Monday, November 20, 2006

Getting Your Cell Phone Under Control Using BitPim

I had some issues with managing my cell phone.  I had dozens of work contacts that I wanted to import instead of using the keypad to manually enter them.  Also, I had dozens of pictures that I had taken with my phone's camera that I wanted to easily organize and transfer without being charged.  After some research, I found the Mobile Action USB Data Suite - a USB cable, drivers, and syncing software for around $20.  However, I felt the included software was too bloated and limiting.  I installed only the drivers and turned to Google, where I found BitPim.

To quote

is a program that allows you to view and manipulate data on many CDMA phones from LG, Samsung, Sanyo and other manufacturers. This includes the PhoneBook, Calendar, WallPapers, RingTones (functionality varies by phone) and the Filesystem for most Qualcomm CDMA chipset based phones.


The ability to import contacts was what initially brought me to BitPim.  I synchronized the existing contacts from the phone, converted a Excel spreadsheet of contacts into a CSV, and used BitPim's import function.  After some categorizing and tweaking, I transferred the new list with my phone.  I checked, and everything was there as I wanted!  I saved myself from some very tedious data entry.  BitPim's import also supports a variety of different sources for contacts and calendars, including Outlook, Google Calendar, iCalendar, and more.


I wanted to organize the images I had taken with the phone's camera.  Under Media, you can see thumbnails or a detailed list of the images.  I renamed the images and even added some from my computer to use as wallpaper, which BitPim resized automatically.  A quick sync, and now my images were under control.

When importing or exporting, the pictures taken with the camera were under "Wallpaper", even though they're listed under Media - images in the tree view.  Also, if you rename or upload an image, make sure it has the proper file extension (eg .JPG) - my LG-VX5200 will reset when it tries to display an image without the extension.

Ring Tones and Sounds

Many people have custom ring tones... why can't I?  However, I'm cheap and I like to do things myself.  I edit a short sound clip, saved it as a .WAV file, and dragged it into the ringers panel.  BitPim automatically converted the file to MP3 upon import.  One sync later, and I now have a four bar section of "The Gonk" as my ringtone.

Other Functions

The Memo and Todo functionality worked without issue.  Data entry using a computer's keyboard is much faster than using a phone's keypad, which saves time and frustration.  I did not use the Calendar function because we use Meeting Maker, a proprietary format that is notoriously inflexible and nigh-impossible to export.


I feel that BitPim is an excellent, mature program for managing cell phones; it has the functionality and versatility that I needed without the bloat.  The emphasis in this program seems to be function over form; the graphics and layout are bland and cluttered, but it works beautifully.  Best of all, it's open source and free (GPL).  To see if your phone is supported, check their matrix of supported phones and features.

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