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Wise Tech Tips

Manage Contacts on your Cell Phone from your Computer with BitPim

By James Wise
web posted July 13, 2009
TECH TIPS – One of the benefits of having a “smartphone” (like a Blackberry or other type of cell phone with “PDA” like features) is the ability to synchronize data with a computer. Such data could include contacts, calendar entries, to do lists, ringtones (or songs in general), pictures, etc… But even if you have a regular cell phone, you might have some options for synchronization. Today, we’ll talk about one of my favorite free programs for this called BitPim.

Before you can use the program with your phone, you need some way to connect your phone to your computer. The two methods available are a data cable (USB on the computer side and a phone specific connection on the other end) and Bluetooth (short range wireless connection). Personally, I think the cable method is easier and you can normally get this cable from your cell phone company.

You can download and read about BitPim on the following website: http://www.bitpim.org/. The program supports a lot of phones. New versions are released regularly adding support for more phones. If your phone is supported, download and install the software as you would with any program. This program can also be downloaded and installed by the AppSnap program mentioned previously (http://www.edgefielddaily.com/wisetechtips050409.html).

Connecting your phone:
1)    Connect your phone to your computer (with a cable or Bluetooth)
2)    Run BitPim from your start menu.
3)    You’ll probably have to click the “Find Phone” icon.
4)    Choose “Yes” to run settings. Click on “Phone Wizard”
5)    Select your cell phone provider, manufacturer, and model and click next
6)    Select the port (normally use “auto”) and click next
7)    You can click detect phone but sometimes this will show “FAILED” even though the program works. So, click finish.

Getting data from your phone to your computer:
1)    Click “Get Phone Data”
2)    Check the first box beside any items you want to get from your phone. Certain items will be grey because they aren’t supported for the phone type you are using. Choose “Add” or “Replace” depending on what you want to do. If you already had some contacts in BitPim for example and you wanted to add the new ones from your phone, you would use add. If you wanted to have the BitPim contact list on your computer match what is on your phone, use replace. Click OK.
3)    If you chose to get contact data from your phone, that data will be displayed for confirmation and you can click OK to add or replace the BitPim data with the data from the phone.

If you were getting a new phone and you wanted to transfer your contacts from your old phone to your new phone, you could use the above steps to get the data from your old phone and then use the steps below to send that data to your new phone. Note that you can also ask your cell phone provider to do this if you get your new phone from one of their stores. If they can’t do this or would charge for it, BitPim can really help out! This is also helpful as a backup for your cell phone data.

Sending data from your computer to your phone:
The steps below are for transferring the BitPim contact list to your phone. You can also send other data though and it’s possible to get the contact data you want to send from a program like Outlook. I haven’t included details about that but if you find that you need more help with this, just let me know. If you don’t already have contact data somewhere, you can add it to BitPim from your computer (just click phonebook and add contact) instead of having to type it in from your phone.
1)    Click “Send Data to Phone”
2)    Choose “PhoneBook” with “Replace All” (assuming you want the contact list on your phone to match the one in BitPim) and click OK

I think contact data maybe the most important data you deal with on your phone. However, BitPim can also handle things like getting the pictures you take from your phone off of it (or sending pictures to it). If ringtones are supported by BitPim for your phone, you can work with these yourself instead of having to purchase ringtones from your provider.

As you can see, BitPim has a lot of useful functionality. I’ve only touched on some of the highlights in today’s column. If you would like more information about the program or need help getting your phone connected, just email me (edgefieldtechhelp@gmail.com) and I’ll do my best to help.

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