If you want to synchronize two Macs, you only need to keep the Home folders inside the Users' folders in sync. A Home folder is created for each user of your computer when his or her account is set up. If you are the only user of your computer, there is only one home folder. The home folder isn’t actually named “Home”; its name is the same as the short name specified in your user account. The Home folder stores your documents, preference settings, and other information.
For the most part, only the "OS" and Applications files are stored outside of the Home folder. You do not want to sync these files between two computers. However many users may store files in various places all over their hard drives. If this is the case in your setup, you need to set up separate sync documents to synchronize those files too. Read the tip To Sync or Backup to get the low-down on where to store your files.
Before you get started:
Back UpBefore you run a bi-directional sync for the first time, make sure you back up your data in case something goes wrong. When you run a bi-directional sync, ChronoSync will archive any changed or deleted files. It is a lot easier to restore files from a back up rather than restoring from this bi-directional archive. You can use ChronoSync, Time Machine, or any other back up application to back up your Mac. Don't be one of those stories that you hear about where someone lost all their data because they did not back up.
Verify your OS is the same on both MacsYou can only perform a Home-to-Home sync between the same version of Mac OS X, meaning you must sync Tiger to Tiger but not Tiger to Leopard. You need to make sure that your iApps like iPhoto, iTunes and iCal are the same version. However, you can synchronize certain files, like document files, between any OS that your Mac can copy to. For instance, you can synchronize your Documents between Tiger and Leopard or even Tiger and Windows XP. If you are unsure if you can synchronize a particular scenario, ask us by filling out our support form describing your situation.
What you can synchronizeEven though you can technically synchronize everything inside your Home folder, it is strongly recommended you only synchronize specific folders inside your Home. That sounds like double-talk but there are some parts of your Home folder that you should not synchronize. Only the most advanced users, who know the consequences, should sync their entire Home folder. Synchronizing the entire Home folder is not an easy setup and requires you to sync every time you switch Macs. Please contact us via our support form with questions or for instructions. All others follow the steps below.
iPhone or iPodEven though you are synchronizing two Macs you can still only use your iPhone or iPod with one of them. Unfortunately we don't know any way around this restriction.
Let's get started:
The steps below will tell you what you can and can not synchronize between two Macs. It will show you how to connect to another Mac, set up Synchronizer documents, add the Synchronizer documents to a Container document, and run your synchronizations. When you have completed all the steps, ChronoSync will automatically connect two computers and keep the data synchronized between the two computers.
Step 1. Install ChronoSync on ONE computer.One misconception that many users have is that they must install ChronoSync on both computers and set up a Synchronizer document on both computers to perform a sync from one computer to another. Doing this is not necessary and certainly not recommended. ChronoSync has the ability to do bi-directional syncs. This means that one document can analyze the contents of the files for both computers, synchronizing in either direction when necessary. Because of this, ChronoSync needs to be installed on only one computer.
Step 2. Mount the other computer.After installing ChronoSync, you need to now mount the second computer. You can do this by using Airport, Ethernet, FireWire, or the Internet. Once you set up your Synchronizer document, it will automatically mount the other Mac. For more information on connecting to another computer read our tip Connection Methods. If you want to use a go-between, like a portable hard drive, to keep two computers synchronized then read our tip Sync Using an Intermediary.
Step 3. Set Up the Synchronizer document.ChronoSync performs synchronizations from a document you create and save. When you launch ChronoSync, a blank, "Untitled" document is created. You can also choose "New->Synchronizer" from the File menu. Once you create and save a Synchronizer document, you always run your synchronizations or backups from the same document. To stop the automatic creation of a new Untitled document at launch, uncheck “Create new document on activate” in Preferences.
Step 4. Decide what to synchronize.Your Home folder is divided up into several main folders. You need to set up a separate ChronoSync document for each folder you want to synchronize between two Macs. This makes it easy to control what you want to synchronize between the two computers. If you want to sync multiple Home folders between two computers you need to complete all these steps for each Home folder while logged into that particular User. If you simply want to backup your Home folders then read the tip Backup Basics.
