When you work across multiple devices and multiple computers on a daily basis, keeping the information you expect to be there the same across all of them used to be a monstrous pain. This is where synchronization comes in.
I have 3 “computers” I use every day: my iMac, my Macbook Pro, and my iPhone. On each of those computers, I have several programs that may need to access the same type of data.
Bookmarks are synchronized using Xmarks. This allows me to sync them across Safari, Google Chrome and Firefox. And because the bookmarks are sync’d to Safari via a background process, I can use Mobileme to sync them to my iPhone. All this happens in the background, without me having to think about it. I just add a bookmark somewhere, and minutes later it’s reflected everywhere else.
Email rules, accounts and signatures are synchronized via Mobileme and appear on all my computers and my iPhone. Contacts are sync’d via Mobileme and appear everywhere. Same with calendars, except calendars is the real win. I can make an calendar entry on my iPhone, and it’s instantly sync’d to my calendars on my laptop and desktop.
I have some files and programs that I need access to, I sync those with Mobileme across all my devices via iDisk. I can access those everywhere, even on my iPhone. I even created a directory in there called “Scripts;” with a change to my bash path on my Macs, any scripts I write are sync’d too.
And all this stuff happens more or less instantly and completely transparently to me. Via the Internet and over the air for the iPhone. I don’t even have to plug anything in. It just happens. I can’t believe computers ever worked any other way, and there is no way I can do without it now.
Xmarks is free. Mobileme is $99 a year, but totally worth it simply in the headache I save in not having to deal with disparate data spread over 3 devices.