Sync FAQs

Sync Services is a central database on your Macintosh computer that keeps track of applications and devices that share information. You can use Sync Services to synchronize your Outlook contacts with other applications, such as the Apple Address Book and MobileMe.

If you have an Exchange account, you do not use the Sync Services central database.  You are syncing to the data on the Exchange server. For this reason, you’ll have fewer issues with sync like duplicates and disappearing data.

After you synchronize your Outlook contacts with the Apple Address Book, you can use iSync (no longer available in Lion), an application that is included with Mac OS X, to synchronize them with an iSync-compatible mobile phone or PDA. Or, you can use iTunes to synchronize your contacts with your iPod or iPhone.With a MobileMe account, you can use Sync Services to share your Outlook items with other people or with Outlook for Mac on another computer. Note: iCloud does not sync Contacts and Calendars to Outlook. Outlook does not support CalDAV or CardDAV that’s required for iCloud contacts and calendar sync.

How-to

Sync FAQs

  1. How do I enable Sync Services?
  2. Can my mobile device sync mail, contacts, calendar, etc?
    1. What if I try to sync to my Windows Live or Google Calendar with Outlook for Mac?
  3. What if I have events in Outlook but want to transfer them to iCal?
  4. How can I sync contact photos?
  5. Will I be able to sync the new Outlook for Mac with my BlackBerry mobile device?
  6. Are there any differences in what syncs with Outlook for Mac vs Outlook for Win?
  7. How do I troubleshoot sync issues?
1)  How do I enable Sync Services?
Open Outlook Preferences under Outlook in the Menu bar. Select Sync Services. Check your options. Outlook does not have the same options as Entourage to overwrite Address Book & Mobile Me with Outlook  or overwrite Outlook with Address Book. Outlook merges data.

2) Can my mobile device sync mail, contacts, calendar, etc?

See chart for options.

What if I try to sync to my Windows Live or Google Calendar with Outlook for Mac?

At this time, Outlook for Mac does not sync with web-based calendars such as Windows Live Calendar or Google Calendar. When sync to iCal is enabled, you could then use iCal to sync to Google calendars. CalDAV support is not an option for Entourage or Outlook at this time.

  • If you sync iPhone or iPad calendars via iTunes your mobile device calendars WILL be synced with Outlook 2011 SP1.
  • Outlook 2011 SP1 calendars that sync with Sync Services on the Mac, will NOT be synced with MobileMe calendars.
  • Outlook 2011 SP1 does not sync to iCloud Contacts and Calendars. If you select to sync, iCloud will pull all your data from Outlook and move it to iCloud’s servers. You would have to manually move it back if you did not want this option.

Since this article was written in 2012, Sync Services has been depreciated in OS X.

  • You can no longer sync with an iPhone or iPad via iTunes. You can only sync with an iPhone or iPad via a cloud-based service like iCloud or Google.
  • You can no longer sync local calendars with OS X Calendar (formerly iCal). You can, however, continue to sync calendars hosted on a cloud-based service like iCloud or Google with Apple’s Calendar.
  • You can no longer sync with any third-party apps running on your Mac that use Sync Services, like Entourage or Outlook.

If you want to stick with Outlook, I suggest you look at Exchange. Otherwise, moving to Apple Mail, Contacts and Calendar with iCloud might be a better option for you.

Until Microsoft adds CalDAV and CardDAV support to Outlook, there is no way to sync other than get an Exchange account. It’s $4/month Exchange Online. Outlook preview in Office 2016 does not include support for CalDAV or CardDAV.

Compare Sync options for POP, IMAP & Exchange Accounts
Account Calendar E-Mail Contacts Tasks
POP No Leave on server** will allow you to download on another client or device, but it will not reflect read or reply status. No No
IMAP No Yes, will reflect actions like reply, read, deleted on all other clients and devices No No
Exchange* Yes Yes* Yes Yes
Gmail No Yes, Gmail offers both POP & IMAP for free. No, however if you sync to the Apple Address Book this can sync to Gmail contacts. No
Yahoo No Yes. POP & IMAP. Yahoo requires a paid account to download with an email client No No
Windows Live No POP only. There is no IMAP option for Mac users. No No
iCloud Not in Outlook*** Yes, IMAP only. iCloud does not support POP accounts Not in Outlook*** No

Notes:

* Outlook does not support Exchange 2003. If you can enable IMAP on your Exchange 2003 server you can use Outlook to view your account via IMAP. You will not have access to your calendars or contacts.

** POP accounts allow you to select “leave on server” as an option. If you never delete from the server, you need to make sure you are aware of the size limit your ISP has set for your account. In addition, if the ISP reboots their server, the message IDs will be reset and Outlook will download all your messages again. I suggest that if you want to store all your messages on the server that you log into your account with your web browser and create a folder to archive your messages. Move older emails out of the Inbox. Outlook only downloads from the Inbox. Your best option is to switch to IMAP.

***Outlook Mac does not support CalDAV and CardDAV. iCloud requires CalDAV and CardDAV support for Contacts and Calendars. If you uncheck Contact and Calendar sync in System Preferences > iCloud, you can sync to Address Book and iCal then use iTunes to sync to your iPhone.

See How do I stop Outlook from downloading my mail over and over again?

***Apple’s Frequently Asked Questions about the new MobileMe Calendar

3)  What if I have events in Outlook but want to transfer them to iCal?

If you have events in Outlook you can use Sync Services in Outlook Preferences or drag as individual items to the desktop to import into iCal.

  • In the item list, select the item that you want to export. To select multiple items, hold down ⌘ as you click the items.
  • Drag the selection to the desktop or a folder in the Finder. Calendar events and tasks are exported as .ics files.

