Apple iCloud or iClobber?

iCloud Flames

Just when you thought Microsoft Outlook was frustrating enough, along comes Apple iCloud to clobber your contacts and calendars – and all at the same time!  Unlike other sync programs that screw up royally, you usually screw up one device at a time.  However, Apple has now evolved to the point where it can easily and conveniently screw up every device.

I use 4Team’s fairly trustworthy Sync2 application to sync Outlook with Google Calendar and Google Contacts.  I previously wrote about why I selected it in “Google Sync Software – And the Winner is …”.  It’s had its share of burps since then, but not as bad as a lot of sync software I’ve used.

However, I thought it might be interesting to give iCloud a try.  After all, it is in the cloud, it is automatic, and it is native to my iPhone.

The first annoyance is that the iCloud control panel moved all of my calendars into an “iCloud” folder.  None of the original calendar folders were accessible, which means, of course, that Sync2 choked on trying to sync.  I later found out that the calendars were actually there but turned into regular folders, which hid them from view.  I’m sure I don’t understand why it could not have just used the original folders.

OK, I could have lived with that, at least until I needed to share a calendar with someone.  No big rush, right?  Well, what I did not notice is that now my iPhone had no contacts.  That’s right!  Not a single contact was on my iPhone!

OK, so now it was time to untwist this knot, and it turned out to be tougher than it should have been.  First, go into the control panel and find the iCloud control panel (I had to search for it, as I had no idea where they would have stuck it).  Uncheck everything.  Then sign out.  If you do not sign out, it is a zombie, and it will keep coming back to haunt you.

Next, go will need to go into your iPhone and reset everything back manually.  Turn off all the iCloud mail thingies in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings.  I turned off Mail, Contacts, Calendars and Reminders.  It will ask about deleting items, so I told it to go ahead.  I don’t want duplicate items everywhere.  Since my main account is a Google account, I went into Exchange and made sure everything was on there: Mail, Contacts, Calendars.

The iPhone takes a while to sync these items, BTW.  So, don’t be surprised if your calendar items take a while to show up.  Meanwhile, the fun now turns to Outlook.

You will need to go into (if 2010, that is) File | Options | Add-Ins.  On the bottom of the main screen, there is a Manage selection, which should say COM Add-ins in it.  Click on the Go… button.  Uncheck the iCloud Outlook Add-in.  There also is an iTunes Outlook Addin????  I don’t know, so I unchecked it.  If you try to remove them, it will tell you only an Administrator can remove it (which I am!).  That must be an Outlook bug that I can figure out later.

Click on OK to dismiss that box.  Click on Calendars.  You should now be able to move the calendars from iCloud back to My Calendars by right-clicking on the calendar you want to move and choosing Move calendar.  Once you do that, you should be able to remove the iCloud group.  If not, try rebooting and attempting it again.

Here, you have options.  Most likely, everything you need is actually in the calendars you moved.  Click on the folder on the bottom of the left pane, and you should be able to navigate to where the calendars are.  Here, you can rename them, remove them, whatever.  You will see plain folders of your old calendars (which is why you cannot see them).  If you are paranoid, simply move all items from the plain folders into the moved calendars via drag and drop.  You can then delete the folders.

Along the way, it is likely that some got renamed.  If you are using Sync2, you can rename them back to what the original names were by right-clicking on the calendar and selecting Rename.

If all else fails, you can still create new calendars and move the events into them.

What a pain, right?  I have seen a few sync programs, but I’ve never seen one that just assumed it had carte blanche to all of your calendars, including how to organize them!  This isn’t just stupid; it is just plain wrong.