How to sync your Windows Mobile device to a Windows Vista PC

This article will take you through the steps to set up and sync your Windows Mobile device with a PC running Windows Vista.

Before you get too far into it, make sure that you meet the following requirements:

System Requirements

  • Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows Vista Server “Longhorn”
  • Microsoft Outlook 2003 or Microsoft Outlook 2007 are required for synchronization of e-mail, contacts, tasks and notes to your PC.

    Supported Devices

  • Windows Mobile 2003
  • Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition
  • Windows Mobile 5.0
  • Windows Mobile 5.0 with Messaging and Security Feature Pack
  • Windows Mobile 6
  • Windows Embedded CE 6.0
  • As long as you have one of the above mentioned versions of Vista, and a mobile device/PDA running one of the above listed operating systems, you should have no problem setting everything up.

    Setting Up the Windows Mobile Device Center in Vista

    1. When you plug your Windows Mobile device into a PC running Vista for the first time, you should be notified the device drivers are being installed, and eventually a window similar to the screenshot below will pop up. Just close this window if it appears.
    2. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
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    3. Navigate to your Control Panel and double-click the Windows Mobile Device Center icon. If it’s not there, don’t worry – just skip down to step 4.
    4. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
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    5. When opened, you can set a couple (not many) of the Windows Mobile device connection settings. Make sure at least one of the connection methods is enabled.

      If you’re not presented with the window below (Connection Settings), scroll down and see if the window similar to the one in step 6 is displayed. If it is, that means you have the full Windows Mobile Device Center already installed, and can continue on at step 6.

    6. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
      click to enlarge

    7. In order to sync your email, notes and calendar from Outlook, you’ll want to download Windows Mobile Device Center 6.1 for Windows Vista. Save the file to your desktop (or any folder) and once the download has completed, run it.
    8. Follow the few installation steps (which mostly consist of clicking ‘Next’ a few times).
    9. Now go back to the Control Panel and double-click on the Windows Mobile Device Center. Make sure your Windows Mobile device is plugged in and the status is set to Connected. Click the Set up your device button.

      syncing a smartphone in windows vista
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    10. Select the elements you want to sync to your mobile device and then click Next.
    11. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
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    12. Give your device a name, and if you want to quickly access the Windows Mobile Device Center from your desktop, leave the Create a shortcut option selected. Click Set Up to continue.
    13. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
      click to enlarge

    14. Your mobile device and PC will now start to synchronize.
    15. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
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    16. And once completed, you’ll be presented with the Device Center ‘home’ screen.
    17. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
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    18. You’ll know when your device is synchronizing by the small ‘green arrows’ system tray icon (very similar to the Active Sync icon you may have seen/used in previous versions of Windows).
    19. syncing a smartphone in windows vista

    20. From the Windows Mobile Device Center ‘home’ screen you can change your device settings, upload and download files to/from your device etc. Select the Change content sync settings in the Mobile Device Settings window.
    21. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
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    22. Below you’ll see the options for changing the sync settings. Select the Sync Settings link in the E-mail section.
    23. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
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    24. From here you can customize exactly how you want your email to be synchronized. Make any changes you wish, and then click the Save button.
    25. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
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    26. Repeat step 13 but choose the Calendar settings. Again, make any changes you deem appropriate.
    27. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
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    28. Clicking Save will make the changes immediately.
    29. syncing a smartphone in windows vista
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    Home » Mobile Phones » Windows Mobile » How to sync your Windows Mobile device to a Windows Vista PC

    81 thoughts on “How to sync your Windows Mobile device to a Windows Vista PC”

    1. I can’t change my file Sync Settings, i keep getting an Unhandled exception error, Object reference not set to an instance of an object. Any Ideas???

    2. i check the files and i choice a file then i do save but the windows mobile device center so done not connected at the all time

    3. Doesn’t work with Office 2010. WMDC doesn’t recognize the presence of Outlook 2010 and erased all calendar and contacts from phone.
      Fortunatly it didn’t erased from outlook. But now the phone is empty and can’t syncronize.
      Any ideas?

    4. I’m having trouble syncing my Omnia II with Outlook on Windows Vista. Had to re do windows after a virus and now can’t sync.

