Syncing Android Devices With MS Exchange/Outlook

At the “Smartphones and Tablets: What’s Right For You” session at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Solo and Small Firm Conference last week (archived webcast is available for purchase), there were a number of questions on syncing Android devices with MS Exchange/Outlook. In response my co-speaker Mike Seto prepared the following. As these questions appear quite common, I thought it would be helpful to share Mike’s answer with a wider audience.

If your calendar/email/contacts are on a Microsoft Exchange server, you can set up current Android phones to sync over the air without further software.

1. Add your exchange email address to your device. Make sure that you select the proper type of account – do not select either POP or IMAP but rather “Exchange ActiveSync”.

2. I am assuming that since the people who approached me on this was experiencing problems, the device did not automatically detect the exchange settings, so select “Manual Setup” or if the automatic configuration did not work, select ” edit details”. Make sure that you have all of the appropriate settings from the administrator of your Microsoft exchange server (such as the name of your domain and your server address).

3. If the above works, you will see an activation screen; if the instructions are acceptable to you, click okay.

4. You may also have to tweak your Account Options for settings like frequency and period for syncing and whether to sync email/contacts/calendar/tasks (I have had problems syncing tasks in particular in the past).

5. Test the sync by creating new contact/appointment information from your phone.

Given the wide range of setting options on exchange, sometimes you just cannot get the above to work. If this happens, you can also try third-party software which will often get you around the issues. For example, try TouchDown for Smartphones available from the Google Play App Store (the full version costs about $21). It has been around for quite a while and is frequently updated to address problems and developments. I have never had to use it but I hear that it works.

If you are trying to synchronize with your desktop Microsoft Outlook program, the best solution is probably one of the paid desktop solutions. In the past, I have used missing sync for android (www.markspace.com); I did get it to work but it was “flaky” on install and initial setup. CompanionLink for android is another option (www.companionlink.com) and has a 14 date evaluation trial. It has a mix of write-ups – good and bad. I have not personally used that solution. The third that I can refer you to is Android-sync (http://www.android-sync.com). I have not used this application either but I believe that there is a free trial that you can try out.

You can also try syncing your calendar to Google calendar and then syncing your android phone to Google. This is what I do since my personal situation is further complicated by the fact that I need to additionally synchronize a MacBook calendar to android and Microsoft Outlook. I use Google calendar as a “hub” (containing all of my appointments), and then sync all three platforms/machines to it. The Mac calendar simply synchronizes to the private folder URL that you can generate from within Google calendar settings. Obviously, the native android calendar can easily be set up to sync with Google calendar, leaving Outlook as the issue. Until recently, Google did provide an Outlook solution but that has been closed. Consequently, a third party plug-in is required. You can search google “outlook google calendar sync” for various solutions. The one that I
currently use is gSyncit (http://www.fieldstonsoftware.com/software/gsyncit3/) which is a Outlook add-in that will synchronize calendars, contacts, notes and tasks. It costs $20 US – there is a free trial before you need to activate. It works fairly well for me. The downside of course is that my calendar events are now in the cloud, with the attendant security and privacy issues. Consequently, my appointments are typically quite innocuous making sure that the information is relatively valueless to anyone.

I hope that the above is of assistance. Please let me know if I can help further – feel free to email me back. I would also appreciate any feedback to the above.

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Comments

  1. Once you’ve got things linked up from Outlook to your phone, sometimes you’ll find that you need access to calendars or contacts that can’t be reached from your normal folders, such as a public folder calendar or the Global Address list for example.

    There are solutions that can sync items from those folders to your mailbox so that the phone will then pick them up. You can find one such calendar sync solution (it also syncs other item types) in Add2Outlook. For IT admins looking to deploy such a solution to many users, there’s an Exchange add-in version as well called Add2Exchange. Give them a look.

  2. I am having trouble synchronizing the calendar on my Droid M (Android 4.1.2) with my Outlook account at work, which is on an Exchange server. Email syncs fine, but calendar only syncs in one direction: from my computer to the phone. new entries on the phone do not appear in outlook, whereas new entries in Outlook appear on the phone. The calendar was syncing fine for a month or so, but recently only syncs one way. IT people say that nothing has changed on the Exchange server. My phone did run an Android update some time ago, but I don’t know if the problem started at that time.

    Any advice?

    I’ve checked all the settings on my phone – calendar is set to sync.

  3. I had same issue until I noticed that the default calendar was set to device calendar (maybe the recent update did it??) – so simple, but I kept overlooking it…so when you set a new calendar event make sure the calendar is your exchange calendar – if it says device calendar (colored green on my Droid Razr Maxx), touch that colored banner & the menu of the calendars you’ve enabled (assuming you’ve set these up in Settings) should be listed, including your exchange calendar. Once I changed it to my exchange calendar (colored burgundy on my phone) events I set up on phone then appeared on my exchange calendar on my PC. Hope this helps