Fixing iPhone and MobileMe Sync Headaches

Apple's MobileMe may be a handy way to make sure your contacts and appointments are always synchronized between your computer and iPhone or iPod touch, but the service isn't all that useful when syncing stops working. If your aren't making their way to your iPhone, the fix can be as simple as resetting the sync process.

To reset MobileMe syncing, start by deleting your MobileMe account from your iPhone or iPod touch. Here's how:

  • Tap Settings
  • Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars

Add and remove MobileMe account settings in Mail, Contacts, Calendars

  • Select your MobileMe account from the Accounts List. Mine happens to be named "MobileMe," but it many people simply use their MobileMe email address to identify their account.
  • Tap Delete Account

Delete Account only removes MobileMe settings. It doesn't shut down your account.

Now that your MobileMe account has been removed from your iPhone or iPod touch, move over to your Mac and do this:

  • Choose Apple menu > System Preferences
  • Click the MobileMe Preference Pane
  • Choose the Sync tab
  • Click Advanced

The Advanced button hides MobileMe's sync reset option.

  • Click Reset Sync Data
  • Choose which direction to send your synced data: To your Mac from MobileMe, or to MobileMe from your Mac
  • Click Replace

Be careful, because resetting MobileMe syncing overwrites data.

The process replaces all of the synced data in the target destination, so make sure that you send data from the location that was most recently updated. In my case, the most recent data was on my Mac.

I used this trick recently to kick start the sync process between my iPhone and MobileMe after I used iTunes to reset my smartphone without restoring any data from backups. In my head scratching situation, syncing still worked properly between my MacBook Pro, iPod touch and MobileMe even though my iPhone refused to play along.

After resetting MobileMe syncing on your computer, hop on over to your iPhone or iPod touch again and re-add your MobileMe account:

  • Tap Settings
  • Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  • Choose Add Account
  • Tap MobileMe
  • Enter your MobileMe account information, then tap Done
  • Make sure the items you want to sync wirelessly, i.e. Mail, Contacts, Calendars and Bookmarks, are set to On

The iPhone and iPod touch include pre-set forms for adding several account types.

Your iPhone or iPod touch should start syncing with MobileMe again.

I talked about my syncing problem on Twitter and quickly mentioned the solution, which prompted Drew Misko to ask me how to overwrite information in MobileMe online with the information that's on his computer.

To solve your problem, Drew, just follow the steps to reset sync data from your computer. Just be sure to replace the information on MobileMe with the information on your computer.