    5. wow ! finally a help guide which works to the T . great stuff and amazing clarity in explaining all the stuff. thanks a ton.

    6. Ik hoop dat iemand mij met een handig antwoord kan helpen, Ik heb een HTC Diamond telefoon met Windows Mobile 6.1 Ik maak daarmee oa videotjes die volgens het toestel MP4 zijn.
      Ik breng de video’ naar mijn laptop en daar kunnen ze niet herkend worden in Media Center of welk Windows of Microsoft programma dan ook (ik heb Vista).
      Vreemd want eigenlijk is het vanuit een Windows Mobile omgeving weer naar een Windows omgeving. Ik heb mijn Vista geherinstalleerd. Daarvoor deed mijn PC ook het geluid niet van deze videotjes en op de een of andere manier -ik weet niet meer hoe- is het probleem toen wel verholpen.

      Ook in het wel bekende VLC programma draaien ze wel beeld, maar geen geluid.

      Wie kan mij helpen?

    7. parabens pelo post ficou bom e me ajudou a resolver um problema que eu ja achava que nao tinha soluçao… nao entendo muito dessas coisas mas achei que o post ficou muito bem explicado. muito obrigado mesmo

    8. hallo, I have HTC HD2 and I have problem with synchronizing files. me everything works like it (contacts, tasks, notes, calendar, … …) but I need to synchronize the one folder that will not fit into the internal memori. that I gave her the card but I setup Sync. to take the card. when I described the the component of the PC in win.mob.centre started to pull her into the folder but there is full. I do not know what can. Can anyone advise me? pls !!!!!!!!!

    9. zdravim , mam htc hd2 a mam problem so synchronizaciou suborov. vsetko mi funguje v pohode (kontakty, ulohy,poznamky,kalendar……) ale potrebujem synchronizovat aj jednu zlozku ktora sa nezmesti do internej ze som ju dal na kartu ale neviem nastavit synchr. aby brala aj kartu. ked som oznacil tu zlozku z pc vo win.mob.centre zacalo ju tahat do internej ale tam sa nezmestila . neviem co s tym . vedel by mi niekto poradit?pls!!!!!!!!!

    10. I really frustrated – for many days I try to sync my HTC Touch Diamon WM6.1 with Outlook 2003
      ( Windows 7 WMDC 6.1 )
      The connection seems to be ok. Mobile Favorits and Notes can be synced, but as soon I config the wmdc for contacts or calender, the syncronize center never comes to an end.
      I created an empty PST file to avoid corrupted entries but it dídn’t helped.

      Any guess?
      Thanks in advance Roland

    11. Ik kan mijn telefoon (HTC Touch Cruise) met windows mobile 6.1 niet verbinden met mijn pc. Ik heb van alles geprobeerd:
      – WMDC opnieuw geïnstalleerd
      – soft en hard reset op telefoon
      – help stappen op telefoon en op website van microsoft opgevolgd
      Kan het een probleem zijn dat ik mijn telefoon eerst op xp heb gesynchroniseerd en nu op vista probeer? Heeft iemand een idee?

    12. How can i sync the time between the PC and the Mobile Device, so that my WM Device gets the time from the PC? On Active Sync there was an option for this, but not under Sync Center…

    13. Hi,

      As you correctly mention in step 1 ‘you should be notified’. Unfortunately I’m not and I sick and tired of sitting behind my new laptop each night for hours without being able to sync my Palm Treo 500v.

      Can someone please tell me what I’m doing wrong, or better, tell me what I can do to solve my problem (besides throwing everything in the garbage).


    14. Have Verizon SMT 5800 smart phone and am running Vista Home Premium 64 bit on my laptop. I also Outlook 2007. For the life of me the phone and calendar will not sync. I have gone thru most tutorials and uninstalled and reinstalled and still nothing. The only time they will “talk” is when phone is plugged in (usb) and I manually put something in outlook calendar. Then and only then will it go to the phone. The phone appointments will not upload to office and office will not download to phone. Am I missing the boat on this one??