If there any folders or files inside your Home folder or inside any of the above folders that you are unsure if you should synchronize, then ask us by filling out our support form describing what files you are unsure about.
Remember, you need to set up a separate ChronoSync document for each folder you want to synchronize between two Macs. Each section below is a link to a tip with step-by-step instructions for setting up a Synchronizer document for that particular section.
The Desktop folder contains all the files that on your Desktop.
Documents- To sync this folder, read the tip Synchronizing your Documents.
The Documents folder is where you should store the bulk of the files that you create. Read the tip To Sync or Backup to get the low-down on where to store your files. If you use Microsoft Entourage for email, then read the tip Synchronizing Email because you will need to exclude the Microsoft User Data folder that is stored inside the Documents folder.
Downloads- To sync this folder, read the tip Synchronizing your Downloads folder.
This folder contains all the files you download from the internet - unless, of course, you change your download destination.
Library- To sync this folder, read the tip Synchronizing your Library folder and Synchronizing Email.
This folder contains a lot of files you may want to sync and a lot of files you should not sync between two computers. It is highly recommended that you read Synchronizing your Library folder. The Library folder also contains your Mail.
Movies- To sync this folder, read the tip Synchronizing your Movies.
This folder is the folder where you should store all your movies. It is also the folder where all the iMovie projects are stored.
Music- To sync this folder, read the tip Synchronizing your Music.
This folder is the folder where you should store all your music files. It is also the folder where the iTunes Library is stored.
Pictures - To sync this folder, read the tip Synchronizing your Pictures.
This folder is the folder where you should store all your image files. It is also the folder where the iPhoto and Aperture Libraries are stored.
Public - To sync this folder, read the tip Synchronizing your Public folder.
This folder is where you can share files with other users.
Sites- To sync this folder, read the tip Synchronizing your Sites folder.
This folder is the folder where you can host a website on your computer.
Step 5. Set Up the Container document.Once you set up your Synchronizer documents containing the folders from above, you can add them to a Container document. A container is a document that contains multiple ChronoSync Synchronizer documents. A ChronoSync Container document allows you to control several Synchronizer documents as if they were one document. Running a synchronization on a container will execute each contained document in order. Choose "File->New->Container" to open a new container. You can add your Synchronizer documents to the container by simply dragging them in and out or by selecting “Add...” or “Remove” from the toolbar.
Step 6. Save the Container document.Once you set up and save the Container document, all the contained Synchronizer documents will run together. You can store your Container document anywhere you want inside the Home folder on the source computer. It makes sense to store it in the same folder as each Synchronizer document.
Step 7. Run the synchronization.Once you have all the above-mentioned settings in place, perform the synchronization. This can be done by choosing "Synchronize" on the toolbar in the Container document.
Make sure to always synchronize each time you switch over to the other computer. If you fail to do this, conflicts may arise. A conflict is when the same file has changed on both computers. Since you have to choose between one file or the other, you would lose the changes made to one of the files. If a conflict does arise, then choose the file from the computer you last used.
Since you need to synchronize every time you switch Macs, it is not practical to schedule your Home to Home Container document. Instead, you should manually run the sync every time you switch Macs to ensure the two Macs always stay in sync. Doing this will take some getting used to, but it's a habit that should be practiced.
Errors or Problems
If you encounter any errors or have any problems you can contact us by using our support form.
3 Things to Remember
Once you have everything set up, you only have to remember three things.
- Make sure to always synchronize each time you switch over to the other computer.
- Always run every sync from the source Mac using the same Container document.
- If a conflict should arise, choose the file from the computer you last used.
To switch from Left to Right Mac:
Using Left Mac. Run Sync from Left Mac (The source Mac). Choose "Left Files" for any conflicts. Begin using Right Mac.
To switch from Right to Left Mac:
Using Right Mac. Run Sync from Left Mac (The source Mac). Choose "Right Files" for any conflicts. Begin using Left Mac.
That's it! The flexibility and ease of using ChronoSync has so many advantages. If you have any problems while using our products, contact us by using our support form. If you wish to share a tip with us, post it on our comment form.