Did you know you can use Palm Desktop with your Android phone?

Did you know you can use Palm Desktop with your Android phone?

Summary: This $49 piece of software provides a sync conduit (remember conduits?) from your copy of Palm Desktop to your Android phone.


There was a time, not so long ago, that I was a dedicated Palm user. Heck, I started PalmPower Magazine, way back in 1997. I livedoff my Palm device, from the very earliest PalmPilot to my once beloved Treo phone.

See also: Why old people still like their PDAs

Through it all was Palm Desktop. Palm Desktop was the desktop application that made using the Palm devices so smooth. All it had was an address book, calendar, to-do list, and note/memo fields, but it was so much easier entering data using a full-sized keyboard on the Palm Desktop, and knowing that once I pushed the Sync button, it would be with me, everywhere.

The last version of Palm Desktop was updated about four years ago. Palm stopped selling Palm OS devices around 2008-2009, with the introduction of the Tungsten TX, Treo 680, and small Centro phone marking the final generation.

As we all know from recent history, Palm decided to move to a completely new operating system, webOS, taking none of its ecosystem or thousands of enthusiastic developers with it. Shortly later, HP bought Palm for an all-cash $1.2 billion deal, and shortly after that, HP proceeded to take all things Palm out back of the barn, and shoot it dead.

See also: Palm, a Silicon Valley soap opera

It was a bizarre ending for what was once the most successful mobile product out there.

Interestingly enough, there are still lots of people out there nursing along their old Palm devices and Palm Desktop copies, trying to get a few more months out of them before having to face the inevitable migration to a new environment.

I know people who had Palm devices that died, and they've scoured eBay for replacements, or just run with all their data on a badly limping copy of Palm Desktop.

Don't scoff. Palm Desktop was brilliant and fit millions of people's working styles perfectly.

Now, up until recently, I've been telling people they'd have to move to a new environment, whether it's Outlook, Gmail, or even the Apple infrastructure, because there's just no Palm solution.

But now there is. Thanks to reader Kevin Smith (I know!), I've been made aware of a piece of software from CompanionLink called CompanionLink for Palm Desktop. This $49 piece of software provides a sync conduit (remember conduits?) from your copy of Palm Desktop to your Android phone.

UPDATE: Read the comments before you buy this software. Some readers have complained about challenges using it. I haven't used it, so do your research first.

Yep, you can -- essentially -- turn your Android phone into a Palm device, at least when it comes to the Big Four. They sync most of the Big Four data you'd like to sync.

So if you're converting from Palm to say, the Google ecosystem with Android, or you just want to eek out a few more years of Palm Desktop on that one remaining XP machine you've got (or you're running a virtual XP on your Windows 7 or Windows 8 box), now you've got the answer.

Good luck. And may the sync be with you.

Screenshot courtesy CompanionLink.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Palm Desktop in 64-bit Windows

    FYI, I recently help setup the last version of Palm Desktop to sync with an old Tungsten E2 to Windows 7 64-bit through bluetooth without needing Windows XP. I wonder if CompanionLink would work with that setup? I still have a Palm TX but the only data I need at this point is my notes as I migrated everything else the hard way over a year ago. Thanks for this as I have a couple of friends who will find this very useful as I help them transition.
  • Heck with that...

    I'd like to load PalmOS on my android device in emulation. That'd be awesome.

    BTW, it's "eke", not "eek", in this context.
    • PalmOS on Android is possible!

      You guys May or May not know this but theres an app to use palm os on you droid devices its called StyleTapp site- http://www.styletap.com/product_android.php check it out might be worth it
  • Another reason to favor Microsoft on Wall Street

    Google should give up this 'openness' stuff and focus on walling off competition. Heaven forbid if you use a Palm Desktop. Google is derelict to let you interact with your stuff any way you want.