    15. Gonçalo Carvalho

      PARABÉNS! Procurei muito até encontrar este blog. Tenho o Vista Home, um pda com win mobile 6.1 e o outlook 2003. Afinal o “win mobile device center que vem de origem, não sincroniza automaticamente o outlook com o pda! É necessário fazer o download e actualizar o controlador :

    16. Hej! Jag har följt alla instuktioner på den här sidan, men när jag synkar min X1 så ser allt bra ut tills det är klart, detta händer:
      Telefon skärmen: åtgärd krävs (och inget överfördes)
      Outlook 2007: det ända som överfördes från Mobile center var anteckningar.
      (allt som man överför ska hamna i oulook eller hur?)
      Mobile Divice center: Synk klar, anlsluten

      Kort sagt: allt som överfördes till outlook var antekningar.
      Hur kan Jag fixa detta?

    17. il faut arrêter de dire que windows mobile 6 est super sur Vista.
      Avec activsync on pouvait a volonté passer des fichier Word ou excel sur notre mobile. A présent c’est terminé.
      Quant au transfert des fichiers adresses ou calendrier sur Outlook c’est une galère pour supprimer les doublons . Merci Microsoft.

    18. I have an old iPAQ. For years I’ve synced between two computers running XP. I just bought a Vista machine and now have to sync between a computer running XP and one running Vista. I’ve downloaded Windows Mobile Device Center 6.1 for Windows Vista to the Vista machine. The device synced but it changed all my Word documents to pwi documents and all my Excel documents to pxi documents, none which open. How can I simply have the documents remain Word and Excel files?

    19. Programma werkt perfect op een onderdeel na.
      Iemand een idee hoe het komt dat als ik mijn e-mail in wil stellen ik de mappen niet te zien krijg als ik bij stap 14 de betreffende optie aanklik. Krijg alleen ongewenste e-mail en RSS kanalen te zien. Gekke is wel dat hij mail synchroniseerd alleen de verkeerde map ???

    20. I have managed to connect my pocket PC “Samsung Omina i900” with my computer using Vista 32 bit ultimate, but there is an error when sync with Outlook 2007. Any help?


    21. The OS for my PDA device is
      Microsoft Pocket PC
      Version 4.20.1081 (Build 13100)

      Will this setup work with my HP device? It uses ActiveSync 3.7 to sync with Outlook 2003 on my desktop computer. The new laptop OS is Vista.

    22. Same problem as Mattia Filander 12.15.08 at 1:28 am and others. Elements to synchronise (contacts etc) each say ‘Outlook not installed’ when it is. Any workaround yet?

    23. step 2 and 6 are the same!!!every time i double click the windows mobile device center, only the connection setting window will appear, nothing else..T.T
      please help

    24. I have installed Windows Mobile 6.1 and my Vista 64bit PC recognizes the phone as an external drive that I can view through explorer, but will not sync to Outlook. When I clivk on Windows Mobile in the control panel, all I get is a Connection Settings winsow that says “Device connected” and has “All USA connections” and “Allow connections to Bluetooth” checked. When I click OK, the window closes and I don’t get any other options. On my phone it says “Attention required” and indicates that it can’t synchronize with the Outlook profile I am using because a different profile was previously set up or the profile is password protected. I had the phone set up to sync with a different computer, but that computer died. How do I get it to wipe out the old profile and sync with the new computer?

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    26. same problem as Shannon,cannot synch Contact,Email,Calendar,Tasks even with outlook installed…any help will be very much appreciated.

    27. Anyone know why I can’t click on Contact, Email, Calendar, Tasks in WMDC? They are all grayed out. I have vista and have Outlook 2003 and activesync on my Motorola Q. Ugh. Any ideas?

    28. When it worked, it was fine! I just need the calendar to sync appointments and such. It is a pain to put them in the phone and the computer—and remember which appointment is in which place!

    29. My only solution is to keep my Acer Travelmate XP machine to use when this computer, which has Vista Home Premium, had a snit fit about things. I have disabled the crapola Vista Mobile Center as it just doesn’t work.

    30. I had everything working just fine until I had to restore my computer to original settings (reformat). Now, like others, I cannot get the phone to connect. Everything appears to be fine, but when the startup screen come up, it shows not connected. I have uninstalled and re-installed numerous times. Verizon Access Manager works fine—I use the phone to get on line much of the time. I tried to set it up manually as Ben suggested above, but that would not work either. Sure wish somebody would post a suggestion!

