So you just got a Blackberry Pearl and you have a mac…

I unpacked my new Blackberry Pearl a few hours ago and after running all over the web trying to solve basic problems, I figured I should do a roundup of the basics here for other mac users, since I couldn’t find all this info in one place.

  • Charge it up the first time by plugging it into a wall. It seems buggy at first with USB charging, giving errors that you are not using a powered USB port and you are missing drivers, both which are untrue. My iMac worked fine after the first charge.
  • You can’t pair the device to your mac via OS X’s bluetooth utilities just yet. That means no iSync over bluetooth right now either. I suspect this is coming someday soon and someone can correct me on all the backstory (leave a comment).
  • update: at this point I would suggest using Missing Sync for the Blackberry Pearl. It’s much more stable and reliable than PocketMac.
  • You can use PocketMac along with the included USB cable for syncing, but don’t look for it on PocketMac’s product page, you can only get it from Blackberry directly following a link halfway down this page.
  • PocketMac 4.0 will resemble iSync and let you sync your address book, calendar, etc. Be sure to launch the app, then connect via USB, then sync everything. PocketMac refused to launch until I did it in this exact order.
  • Even though you can’t do much via bluetooth, apparently using the blackberry as a modem with bluetooth is possible and works using this modem script and set of instructions. I also hear it is free under T Mobile’s regular blackberry plans (I used to pay $20/month for the luxury on my old phone).
  • You can apparently transfer files over bluetooth but it sounds buggy.

Hopefully iSync/OSX starts fully supporting the device soon, but until then, this was all the info I needed to get started. Gmail works great on the device as does MetaFilter, so I’ll be set whenever I’m on the road and away from the keyboard.

244 responses to “So you just got a Blackberry Pearl and you have a mac…”

  1. The app OnSync ( http://www.onmadesoft.com/ ) claims to be able to sync with a slew of devices that iSync does not. Not sure if it would do so with this phone.

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  2. So how are you finding the phone’s UI? I briefly played with it the T-Mobile store the other day and it kind of confounded me, but then again I am somewhat of the a Nokia Series 60 bigot.

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  3. It’s definitely got quirks in the UI. I’m finding sometimes the alt key and the shift key interchange what they’re supposed to do, and in some cases the num lock is unavailable when you need it.
    I’m getting used to the weird keyboard thing — I do have to say the predictive text stuff is far and away better than any I’ve tried before. In a couple days of web browsing, text messaging, and email I’ve only had one or two times where it frustratingly wouldn’t predict a word I was trying to spell out (which was often an oddball web URL).

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  4. Would definitely love your review after a couple weeks of playing with it! I’m about ready to trade in my Treo, which just seems like a toaster these days.

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  5. I’ll 2nd BenJ’s sentiment. I don’t want to be “that guy” who hangs out in the T-Mobile store for hour trying to see if I would like the phone.

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  6. I’d be happy to write up a review — so far I love — but this is my first “smartphone” so I might not be the most trusthworthy source. For example, not knowing what other smart/PDA phones can do, I might be amazed over the most trival stuff and not know about the missing features.
    So far, being able to read Gmail in one click (even while I drive) is fantastic. The Google Maps app is also very slick. Never getting lost again is a definite plus to having this. Also, since running my own websites is basically my profession now, being able to pull up any site from anywhere is wonderful.
    No more nervousness when I come home from being away for three or four hours running errands.

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  7. Very slick…the browser in my Nokia 6600 is pretty weak even with Google adding in a little transcoding of the sites. If you wouldn’t mind adding in some notes on how fast the network access is and what “optional” T-Mobile services you had to buy to get all that great GMaps and GMail services working.

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  8. It’s too bad that T-Mobile’s GPRS data network is 20 times slower than verizon’s EVDO.. I really don’t want to switch to verizon.

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  9. I’m a Treo 650 user of 2 years (and 7 yrs on palm os) who has been looking at the Pearl. I’d imagine there are a ton of us out there in this situation since the next line of treos isn’t looking any more slim.
    I’d really like to read an in depth review of the Pearl, written by a Treo convert. If any of you end up switching, I’d love to hear about your impressions, particularly with regards to the calendar sync and one-handed operation.

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  10. Thank you for sharing the helpful links! Going through the same struggle…

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  11. I use to have a Blackberry and used PocketMac to sync to my mac. Unfortunately my experience was horrible. The software kept doubling my contacts with every sync. It took me forecver to get everything back to where it was. Hopefully they fixed all the bugs. Let me know what your experience is like.