    How can investors expect exorbitant profits if Android permits other than Chrome desktops. There is way to make up in volume for less than Apple (60%) margins.
  • Speaking of Golden Oldies

    It's pretty hilarious looking at the aftermarket IR transceiver clip-ons that are being rolled out to provide smartphones with universal remote capability. Taking a look at what my old, still working, Axim x50v could and can do, and pondering the once-great partnership Dell had with HTC, I'm wondering how many times a day TPTB at Dell kick themselves over having essentially bobbled the entire smartphone market into Apple's hands. (Look carefully at the GUI the Axim line had, and many of the recent patent suits filed against HTC should get added points for sheer chutzpah....)
  • Pimlical

    There is also Pimlical from Pimlico Software, written as a Palm Desktop replacement by the author of DateBk. It currently supports syncing through Google calendar to Android phones. The author is also working on a direct USB sync capability that avoids going through the Google cloud.
  • B-Folders provides perfect syncing from Palm to Android

    I had a very difficult time finding information about this when I first switched over from my Palm T|X to my new HTC Droid Incredible. So, since I finally found a program that worked, I thought I???d share ???

    I was a long-time (since 1994) Palm user (Pilot > M500 > Tungsten E > E2 > T|X) and couldn't face making the switch to a smartphone. I researched like crazy until I found an app called B-Folders. I was able to just *import* all of my Contacts (it even put stuff into the right fields!) and my Memos (over 1,200) from Palm desktop (no re-keying). This was even trickier because I was syncing to a Mac running OSX Snow Leopard.

    I only wish I would have found it before wasting tons of time, money and corrupting data with Missing Sync for Palm. Warning: that program *definitely* doesn???t do what it promises. :(

    B-Folders has a nested folder system that works just like Palm's categories (only you can have an unlimited number of them and can combine Contacts, Memos, and Passwords all the in the same folder if you want). It's more versatile than Palm (it has this feature of "customizable cards" to keep all sorts of stuff).

    I had been using an encrypted password program in addition to Palm before - now it's all in this B-Folders program which even auto-fills your passwords into the login pages you've stored.

    Can you tell I really like this app? And it's all "off the cloud" secure, just like Palm. And easy backups provide a great sense of security - especially when I???ve never had to use them! And I???ve been using it for over a year and a half. :)
    • which Palm OS?

      I fully understand your relief. I did manage, through CSV files, to transfer from Palm to Google, at least Calendar and Addresses so far. But in order to do this, I had to switch Palm to the 6.2 version. Do you think, with B-folders, I could come back to the 4 version, which I much prefer?
      Many thks and a Happy New Year to all Palm fans!
  • Also works for Outlook/Android without needing cloud

    Companionlink (Windows) also works in concert with DejaOffice (Android) to handle much the same data with Outlook. And it does this using either USB or WiFi WITHOUT sending data through the cloud to ANY 3rd party service. No Exchange server is required either - just a local copy of Outlook on Windows and DejaOffice on your Android smartphone or tablet. No routing through Google is needed either (although supported).

    Like our host, I used Palm for years. I stopped at the Zire 31 (I have two and according to David's blog, I should try to sell them?) simply because of Palm's lack of USB support in 64bit Windows. I did setup a cludge for a year using an old XP based PC on my home/office network.

    While there are things my Android based smartphone does that my Palm did not, I still very much miss the smooth rapid sync via Hotsync Manager to Outlook (I have always preferred using Outlook to Palm Desktop if only because Palm Desktop had no email client). While Companionlink does everything it claims to do, in my opinon it is still not as fast and convenient as Palm's Hotsync Manager.

    If the idiot management at Palm had developed a 64bit USB driver, and provided a reasonable upgrade path to WebOS (like a PalmOS emulator), I strongly suspect I would be using a Palm branded smartphone today.

    While I own one, I've never been a big Android fan - mostly because of the very close ties to Google. I'm hoping MS and Nokia hangs in there and Verizon gives us better Windows phone options, because I am watching closely for when my current contract is settled.
    Jim Johnson
  • I used Goosync

    To sync my palm to google, then my android could just see the stuff.
  • Not "badly limping" here...

    My aging copy of Palm Desktop (2004, v.4.1.4) works just fine in my copy of 32-bit Win7. When I bought a new machine in January, I fought like mad to avoid the 64-bit trap and I am very happy that I did. I've been a happy Palm Desktop user since the days when it was called Sidekick 98. Works great and does everything I need, just like the Tungsten-E that I sync it with. I hope that I can keep it going another 14-years! :)
  • Why can't we have PalmOS back?

