This information is for Version 2.0 of Cardbox for Windows.
We recommend that you upgrade to Cardbox 3.

Palm Address Book  

(Technical support)

If you use a palmtop running PalmOS, you can export records from Cardbox directly to its Address Book application (Cardbox 3.0 can also export to the Memo Pad).  To do this, you use an option of HotSync called File Link.

File Link will only work if you have the Palm Desktop software installed.  Here is what Palm say about this:

If you are using the Microsoft Outlook conduit or any other third-party conduits, the File Link tool will not operate, as this feature only works with the Palm(tm) Desktop software. In order for you utilize the File Link tool, you must remove, and then reinstall, the Palm Desktop software, choosing the Palm Desktop software your as personal information manager (PIM).


File Link essentially sets up a link between a file on your computer and a category in Address Book.  Every time you synchronize your palmtop, HotSync looks at the file, and if there are any changes, it updates the category on your palmtop.

  • The file can be anywhere on your network, not just on your own PC.
  • You can tell File Link to operate once a day, or once a week, rather than on every HotSync.

File Link doesn't understand Cardbox files directly, so the other half of the equation is that you need to export records from your Cardbox database to the file that File Link will be looking at.  This is a simple process, and you can automate it using a macro.


In the simplest case, your Cardbox database can contain everything that you want to put into your chosen category on the palmtop.

Far more elaborate strategies are possible:

  • You can set up a shared database with your colleagues, and have a field saying whose palmtops each record should go onto.
  • You can set up a company-wide database of important contacts and export it, on a regular schedule, to a file on the network file server.  Each user can then set up a File Link to that file and have a permanently up-to-date contact list.

You are allowed to have more than one File Link for each application, so you can combine these strategies in any way you like.


According to Palm's documentation, the Address Book is limited to "approximately" 9,866 records.

Structure of the Palm Address Book database

First of all, you need to know something about the fields into which your palmtop divides its data.

The Address Book application uses up to nineteen fields, as follows:

Last Name
First Name
Zip Code
Custom 1
Custom 2
Custom 3
Custom 4

You will see that the layout is quite restrictive compared to Cardbox (in a Cardbox database, you wouldn't normally split up a name or an address into quite so many fragments).  The transfer methods that we describe in this article simply copy one Cardbox field to one Palm field, so you may have to compromise, either subdividing your Cardbox fields or misusing the Palm field slightly (eg. putting the whole of the address into the Palm "Address" field).

You can also get round this sort of problem by deciding that you'll only be using your Palm as a phone book, and simply not bothering with the address.

Step 1: export from Cardbox

Select the records you want, and use the File, Transfer, Write command to export them to a file.  You may already have a suitable output format set up, but if you don't then here are the options you need to use:

  • Comma-delimited format.
  • "Include a field header line" - OFF
  • Select the fields you want to output.
  • Choose a filename for the output.  Palm's documentation recommends that you use a name ending with .CSV, such as "MyAddresses.CSV".  Remember the name of the folder that you've put the file into, because you'll need to find it again later.

Step 2: set up File Link

  1. Right-click on the HotSync icon in your system tray and then select File Link in the menu that pops up; or open the Palm Desktop software and use the command HotSync, File Link.
  2. The File Link wizard opens.  Make sure you're working with the correct user (if there are multiple users that synchronize to this PC) and select "Create a new link", then press Next.
  3. Select "Address Book" from the list of applications.
  4. Press the Browse button and locate the CSV file that you created in Cardbox.
  5. Choose a category name.  Address Book divides your information into categories, and File Link needs to know which one to use.  Choose a name (such as "Cardbox") that you won't be using for anything else.
  6. A new dialog box will pop up, called "Specify Import Fields".  It will show you a list of the available Palm fields and a list of the fields that were read from your CSV file.  You can now match the two by dragging each Palm field until it is next to the corresponding data.  The dialog box, and its Help button, will give you full details.
  7. When you have matched up all the fields, press OK.
  8. The wizard will now ask you to confirm your link settings.  It will also let you choose how often to update your palmtop from the CSV file: usually the default setting, "Automatically updated", is enough, but if you have huge quantities of data to synchronize then you can make updates happen less often: once a day, or once a week, or once a month.


Synchronize your palmtop the way you always do, and you'll find that the data from Cardbox will end up on your palmtop as well.

  • Irritatingly, HotSync 3.0 will pop up a message box saying "Synchronization generated one or more messages. Please see the HotSync Log for details".  The message goes away after a minute, and if you look at the log, all it says is something like Successfully updated the file link category Cardbox with data from c:\palm.csv.  This irritation may have been removed in later versions of HotSync.

Keeping up to date

Once everything has been set up, all you have to do when you want to bring your palmtop up to date with changes in your Cardbox database is:

  1. Open Cardbox and select the records you want to have on your palmtop.
  2. Use File, Transfer, Write in the way we have already described.
  3. Synchronize your palmtop.

See also

Frequently Asked Questions: File Link on PalmOne's web site.


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