Syncing contacts with Google in Mountain Lion

I just installed Mountain Lion on my MacBook but I couldn’t work out how to set up synchronisation of the contacts stored on my Google account as this seemed to be left out of the Google synchronisation options:

Google syncing seems to be missing contacts
Google syncing seems to be missing contacts

I tried adding an exchange account in the same way you achieve push email and contact synchronisation from Google on the iPhone, but there didn’t seem to be an option to enable SSL so this didn’t work (fix this Apple!).

Trying to add the Google Exchange Server but there's no SSL option
Trying to add the Google Exchange Server but there’s no SSL option!

Finally I opened up the Contacts application and went to the account settings and there (somewhat randomly in my opinion), under the “On My Mac” account, is an option to sync with Google.

Google contacts sync at last
Google contacts sync at last

Seems Apple don’t really want you syncing your contacts with Google.

  • Kelley Chambers

    Thank you very much for this. I just installed the final developer’s version of 10.8 and ran into the exact same thing. This is an excellent yet brief tutorial. Many thanks!

  • Ryan

    Thanks for posting this, ran into the exact same issue myself.

  • Paul


    I did this on my macbook air, and while it seemed to ‘work’ (I use 2-step authentication and added a new application-specific password just for this), there does not appear to be an actual sync either way once this is done. I added a contact on my google contacts, and it did not get pushed down to my machine. I also added a contact on the local copy of Contacts, and it did not get pushed up to google.

    Do you know how this is actually working and if anything further has to be done to force a sync between the two? Perhaps something on the google account side that I have not set up?

    Thanks for this – I’m glad to see this starting point, just looking forward to getting to the finish line here!

    • Kevin

      I found the same thing; it doesn’t sync, it only merges once and then that’s it. Any changes after the fact are not reflected on the other system.

    • Jed

      For me a “Sync now” option appears in the main OSX menu bar at the top. Clicking on it causes the Contacts app to merge any local changes with the latest version of the contacts data from Google. I haven’t worked out if this happens automatically on some sort of fetch schedule, but it certainly isn’t push.

      I’d really like it if the Contacts app just properly synced 2 way with Google over MS Exchange, its freaking frustration. Mountain Lion + Google Services seems pretty half baked right now.

    • Karen Cheah

      I have this same problem too. I also noticed that the checkbox “Synchronise with Google” gets unticked after the sync (one time). And then you can’t even manually sync it using the Sync Now on the menu bar. And I thought it was that easy to setup syncing with Google contacts…

  • James

    Thank you for this post! What a strange place to put the sync

  • Adam Stephenson

    This does indeed sync, but it’s only one-way and only happens once. Any change you make after the first sync, does not then sync back to Google. Very strange!

  • Adam Stephenson

    Further update, It does 2 way sync, but for some reason, you have to manually press the sync button in the menu bar.

  • Stephan H.

    Anyone have a screenshot that shows where the “Sync now” button appears in the Contacts app? I have setup sync with Google in the preferences but the sync does not seem to keep itself up to date — and I can’t find that button to activate it either.

    • Luke Fitzgerald

      The sync now option is not in the Contacts app but in the menu bar:

      Sync icon in the menu bar

  • Luis

    Thanks so much for this post. It does work but the SYNC is manual not automatic. to summarize all the steps:

    1) Enable Google Sync as per the screenshots above
    2) “Force” a manual sync from OSX top menu bar as per the Luke’s comment

  • Paul

    So I am following up on my earlier comment and would welcome a response from Luke or anyone else – it is not something that has been discussed above in comments or original post:

    Is there a way to ensure all the iCloud contacts are always synced with the ‘on my mac’ contacts? If I add a contact on the iCloud side (say, on my iPhone directly), and then open my mac, I see them on the iCloud set, but there is not a copy on the ‘on my mac’ set. I want this to be automatically pushing everything on the iCloud to ‘on my mac’

    Why this is relevant to the google sync discussion: for now I have de-activated the google sync feature, because it syncs with the ‘on my mac’ list and that list is not an exact copy of my iCloud list. Until that is the case, I will just manually overwrite my google contacts with whatever is on iCloud… there is no point in having google sync with that manual button at the top of the screen if one also has to figure out how to make sure iCloud and ‘on my mac’ copies are identical.

    • Paul

      Bueller… Bueller…

      Any thoughts here would be appreciated. Luke, you seem to be all over this sync concept and I’m trying to understand how to ensure that anything entered in iCloud (say, on an iPhone) is automatically pushed to the local ‘on my mac’ copy.

      Otherwise, the ‘sync now’ button is useless since it won’t push things added within iCloud without adding yet another manual step of copying from iCloud to ‘on my mac’.

      I’m hoping there is a toggle that does this and I’m just missing it.

      PS. I hope my movie reference elicits laughter – it was meant in good fun

      • Luke Fitzgerald

        I’m afraid I don’t use iCloud myself, but from what I do know, I don’t think what you want to do is possible with the standard OS X functions.

        • Paul

          Thanks – and thanks again for posting all this in the first place.

  • john jeffrey

    I am brand new to an imac so excuse my probably thick question but how do you get to the accounts settings page on contacts application!! thank you for this post i have hung a pc and apple mobile devices off google calendar and just taken a plunge into an imac (i still need to run a pc for legacy product reasons) – it is not proving so easy with the imac as it has with apple mobile devices!

    as an aside – if any one can point me to a link or tell me how to get multiple google calendars (same google calendar account)displaying on ical then I would be very grateful, thank you John

  • john jeffrey

    ok – answered my own question and found accounts setting in drop down menus top left

  • Brian Neisler

    Thanks, just saved me a few hours of frustration.

  • Friend 3525

    Awesome! Thank you for sharing this.

  • Kalle

    Thank you for sharing this! I just spent 1 hour figuring out this. Afraid I had to export/import from iPhone.

    Awesome! Thanks!

  • nevrozel

    I don’t know if it has already been said but if you have BOTH iCloud and Google sync setup in Contacts, Google will NOT sync. As per Contacts help:

    “If you’re syncing contacts with Google Contacts and you add an iCloud account, Google syncing is turned off. It’s recommended to keep it turned off while using the iCloud Contacts service.”

    So if you need Google sync, turn off iCloud sync from Contacts preferences and immediately a Sync icon will appear in MenuBar to force sync with Google. 😉

  • dmcg

    There is a better way. Set up your contacts as CardDAV as discussed here.

    • Xavier

      Thanks for that link, works like a charm!

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