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  12. Well, I had a Treo600 and got fed up with it and its issues. Got a Pearl and really love it. Dl’ed Opera mini browser for it and am getting used to its UI. Overall I am happy with the phone, just want the iSync folks to get going on this as it would make my life a lot easier. Bluetooth hack works you just have to remember to initiate the transfers on the phone first.
    d

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  13. this is pathetic but real: i just finished a total of about 10 hours of research on blackberries and phone carriers. my favorite lessons are: first, buy it from telesales, not from the store or online. phone sales people can give you better prices, accurate research, and up to date specials. second, call two to three times and ask the same questions each time, especially when looking for the loops in the blackberry plans. i loved being a sprint customer up until one hours ago when i switched to t-mobile. and it’s all because my inquiries led me to 10 representatives. none of whom ever gave me the same answers twice and only one could point me to the info in writing. i didn’t buy a pearl. i went for the typewriter styled blackberry 7290.

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  14. Hi there, had same problems as the guy who started this (Chris) but even having followed his instructions, ical and address book aren’t syncing. Suggestions?

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  15. Me again. I told it, when prompted I think, to delete or overwrite existing calendar and contact info, and then, like magic, the syncing worked. Hooray!

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  16. I am a Nokia guy who kept his 3650 for almost 4 years because there wasn’t anything else that would do as much for me. I love the N81, and would have bought it, but no carrier is supporting it, or has the system to support it. So I see this new Pearl and buy it in early October. I think it is a good phone, but I am also sync-ing to a Mac. My experience so far is that it worked mostly OK with the v4.0 from Pocketmac EXCEPT it lost the Voicedial function on the phone AND jumbled up some of the address fields from my Address Book on the Mac. Anyone else lose Voicedial? And have you been able to get it back? The jumbled contacts are a pain, but can be adjusted. The loss of the Voicedial feature is a pain, since the Pearl supposedly has some sophisticated recognition software so you don’t have to program each contact name & number, it should just recognize from the contact list and then dial. Thanks for any of your experiences and/or your help.

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  17. Don’t have time to write an “in depth” review, but I will say I’ve been using the Treo 650 for a while. I tried the Blackberry 7105t briefly, ditched it and went back to my Treo thinking “What’s all the fuss about Blackberry?!” But when the Pearl came out, I decdied to do one more trial run (T-Mobile gives you a 2-week period during which you can bow out of a new contract). I love the Pearl. It’s fast. The UI is much improved over the 7105t. I’ve never had to pull out the instruction book — things just make sense and for the most part work the way they “should.” I can use it with one hand easily, and with two hands can type emails and txts as quickly and easily as I could with my Treo — the predictive text is that good, and the trackball makes the process of refining possible letter combinations as you go (a Blackberry thing) so much faster and easier. Last but not least, in addition to wanting the new T-Mobile “My Faves” plan, my other motive for changing phones/providers was finding I never wanted to lug my Treo “brick” around without a backpack or bag of some kind. The Pearl is so light and small it can go anywhere practically unnoticed. The only drawback to this is that it’s such an elegant and good looking little beast that I coddle it, not wanting it to get scratched or marred. One other thing to note: My coverage with Sprint was awesome — it worked deep inside buildings, in remote areas, etc. My coverage with T-Mobile isn’t anywhere near as good — in fact, it cuts out just inside some buildings in the heart of town. But I realize that coverage quality varies by area. Just a heads up — check your T-Mobile coverage carefully before switching.

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  18. Thanks for this page. I think i have visited it twice a day since i got my pearl this week.

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  19. Have any Pearl and Mac users figured out how to put music into the phone? Or how to take pics from the phone to your computer?

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  20. blackberry pearl is not compatible with pocketmac yet. no mac syncing for now. BUMMER!

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  21. Dave, if you read the post, you’ll find that it is in fact compatible with pocketmac 4.0 and the newest macs.

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  22. I saw that Priay was having the issue that I’m having: using PocketMac 4 w/ a Pearl, the sync seems to stall midway thru when it lists “Synchronizing Data”. Then, after several minutes, it says that it’s failed. The PocketMac SyncManager Warning says :Unable to connect to BlackBerry (error 1); skipping. Please help, thank you.

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  23. sean, I got it to work when I followed the steps in my original post. Read it again and follow the exact order.

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  24. thanks so much for this – it was really helpful. i’ve got everything working except e-mail (mind you i had a friend visiting over the weekend who is an extreme programmer and i always rope him into sorting out all our technical stuff!). my blackberry is saying “data connection refused” which i think may be because in the uk you have to pay an extra £15 a month to have the full service. i may have to make do with webmail for gmail and .mac but that’s not a total disaster.