    Over a 7 year span I used Symbian, Android, iOS and Windows phones... I'm still looking for the clear, intelligent, responsive and FAST PalmOS interface I had in my Palm TX ...
  • Just syncing stuff?

    Considering my old TX has one of the best MP3 players I've ever used (the techniques to keep its memory usage low despite thousands of songs on the SD card beat anything on "smarter" phones hands down without the goofball techniques used by some), can play MPG video, WMV and MP4 (and all on a 333MHz processor) AND has a battery life of 9 hours active, has a plethora of I/O from IRDA, BT and WiFi, has software (drivers) that allows it to be a USB host, use any size SD card I like (tested with a 128G card in read mode and 32G cards in Read/Write) and more... kind of leaves me feeling like one of those "smart" phones would be a step.. backwards.
  • Best on Palm

    IMHO, the best calculator for any platform (and I really like HP calculators) is EasyCalc on Palm OS. Programmable, matrix and vector operations, complex numbers, fancy functions (Bessel, Gamma), number theory functions, ...

    I keep my Treo 680 around so I can run it.
    • EasyCalc

      Sadly the Palm OS version is no longer available only WinMobile
  • Why I chose BlackBerry

    I tried to make Android work when I had to find something better than my Centro.
    I have years of notes and calendar and lots of contacts.

    I switched to Outlook and BlackBerry and now have everything synced and have the most productive device with a great keyboard, way better than the Treo.
    John Hanks
  • Worst Software package combination ever

    I am an avid Palm user from day 1 and still have some Palm Treo 650s that work most of the time. I went to Sprint's Motorola XPRT because of the Palm like keyboard. I love the phone and its functions. I discovered Pimlical and Companionlink and DejaOffice when I got the XPRT. I do not link to Google because I do not need or want my records in the sky and I don't trust their security.
    However, the combination of Pimlical, Companionlink and DejaOffice is the WORST group of software packages out on the market. I use them because there basically is nothing else available that syncs all of Palm (calendar, tasks, memos and contacts).
    Every time I go to sync, before I sync, I back up Pimlical because I always run into some problem. I also write my records into a paper diary because I'm afraid of a catastrophic error, which happens every once in a while. I've had to recreate many hundreds of records a few times.
    I'm ALWAYS getting either duplicate records or deleted records. Records don't match up.
    If these guys wrote software for me, I'd have fired them a long time ago. I don't believe they ever tested their products before releasing them on to the market.
    I'd be willing to pay more for a thoroughly tested package.
    Let's see some better product.
    • Not all it's cracked up to be

      I was so excited to discover this article and software. I was finally going to get my Palm Desktop back! However, even as a programmer/QA person, I can't get the trial version to sync more than 18 calendar entries from Outlook (was looking to sync there thru the Droid back to Palm) and no all-day or multi-day events.

      I've attempted to contact Tech Support via email and phone. I'm just encouraged to purchase Premium support for an additional $129 for a limit of 5 calls. Seriously - charging 2.5 times the cost of the software (which I haven't bought yet since I wanted to know it would work first)? I agree with mannyhitek - it's a terrible set of software.
  • Another missed Palm opportunity

    A network version of their Palm desktop. There was a point in which a number of Palm users I knew wished there was a way to share contacts and calendars with others in their office. This may have been around the time when seemingly most of Palm's excutives and top engineering people decided to go on long, lonnng vacations that allowed all their competitors to not only catch up with them, but to start to pass them by.

    There should be general term for when tech companies randomly stop improving their products for an extended period of time, and for no discernible reason. Kodak, Cisco (with Flip), Palm....
    • Palm development

      re: 'Another missed Palm opportunity' - it ain't that easy to get a product out the door to begin with and then keep it up to date for several generations. The tech developers get burned out after the first three generations of working 80 hour weeks and leave, then mgmt outsources software dev to India and bugs proliferate and quality suffers and users get pissed and sales plummet etc etc then the new team comes in to do the update but then they all leave to Apple etc. It takes incredible discipline and long hours to keep up the quality standards of Apple or Toyota. There is a reason the Japanese have a word for dying from exhaustion and overwork.
      Friedrich Pietro