it to “Automatically”. Where was the setting for “Push”?

Turns out there isn’t one. Your Mac still syncs the old fashioned way.

What does that mean? Simplest way to explain it is just to demo it yourself. When you have an iPhone (with 2.0 software set to push) and you’re at your Mac, do this:

  1. Open your calendar on the iPhone, and on your Mac open both iCal and the MobileMe web app calendar. Make sure you can see all three calendars at the same time.
  2. Add a meeting to the calendar via the iPhone.
  3. Wait 10-20 seconds, and see the new meeting show up in the other two places (in this case the web app and iCal).
  4. Delete the new meeting via the web app.
  5. Wait 10-20 seconds, and see the new meeting deleted in the other two places.
  6. Add a new meeting in iCal.
  7. Wait for 10 seconds, 60 seconds, 2 minutes, etc., up to as much as 15 minutes, and you’ll eventually see the new meeting added in the other two places.

The above works the same way for Contacts as well.

Why is this? Well, the “Automatically” setting of MobileMe is not a continuous “push” as you might think, but rather a frequent check every 15 minutes. Go figure.

So, if you’re sitting at your Mac with your iPhone, and you want to add something and have it show up on all your computers, iPhones, and the web ASAP, use the iPhone or the web app. Strangely enough, using the Mac’s native apps to enter your data is now the slowest way to spread it to all your devices!

5 thoughts on “Push From the iPhone, the Web, and the Mac: Well, Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.

  1. Andy,

    Thanks for the tip, but keep in mind all this does is run a sync every minute. This is NOT “Push” and, more importantly, I sync a lot more than contacts and calendars and do NOT want everything syncing every minute.

    If this works for you, great. For me, however, I’m perfectly happy knowing that if I change a Contact or Calendar and want it immediately available elsewhere, I can just select Sync Now from the menu bar. I much prefer this “solution” to syncing every minute.

  2. Feeling conned by the promised “push” technology of MobileMe, specifically when making changes on your Mac, only to find out that it will not push, but instead, sync at 15-minute (60 minutes in 10.4.11) intervals? I found the .plist file that controls the “Automatic” sync interval for MobileMe, and changed it from 15 minutes to 1 minute. The file is located in ~/Library » Preferences » ByHost » com.apple.DotMacSync.your_MAC_address.plist.

    Open this file in Property List Editor, find the AutoSyncInterval key, and then set it to the number of minutes after which you want it to sync with the server. I have it set to 1 right now, and it syncs every minute which is good enough for me at the moment. Hopefully this will be of value to anyone who needs something more immediate than a 15-minute sync, and doesn’t want to bother with Manual sync.

    [robg adds: I was disappointed to read that the 15-minute sync from a Mac to MobileMe/iPhone is a feature, not a bug. This hint seems to work well to create much more of a true push from your local Mac to the cloud; I tested it with both 1-minute and 5-minute settings, and it seemed to work just fine, and my setting survived even after opening and working with the MobileMe System Preferences panel. Obviously, though, if you use the Synchronize pop-up to change the sync interval, your settings will be overridden.]

  3. Partners,

    Yes, Push email works very well for me so far. Both from MobileMe and Exchange. And I’m extremely happy with how quickly the calendar and contact updates are pushed.


    Yes, the easiest way to manually Sync from the Mac is to use the MobileMe preference to display the Sync item in the menu bar. Then all you have to do is pull down the menu and select “Sync Now”. If you’re used to immediate gratification when entering data from the iPhone or Web app, then “Sync Now” is a habit you might want to get into.

  4. Is there not a manual way to puch the info from Mac or PC?

    If so, how long does that take?

  5. When I tested MobileMe with email addressed to myself I was amazed at how quick it was. Email was pushed to my iPod touch in the blink of an eye.

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