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  25. Does anyone know if it’s possible to use download new applications onto your Mac and use PocketMac to transfer this app to the Blackberry?

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  26. Hi Jong and anyone else who cares.
    Im am a mac It provider in UK and have used and set up just about everything. That said, I have am currently testing out an 8700g and a pearl for ease of use with a mac. In short – apart from email use the rest is fairly naff (at the moment) – if you are used to running stuff straight out of the box.So far i have had to email apps to myself jusst to get in on the 8700. I do have answers to a whole oad of problems with mac related BB stuff so if anyone has a problem just post it up and we’ll see what we can offer.

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  27. Are there any mirror sites for PocketMac 4.0? I’ve been trying to get the download for 2 days and keep getting refused by the server because of traffic.

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  28. I’m a former Treo 650 user and I just switched to the Pearl. One thing that I loved about the Treo was that you could be on the “phone” (or home) screen and just start typing in a name and it would automatically consult your contacts to find that person/business. On the Pearl, I’ve come to realize that you have to actually go to the Address Book to begin typing a name. You can’t do it from the home/main screen. If you start typing, only numbers (not letters) come up. Am I doing something wrong ? Is it possible to do what I used to do on my Treo? Thanks

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  29. i am getting the same error – skipping – even when i do it just as you say in your post. also i have set up my .mac account and my gmail account to forward to the blackberry but neither of my test messages came through. other than that i have got most of it working (i had to upgrade my account as i mentioned in my earlier post to get e-mail and internet). thanks again for all your helpful tips matt!
    oops – now i’m getting “bad device record set” as well!

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  30. Trying to sync the Pearl to my Mac too. My IT guy is telling me that my Mac, that has USB version 1.0, is too old to sync with the Pearl. He’s saying i need to get a new computer with USB 2.0. Does anyone know if that’s true??? much thx for any clues. ms

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  31. I too am having that skipping issue. And i still cant resolve it. Yes, i have followed the steps…
    Hmm…..

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  32. yes, closing apps and the blackberry prior to syncing WORKS!
    now now, how do i hook my pearl up with some of thems music mp3s?
    This site is great, thanks

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  33. I’m also getting the can’t connect to device in PocketMac 4.0 for my Pearl.
    No matter what I’ve tried, it can’t detect the Pearl, but when I look under Apple System Profiler it is deffinetly detecting the device as USB Mass Storage and picks up a serial number.
    Any ideas?

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  34. same skipping issue, opening app. first not helpful, installed media card-no help, pocket mac-not helpful, blackberry site not helpful.
    any other ideas?

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  35. I too am having that skipping error. Sohail, what apps are you closing prior to syncing?
    I wish someone with this same issue who found a resolve, would report exactly what he did step by step to help us losers! lol.
    I don’t have my micro disk yet. I will soon, is that what the problem is?

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  36. I have a new Macbook pro and run Entourage.
    Is the Pearl Compatible ?
    Should I buy the pearl or wait?
    Thanks!

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  37. CLOSE all application. All.
    Then open pocketMac.
    Turn off blackberry,
    Plug in blackberry via USB,
    Turn on blackberry
    Press sync.
    That worked for me. If it doesnt work for you, let me know.
    ANYONE FIND A WAY TO GET PODCASTS TO WORK ON THE PEARL? Mine arent working…
    To be honest, none of my videos are working
    Cheers
    Sohail

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  38. sohail – it didn’t work for me. I even tried to reboot the cell. Nothing.

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  39. I quit everything…. opened pocket mac… pressed sync…. it worked, but I am missing 1/3 of my contacts…. any suggestions?
    Thanks,
    David

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  40. I’ve had the same nightmares all day but appear to have finally got some resolve, and have been adopting more or less the same approach adopted here. I had to:
    – Close all other applications
    – Plug USB lead into computer only
    – Open PocketMac
    – Plug USB into Pearl
    – Wait for the ‘mass storage’ prompt and choose no
    – Click ‘Sync’
    This then worked. NOTE the first time I did it (with a new, empty Pearl) it would only work choosing to replace all the info on the device, syncing gave me the skipping error. Subsequently the sync works fine.
    I also find I have to go through this whole rigmarole with each sync – can’t do one, then add a contact and then re-sync without unplugging etc etc…
    Cheers,
    James

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  41. I just purchased a PALM TX last weekend and have had nothing but problem with it. Does the Pearl sync the sub directories in address book? I tend to separate a lot of my addresses in folder. The TX does not support that feature. I even upgraded to the missing sync.