    31. This doesn’t work. I have done this over and over, and Vista will not sync my Outlook contacts with my PocketPC, and I have to manually sync AvantGo from my pocketPC while connected to the laptop or by wireless straight to the modem. What is needed is a ‘works with Vista’ ActiveSync.

    32. Isn´t i possiblet sync Windows Mobile contacts with Windows Mail that is included in Vista, or do I need Office? I use OpenOffice and it has no mail. When I try to sync I get th message that “Outlook is not installed”
      Does anyone know anythg about this?

    33. Is there any way to just sync SOME contacts w/ Windows Mobile Device Center? Activesync used to allow it by creating categories for your contacts … but it doesn’t seem to be an option with WMDC.

    34. 1-you can not specify which on should be synch. I mean that if you add some things in the phone how you want to tell to the program mobile is master or PC? which on is prior? that is the defection.
      2- in outlook when you add some items it is not shown in mobile outlook exactly like PC one’s.

    35. Ross,
      No matter what I do, this doesn’t work.” I hit “Mobile device / connection settings / OK” and … nothing. Not connected still appears on window. I have an IPAQ. I HATE VISTA
      Any help would be appreciated.

    36. Dear Ross,

      I have a question about internet surfing using my XDA Atom Life phone which is connected to my laptop through Windows Vista Mobile Device Center. I can sync my phone with my laptop it is connected but the only problem is when I try surfing using the internet explorer in my phone I always get the message “Please make sure that your phone is connected to the internet update failed.” This happens when I try updating my weather forecast and exchange rates in Worldmate. Same thing happens when I try surfing.

      Any idea how to make this work?

      Best regards,


    37. Great information but no troubleshooting…my device is a BJII and Windows Home Prem. The phone chirps when connected but no indication on the phone or computer that it is connected. Trying to connect with Bluetooth connects but no dialogue to allow or initiate syncing. It just sits there connected.


    38. I am running Vista with Mobile Device Manager on my laptop and Windows Mobile 6.1 on my phone. Does anyone know how to get multiple sub contact groups from Microsoft Exchange to sync with with my phone? Windows Mobile Device Center only allows for the Root Contact Group to sync.

    39. yo tengo windows vista starter y no puedo sincronizar mi ipaq con la computadora me podras ayudar con algun programa para poder sincronizar el outlook, contactos musica etc.

    40. Hi Paul

      I didn’t get an answer from anyone but found that if I deleted the partneship and set it up again they reappeared!

      It now works fine again – hope yours does to.

    41. my Calandar and Contacts have suddenly dissapeared from my sync settings??
      How can I get them back, so I can syn with my phone.. ??

    42. Hola, tengo un problema, sigo los pasos que excelentemente escribiste, desafortunadamente al llegar el paso 5 el instalador del WMDC no instala del todo el programa, lo corre pero no me sale ninguna ventana para darle siguiente, ya lo baje varias veces y el resultado es el mismo, agradesco mucho tu ayuda ya que es verdaderamente frustrante tener un pda y no poderlo usar debidamente, espero respuesta

    43. Thanks for the article. All works fine except….I can not select to sync contacts or calendar. All else works fine. I have a windows mobile 5.0 device and my pc runs vista and outlook 2007.

      Help anyone?

    44. My problem is;
      -Mobile Device Settings
      –Change Content Sync Settings
      —Calendar (STEP 15)
      is not available. Therefore I cannot sync calendar items. The rest works fine.
      Any suggestion???

    45. When you sync the contacts from your phone to the PC, (not exchange) but actually save your contacts to “Windows PC” where on the computer do they save… this is Driving me nuts!!!

    46. we’ve had new laptops since april and haven’t had time to figure this out until now. thanks for the helpful info, couldn’t find anything at microsoft!

    47. Belinda Pellegrin

      Thanks for the sync instructions. It doesn’t appear that Windows Mobile Device Center for Windows Vista computers allows you to configure your synchronization for device to PC only or PC to device only. It’s nice that you can choose a time frame for your sync but, it still appears to be a bidirectional sync of both PC and device. I have much more data and information on my PC that I don’t want to sync with my device (phone/pda) and prefer to have the choice of synchronization type (one directional or bi-directional). I’ve had this option before on Windows XP computers and don’t understand why Microsoft removed it on Vista. Anyone have any suggestions?

