Enable Google Contact Sync Without an iPhone or iPod Touch

Enable Google Contact Sync Without an iPhone or iPod Touch

Mac OS X only: Earlier today we reported that Mac OS’s latest update to 10.5.3 included Google contact syncing to Address Book—if you’ve connected an iPhone or iPod touch to your Mac, that is. If you don’t have an iPhone or iPod touch and unlocking this useful bit of functionality isn’t worth paying hundreds of dollars for the device, a simple system tweak can turn it on for you.

Here's what you do:

  1. If you don't have the Property List Editor installed, download the shareware PlistEdit Pro and install.
  2. Open up ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iPod.plist and save a backup copy of it. Then, expand the tree to reveal "Family ID." Change that value to 10001, as shown above.
  3. Save your changes. Launch Address Book and open the Preference pane. The Google contact sync option will be staring right at you.

If the name is any indication, this plist entry only exists if you've used an iPod with your Mac—and I have, on my test machine—so I'm not sure what happens for users who have never paired an iPod with their Macs. Feel free to let us know how it goes in the comments. Thanks, joshua ferris!


  • Warning:
    If you have many email addresses in your contacts in gmail, your iphone will become much much slower, as all of these are duplicated and pushed to your iphone.

    I had about 400 genuine contacts in my Address Book, yet now my address book after sync is more like 2000 entries, most of which are email addresses I’ve emailed or cc’ed once, duplicated 3-5x.

    Not sure why this happened but I’m not planning on using this Sync until they let me meaningfully differentiate between “people I’ve emailed (ie, including @craigslist.org)” and the contacts that I really care about.

    For a company that prides itself on making meaning out of data, Google really loses here to Yahoo (which doesn’t do sync all that well either).

  • OK, I was able to change the family id of my iPod and AddressBook offered me the Google sync option. I’ve enabled it but nothing seems to happen. What do you have to do to actually sync?

  • I just tried this on a Mac without an ipod sync. I simply created a new plist with only the “dictionary” entries, and the “Family ID” entry. Everything works great.

  • Like Jacques (post June 3) above, I have no ipod, and the com.apple.ipod.plist file does not exist in my computer. Can anyone explain what I can do. All help appreciated.

  • Hi,
    I have an ipod classic. I was wondering if I change the value, if my Mac and iTunes will still recognize my ipod as it should. I want to prevent that my classic is treated as an ipod touch and messes up everything.

    Thanks for helping!

  • I also only have an iPod classic. I searched the web (with google images) for com.apple.iPod.plist and found an image with iPhone data. I made a new device and copied the necessary data.

  • Thanks for the heads up 🙂 I don’t have an iPhone/iPod or iTouch so I simply made a new plist file and copied all your information from the screenshot. Works like a charm.

    Just in case anyone else was wondering what to do if you didn’t have that file.


  • i was missing the plist file so I copied it from a machine that did then edited it as above and I only get the sync yahoo option not the google sync option.

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