4)  How can I sync contact photos?

Contact photos sync only one way and that is from the iPhone to Exchange to Outlook 2011. You cannot add a contact photo in Outlook and have that sync to Exchange and then to your iPhone.

5)  Will I be able to sync the new Outlook for Mac with my BlackBerry mobile device?

Yes, through Sync Services. For BlackBerry devices you will need to choose a third-party plug-ins that enable Sync Services for specific devices. As of the time of this writing, contacts are the only data type that can be synced.

I suggest you keep an eye on Mark/Space’s website.

6)  Are there any differences in what syncs with Outlook for Mac vs Outlook for Win?

Yes! Outlook for Windows can sync to iCloud Contacts and Calendars. Outlook for Windows can also sync to Hotmail folders.

Contacts’ e-mail addresses

In Outlook for Mac, you can store up to 13 e-mail addresses in a single contact. In Outlook for Windows, you can store up to three e-mail addresses. When contacts are synchronized, Outlook for Mac synchronizes the default e-mail address with the E-mail field in Outlook for Windows. The next two addresses listed in the Outlook for Mac contact are synchronized with the E-mail 2 and E-mail 3 fields in Outlook for Windows.

Contacts’ mailing addresses

Some fields, such as Middle Name, are available in Outlook for Mac but not in Outlook for Windows. As a result, if you enter information in the Middle Name field, you will not be able to see that information in Outlook for Windows. Similarly, Outlook for Windows provides fields for contacts that are not in Outlook for Mac.

To work around this issue, you can enter information in the Notes tab in Outlook for Mac, and that information is displayed in the Notes box in Outlook for Windows.

Troubleshoot Sync Issues

  1. How do I force my Exchange calendar events to refresh sync?
  2. Sync Services for contacts is greyed out in the preferences in Outlook. How do I enable it?
  3. SyncServicesAgent keeps crashing. What can I do?
  4. How do I deal with duplicates created when I synced?
  5. Contact sync stopped working. How I can get it to sync again?
  6. Are there any third party options to use with Outlook to remove duplicates?

1) I have an Exchange account and Calendar events are not synchronizing to Exchange server. How can I refresh?

See if emptying your Calendar cache resolves this. More info.

2) Sync Services for contacts is greyed out in the preferences in Outlook. How do I enable it?

Try deleting these files in your User’s Library/Preferences folder:

  • com.microsoft.Outlook.SyncServicesPreferences.plist
  • com.microsoft.SyncservicesAgent.plist
  • Also in the User’s Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office 2011 folder delete OfficeSync PrefsYou’ll need to Log out under the Apple in the Menu bar after deleting prefs. When you Login and launch Outlook, new preferences will be created.
    You will need to reactivate Sync Services in the Outlook Preferences pane.

Another cause of Sync Services being grayed out: If another Identity has Sync Services selected you will be unable to select in a new Identity until you disable in the other Identity.

3) SyncServicesAgent keeps crashing. What can I do?

This can result  when you have corrupt .plist files, or corrupt data.

1)  You can first try deleting these files in your User’s Library/Preferences folder: “com.microsoft.Outlook.SyncServicesPreferences.plist”, “com.microsoft.SyncservicesAgent.plist” and  OfficeSync Prefs in the Microsoft folder in Preferences.

2)  You might need to remove all Microsoft .plist files and the Microsoft folder in your User’s Library/Preferences folder.

Tip: Testing in a new User will quickly tell you if the problem is system wide or if it’s your User’s folder that contains the problem. Go to System Preferences –> Create a New User in Accounts. Switch to the New User by logging out/in or use Fast User Switching. Test Outlook issue in the new User. You can share files if need via the Shared folder. Your Hard Drive/Users/Shared

2) Export your contacts as .olm file under File > Export and select to delete after exporting. You can then import the file. Sometimes the export/import process will clear any corruption. Warning: Make backup first since this deletes data. Also, turn off Sync Services in Outlook Preferences while working with your data. More info

Scrubly is a new third party app that you might try to clean up your Address Book data.

4) How do I deal with duplicates created when I synced.

Contacts can be synced to the Apple Address Book. In the Address Book use the “Look for Duplicates” command under Card in the Menu bar. Results will be synced back to Outlook.

Calendar events synced to iCal can be cleaned up with iCalDupeDeleter or Calendar Cleaner. Results will sync back to Outlook. I suggest you do not turn off Sync Services in Outlook while doing the cleanup otherwise you’ll loose categories assigned in Outlook.

Tip: Select one source as your master data and delete the data on your other sources.  If using this method,  be sure to turn off Sync Services. Make a backup once you have completed your cleanup. Turn on Sync Services. Outlook does not have an “overwrite with Outlook data”  like Entourage. It merges the data. If you have left the corrupted data on the other devices, it will sync back. More info on deleting data can be found in these Entourage instructions.

5) Contact sync stopped working. How I can get it to sync again?

Delete this file in your User’s Library/Preferences folder:

You will need to re-activate Sync Services  in the Outlook Prefs pane and delete the system trash. Some users have had to Log out of their User and Log in to get Outlook to recognize the change,

Third party options:

  • Scrubly is reporting it works with Outlook for Mac’s Address Book .
  • Spanning Tools for Mac
  • iCalDupeDeleter (requires Outlook sync to iCal)
  • iCal Cleaner (requires Outlook sync to iCal)
  • Syncrospector is part of Apple’s Developer Tools. Download Xcode. You must register as a developer. No charge… just use your email address to register . It’s a big download.
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