    48. Thanks for the great article! This is exactly what I needed to get my Dell Axim x50v syncing with Vista.

    49. Just had to join the fan club here and say thanks for posting this. I ran into an even more uncommon “feature”. The install of 6.1 never seemed to work. I had to run setup manually from C:\Windows\WindowsMobile, then I was up an running.

      Thanks again,

    50. Thanks for the article. The problem I have had is that Vista (after attempting an SPI 1 install which did not work) does not recognise the device at all so I can’t go through all the settings you have presented. Any ideas? I assume the drivers are still loaded because I was able to use the device before on vista

    51. The tutorial on top is fine except that contacts in mobile device cannot be synced to my ms outlook 2003.
      I can see the green arrows indicating that syncing happens, but after this if I go into outlook and click the contacts tab, the address book is empty.

      This is totally opposite to how it worked before in my windows xp, there after syncing my device I always see all my contacts in my mobile device synced.

      I have also noticed elesewhere people mention that this contact sync feature is not enabled in the current mobile device center version, is this why i am unbale to sync the contacts?
      In that case atleast I can relax as now I am suspecting something wrong with either my mobile device or my vista laptop.

      This feature is so useful that i dont have to depend on any third party contact backup softwares (PIM back up)to back up all my contacts from my mobile device in my laptop.

      Anybody please advice.


    52. Hello Ross,
      I agree with the readers, this post is indeed a great one.
      I got my PDA setup using your directions; which I couldn’t find in the OS help files.
      Thank you so much

    53. Hi Ross,

      Many thanks for sharing this valuable infomration. I’ve been breaking my head for a few days to figure out how to sync my outlook contacts and then I came across your blog. Once again many thanks for posting this very useful infomration.


    54. If anyone can help me it would be appreciated. I have been thru the steps multiple times and can’t get the device center to recognize my phone. For a while it was saying my name and not connected. I deleted the name and reinstalled Windows Mobile device center (three or four times) hoping to get the name in but it doesn’t go to the “settin up your device” screen–it just skips ahead.

    55. I finally found a program called “OggSync” for my Google Calendar…

      Works like a charm! (Except for the duplicates which Google creates…makes me mad that Google can’t do recurring appts!)

      Does auto sync…

      As far as my Outlook Calendar…I just have to use the Active Sync on my BlackJack II and pray it works…I hold my breath every few days when I have 1 1/2 hours to “waste”…

    56. thanks for the manual how to sync a smartphone with the Windows Mobile Device Center.
      Unfortunately i’m not allowed to install in the office

      does anybody knows another possibility to sync a mobile (outlook calendar and contacts only) with vista?
      thanks in advance

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    58. I spent all day trying to get rid of using Outlook 2003 as a “pass-through” for both my BlackJack II and Blackberry 8200; I got too frustrated with the Windows Device Manager.

      It took forever to start up and it only worked intermittently.

    59. good outline. I found all these things previously and completed them all except …
      Your list at the start says you can link notes but notes is not an option in the elements list. How do you link notes?

    60. Thanks for the article. Key thing to remember is that you have to have Outlook 2003 or better to synchronize with Vista. I was trying to synch with my old Office 2000 suite and was having trouble. This article solved the mystery. Thanks!!

    61. @Lily
      Let me add my thanks. I’ve been going round in circles wondering why I can’t sync and searching microsoft (some hopes!) and elsewhere for some basic straightforward instructions. Thanks for a very clear presentation – exactly what we’ve become used to NOT expecting from Microsoft.

    62. This article is a Godsend. Maybe you can share it with Microsoft so they can publish it in their help system. I wouldn’t have been able to perform this task without it. Thank you!

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    64. I can’t stand microsoft products anymore.. In my opinion Microsoft Office is the only thing that they did well..
      I got impressed by the new mac os x Leopard…And thats why I moved to apple’s OS..
      You should do what this mac ad says: give up on vista!
      Apple FTW!

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