Hands on: Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac review

Sync your Mac and Windows Phone 7

Hands on Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac

Mac users planning to buy Windows Phone 7 devices may want to wait until 24 October, when they can download the beta of the Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac.

This is the software that lets you sync music, videos and podcasts onto your phone, copy photos and videos you've taken on your phone and update the Windows Phone 7 OS.

We took a look at the alpha version of the connector utility and it's certainly not the equivalent of the Zune software; this is a simple sync tool that lets you pick content to transfer.

It works with iTunes 9 and iPhoto 09 and above; if you don't have both of those on your Mac, you won't be able to sync all your content to Windows Phone. If you do, syncing content is very straightforward.

iTunes and iphoto

UPDATE APPS: If you don't have a recent copy of iPhoto you can't sync photos because the Windows Phone 7 Connector for Mac needs it to build the library; the same goes for ITunes and music

The connector software loads an agent when you start your Mac so it can open the app automatically when you plug in your phone. It also puts an icon in the Menu bar extras area so you can open the app yourself.

Enable sync

GET STARTED: If you swap your Windows Phone between different computers you'll see this every time you plug it in to your Mac

The Windows Phone 7 Connector picks up music, podcasts and downloaded videos from the iTunes library and photos and videos you've taken yourself from iPhoto, so you don't end up with multiple copies of files.

You can choose photos and videos to copy by events, recognised faces and albums – but you have to take all the photos from an album or event. And even if you have a small enough photo library to want to transfer all of them, you have to specifically choose to sync videos. You can choose under Sync Options whether photos are resized to fit the screen (which is the default) or copied full size.

You can't browse music by album name, just a list of artists with a sub-hierarchy of albums – and you have to sync a whole album, rather than individual tracks; even the search only finds artists and album titles, not tracks.

You can also choose a genre or a playlist to sync to the phone; dynamic Genius playlists from iTunes don't show up, but if you save a Genius playlist in iTunes it shows up in the connector software immediately. Wmart playlists like top rated and recently played are there, too.

Sync music

ALL OF IT: You can pick playlists, genres, artists or individual albums - but not specific tracks

The Connector syncs music information from the Zune service for things like the artist backgrounds that appear in the music and videos hub as you play different albums. Turn off syncing for an album in the list and it will be deleted from the phone.

You can't use the connector to transfer DRM-protected files from iTunes, and you have to convert lossless AACs to AAC in iTunes before you transfer them.

Photos and videos from the phone are automatically synced to your Mac when you plug in your phone; the Browse Device section lets you see what's on the phone (separated into the different content types, but in one long scrolling list that you can't collapse into sections) and you can delete individual files.

That way you can get rid of snaps you've saved a copy of; it's also the only way we've found to have just a couple of tracks from an album – you have to transfer all of them and delete the others by hand.

Sync options

SYNC OPTIONS: You don't get a choice about transcoding video, just resizing photos and whether you want to sync photos and video you record on the phone

Be careful with the option to delete all content from Sync Options; that deletes the photos and videos you've shot from the phone too, as well as media downloaded from Zune marketplace.

One thing to bear in mind. You can connect a Windows Phone to multiple computers – Macs and PCs – though you will need to enable sync on each computer every time you connect; but you can't transfer all your content back and forth.

Browse device

BROWSE DEVICE: Check your music has copied or clear off your photos - from the right Mac

Microsoft says you can only delete content from the computer you loaded it from (which could be a problem if you want to sync photos from work and your phone is full of music from home) and although you can see all the photos on your phone in Browse Device, you can only manage the photos you've synced from the Mac you're connected to at the moment in the Photos & Video section of the connector

However Microsoft's Aaron Woodman told TechRadar: "If I'm purchasing music from Zune, I can play it on my iPhone; you own the MP3 so it's able to be copied to anywhere."

And we were able to copy MP3 files we'd synced onto a Windows Phone with the Mac connector into the Zune collection on our PC using the Zune software -and use the Zune software to delete individual tracks we'd synced from the Mac.


AUTOSTART: If you don't plug your phone in often, you might not want the agent running

There are plenty of things Mac users don't get with the connector: no browsing and installing apps, for one thing. It appears that using a Zune Pass with Windows Phone and a Mac (or buying specific content from Zune) will mean syncing the music directly from Zune Marketplace on the phone.

But given that Apple is unlikely to let Microsoft connect Windows Phone directly to iTunes, the connector gives you at least basic syncing on a Mac.

Zune with mac music

MAC TO PC: The music we synced to the Windows Phone shows up on a PC and we can copy or delete it

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