Advanced MobileMe Troubleshooting

Russ Snediker -

This is an in-depth troubleshooting guide for resolving difficult MobileMe issues. In order for this approach to work, you must use a COPY of the data that is stored locally on a computer — NOT data stored on the iPhone. Additionally, Forget Computers is NOT responsible for ANY data loss that may occur resulting from the following steps, as these steps WILL delete data that is stored in multiple locations.


We must first isolate the issue to being related to the machine, the cloud, or the device.

  1. How does the user know that there is an issue? Do they see a problem on the computer, iPhone, or MobileMe web interface (cloud).
  2. Follow the problem starting with the computer, and follow it to the web. Does the issue appear on the computer, web, and iPhone; or just the iPhone? NOTE: This will allow you to see if only MobileMe needs to be rebuilt, or if you must rebuild iCal as well.
  3. If iCal needs to be reset in addition to MobileMe, export each calendar as an invidual .ics file, and delete the Finder files (~/Library/iCal/ ~/Library/Preferences/ etc.)
  4. Relaunch iCal, and import the .ics files that were previously created.


During this process we will backup all critical data then delete all data off MobileMe.

  1. Back up all critical applications (Address Book, iCal, and Safari Bookmarks) using the Export function from the File menu of each application.
  2. If the user has an iPhone, delete the MobileMe account from the iPhone by navigating to Settings > Mail, Contacts, and Calendars > Select the account, and select Delete at the bottom of the screen. A dialog box will populate and select "Delete contact from the iPhone."
  3. Unregister all computers from Mobile Me by navigating to System Preferences > Sync > Advanced. Unregister all computers from MobileMe.
  4. After a minute or two (wait for it), delete all the information from MobileMe by checking all the boxes and choose "Delete content from MobileMe".
  5. Wait about five minutes then create a new user on a separate computer. NOTE: This will provide a clean user account for testing, as well as isolate any problems between MobileMe and a problem with the user's software.
  6. Once in the new user account, open iCal and Address Book. Add one calendar event (the "me" contact will already have populated in Address book, so no need to create a contact in Address Book).


During this process we will force syncing with a fresh set of clean data, moving data from a new user account on the workstation to MobileMe.

  1. Log in to MobileMe in System Preferences in the new user account and click on the Sync tab. 
  2. Select the checkbox that says "Synchronize with MobileMe", and change the frequency box to Manually.
  3. Select the services you'd like synced (Bookmarks, calendars, contacts, notes). NOTE: If MobileMe has already begun syncing, then stop the sync or the next steps won't be possible.
  4. Click the Advanced button in the bottom right corner.
  5. Select Reset Sync Data, and replace all sync info on MobileMe with the sync info from this computer.
  6. Login  to the web interface of MobileMe. It may take some time before the data on MobileMe reflects the sync that you have just made. Be patient and wait up to 30 minutes for it to refresh. Feel free to hit refresh on the web interface as it will not interfere with the sync. NOTE: If the web interface of MobileMe is having difficulties updating, you can try adding another contact and calendar event on the client applications and force a sync. If the issue is STILL persisting, head back to step 3 of Backup & Preparation.
  7. Once MobileMe has been refreshed with the new test data, ensure that additional contact and calendar events also sync successfully to MobileMe. Keep in mind, MobileMe is still set to sync manually.
  8. Head back to the MobileMe preference pane, and delete all of the content that's currently on MobileMe from the advanced tab (see step 3 of "Backup & Preparation").


During this process we will restore the original data to the newly cleaned MobileMe and test syncing with multiple devices (if applicable).

  1. Log back in to the original user account and reset the sync data from the users machine up to MobileMe. (Repeat steps 1 – 7 under "Reset & Clean MobileMe".)
  2. Ensure that the data has made it up to MobileMe successfully.
  3. If the user has multiple machines, it is best to manually delete from the Finder, on the other client machines, all data that is being synced. This will force them to pull down the "known good" data from MobileMe.
  4. Set sync frequency to Automatic in the MobileMe System Preference pane, and configure iPhone for syncing if applicable.
  5. Test sync functionality between devices (iPhone, workstations and MobileMe).
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