Saturday, November 21, 2009

Address book sharing with OS X and MobileMe

Did you know you could share your Address Book through MobileMe, and even allow someone else to edit the entries?

I didn’t think so.

One of the oddest aspects of Apple’s “MobileMe” program is that much of the functionality is distributed between OS X machines, a user-invisible MobileMe repository, iPhones, and a sparse Web GUI. I expect most MobileMe functionality to be exposed through the web GUI, but it doesn’t work that way.

Address book sharing is a prime example (warning, Apple’s troubleshooting page on this feature is pretty much a warning not to use it! Obviously, you need to backup the desktop Address Book frequently.

I followed the directions and from my OS X desktop 10.5.8 user account I shared my Address Book with Emily (editing enabled).

Then, from her account I subscribed to my shared Addresses. I then did an iPhone sync to get everything cleared up and saved an archive of her Address Book [1]. Then, and only then, did I turn on MobileMe sync for her desktop contacts (Address Book).

I had to exit her Address Book and restart it to get my addresses to come over to her account. That’s typical of 10.5 Address Book.

It took quite a while, but now Emily has all of my Contacts on her OS X Address Book. They don’t, however, sync to her iPhone via iTunes. They also can’t be seen from the MobileMe web GUI, so I’m sure MobileMe iPhone contacts Sync wouldn’t see them either.

On the Mac though Emily can copy contacts from my list into her address book though, so copies can go to the iPhone.

It’s an interesting feature. We’ll see how useful it is, but to be safe I’ll disable remote editing.

[1] If you ever do a restore you need to immediately restart Address Book to complete it.


j-beda said...

Hey Gordon,

I just started playing with this in 10.6.6 but so far have not had complete success. When I send a subscription to the other MM account and click on the resulting link in that other account, the shared calendar appears, but seems to be empty.

Additionally, how can the subscriber remove the newly added shared calendar if they no longer want it?

j-beda said...

I did manage to get it working (I guess I just had to wait long enough). The "edit" button also did not show up instantly - it was in the stand-alone contact window that results from double-clicking on a contact, but not in the unified single Address window for a while at least.

I still cannot find a way to delete the subscribed calendar from the subscriber's end of things. I imagine that removing the subscriber's info from the publisher's machine would do it, but cannot seem to find a way to remove it from the subscriber's side of things.