Sync BibDesk papers to MobileMe iDisk

Wouldn’t it be nice to have all your scolarly articles stored where you can always reach them for future reference? I’m sure you have them nicely organized on your computer or even laptop, but we don’t want to carry that around all the time, right? Many Apple-users may have selected to use Bibdesk to automagically store their articles, but that does not (yet?) provide any solution of syncing these articles with any kind of device. Fortunately, as part of the MobileMe service, Apple now provides the opportunity to store your BibDesk articles on the web, while retaining full-speed access to them when working on your own computer. Let’s see how to set it up …

The IDisk that comes with Apple’s MobileMe service is a 10Gb webspace (can be increased to 20Gb at the cost of mail storage space, or even more at the cost of more money) that automatically mounts as a web-disk on your desktop, is accessible through the internet, can be shared with others, and can be accessed from any other computer using either MacOSX or Windows (and I’m sure Linux as well) as a web-disk. Moreover, when working on a Mac of your own, the web-disk is automatically synced to a local drive, so you don’t have to rely on the speed of the web to have access to your files.

It is very easy to set this up in combination with BibDesk. Assuming you have Bibdesk installed and MobileMe working, just follow these steps:

  • Activate your MobileMe iDisk Sync. You’ll find this setting in the MobileMe preferences, under the iDisk tab
  • Go to BibDesk
  • Activate AutoFile if you haven’t alreadu (from the settings)
  • Do one of the following:
    • If you set up BibDesk to autofile your documents in a fixed location, change this location to a folder on your iDisk
    • If you set up BibDesk to autofile your documents in a location `relative to each document’, do nothing.
  • Move your BibDesk library to your references folder on your iDisk
  • In BibDesk: select all your references and then select from the the ‘Publication’ pull-down menu to ‘AutoFile Linked Files’.

That’s it, you’re done! Allways remember to make a backup of your files before you try this, but it is a rather simple and safe procedure. BibDesk will function as it always did, and as fast as it did because your iDisk is synced to your hard drive. Documents are now automatically synced to the web moments after you added them to BibDesk and available for future reference wherever you are.

Was this helpfull, and did it work for you as described? Please let me know in the comments below.

5 comment on “Sync BibDesk papers to MobileMe iDisk

  • Cool. BUt about the ones of us that do not want to pay apple for the mobileme thing? I do use BibDesk and Mac… have you consider something using google docs? So far I just export from BibDesk a plain text file with some of the info that I have in the full bibdesk file (in order to keep my references available when away from my comp). BUt it would be very good to have full bibdesk access… any solution for that?

  • I’m certainly looking into that (i.e. to prevent spending money on MobileMe 😉 )

    I think it will be possible, since the iDisk is basically nothing more than a web-disk. It should be possible doing this with any kind of webdisk, as long as it mounts as a ‘normal’ disk in the finder. However, loosing the ability to sync the webdisk to your harddisk would also mean loosing the ability to access your library and papers when not connected to the internet. If I find something, I’ll write about it though.

  • My solution was to have a launchd item that runs rsync on my local Papers folder and the one on my iDisk every few hours. I’m sure with a bit of finessing to test if the target disk is mounted or not this could probably be a pretty bombproof way to sync with the third party web-disk of your choice whilst still retaining a local copy for offline use.

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