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  42. Any PDA’s out there that work with address folders. What is the best PDA to get that works with a MAC.

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  43. Wait till next year. iPhone will be coming out.

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  44. I have been thinking about a Blackberry of some kind for a while, but had been put off because the syncing appeared not to be up to much. I see that nothing has really changed. Despite the iPod being so huge and the Mac now finally starting to sell to new users & switchers, it seems that companies still can’t be bothered to provide anything than truly half arsed support for the platform. I’ve seen sync apps for these devices that don’t sync e-mails – I mean, who’d even think of such a ridiculous concept? That’s like buying a car that doesn’t come with a steering wheel.
    From reading all of the messages on here it seems that the whole point of owning one of these (ease of use, making life simpler, saving time and being more productive) has been wiped out by the hassle involved in just getting it to work. The hours spent getting these things to just work could have been much better used!
    As a Mac user for 14 years I have been putting up with being a second class technology citizen for ever so I am no longer surprised, but it’s horrible that you’ve all spent money on something that you then have to spend hours messing with just to get it to do the job it was designed to do.
    Hopefully someone will finally come out with something that just works right out of the box the way it was supposed to (and maybe it’ll be Apple, but who knows?) but until then I can’t see a compelling reason to sign up.
    I hope you all manage to get your Pearls working finally!

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  45. I am about to begin a new job where I am hoping to convince the IT guys that my lifelong usage of the Mac can finally be tolerated in a corporate environment. I am hoping to get a MacBook as my laptop and a Blackberry Pearl as my handheld. I am fairly certain that they run Exchange as their calendar function, so I expect to do my calendar and email syncing on the Windows side of the Intel Core of the Mac. Has anyone tried to do the syncing of their Pearl in this fashion? If so, can the calendar data be shared with the iCal??
    Thanks for the thoughts all – great site, exactly the issues that concern me. BTW, like Matthew I also think this incompatibility nonsense is insane. What I have always loved about my Macs (and I have owned or used about a dozen over the years) you turn them on and they work. (Including the very first SE that I have – which I stuck in a damp and musty wine cellar to just catalogue my wine collection and it STILL boots right up and gets ready to go to work – 20 years later.) When all new technologies meet this standard, we will have finally achieved the true potential of high tech. As long as we need to have pages like this one to help us do basic things, we are still just a little better than scratching pictures on cave walls.

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  46. We need look no further than Micro$haft’s recent Zune launch to see how low the standard of compatibility still is. Numerous sites are already detailing the embarrassing and farcical procedure that a number of new users have to go through just to get it working. While iPod/iTunes have had their issues, they generally operate pretty well and very simply.
    When the biggest and richest software company on the planet who own about 95% of the OS market can’t manage to get an MP3 player to work first time you can see how far we still have to go. There’s a lot of “cool” technology around right now but much of it doesn’t play nice with other stuff and even more is so confusing to use that your every day punter just can’t be bothered, or can’t undersatand it (or a bit of both). Until companies start thinking like customers we’ll still be in the same situation in 10 years time.

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  47. As a little more than frustrated Pearl owner, I don’t get it. I tried everything that’s been mentioned, and still no luck. Does anyone have a work around for syncing the “pearl”

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  48. MarathonMacMan – I’m told that MS Entourage (on the Mac) works very well with MS Exchange. If that’s the case, you won’t need to run Outlook under parallels to play nice in your corporate environment. However, I have no personal use with the combined solutions. Best of luck to you.

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  49. TREO OR BLACKBERRY?
    ugh.
    I read all this and it confirms my worst expectations. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a blackberry or treo for almost a year, and like the rest of you, i’ve come to the same conclusions.
    Jut started a new job, got a macbookpro so i could manage our graphics, but now they are willing to get me a blackberry, and it sounds like its going to a nightmare.
    Aside from device capability issues, Treo’s aren’t offered by T-mobile, which is the only other GSM provider (others don’t work abroad), and WAY more affordable than Cingular. And in my case, my company is all setup on T-mobile, so cingular isn’t even an option.
    long way of asking a question: Have any of you bought an unlocked Treo and set it up on T-mobile? I’ve heard of this being done, but since you can’t get support from Treo or T-mobile, i’m affraid of flying solo with no tech support. Any feedback?

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  50. I’m a disgruntled Treo 650 owner and am now waiting for the impending Cingular release of the Peral. I just stumbled across this. When did RIM start offering this? Sorry if this is old news….
    http://www.discoverblackberry.com/discover/mac_solutions.jsp

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