Is Plaxo on OSX any good? Or, indeed, any use?

For ages I’ve been plagued by people who send (via Plaxo) those annoying emails saying “Please update your information…”, which has always had the added sting in the tail that it said “Join Plaxo now!” – while the program was resolutely Windows-only.

Plaxo, in case you’ve somehow escaped its curse-at-secondhand, is a sort of address book system that works both online and off. I think. It also seems to want to be social software (“Join Dan’s Plaxo network!”). Mostly I’d thought it only one step away from spam.

Now however I notice that there’s a Mac version which enthuses

The Plaxo Toolbar for Mac synchronizes your Mac OS X Address Book with your Plaxo Universal Address Book. Wherever you install a Plaxo toolbar, your address book will be consistent and stay up-to-date automatically. You can also access your address book on the web through Plaxo Online.

Err.. OK, except that (1) I sync the contacts I need with my mobile phone – far more likely to have my mobile phone with me than to have access to a computer yet not have my mobile. (If I were determined enough I could get the two to synch regularly through a cron job.) (2) if you pay for .Mac, as I do, then you can put your address book online already. (Though equally, why not just export it as a CSV file or HTML table and upload it to a password-protected page on a site you own or use? Hmm?)

What I’m saying is, I don’t get the point of Plaxo on the Mac. Can anyone enlighten me, or are my prejudices on this correct?

7 Comments

  1. Right now, I’m using it to sync my contacts between my office PC and my home Mac.

    Other than that? Not much use at all.

  2. Charles – I guess the answer depends on your perspective. Plaxo for Mac, in itself, may not be compelling for some. But users with both a Mac and PC can use Plaxo to sync a single AB between different platforms. You can also sync the same AB automatically to Yahoo and AIM as well, and access your Plaxo AB through your WAP phone. As for those update request emails, hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot less of those in the future (http://blog.plaxo.com/archives/2006/03/an_apology.html).

  3. Plaxo is the only way for Mac Thunderbird users to keep their address books in sync between computers, and between Thunderbird’s internal Address Book and OS X’s Address Book app. And it’s cross-platform, and well, if it’s synching to OS X’s Address Book, and you synch that with your phone, then you’ve got everything synched up everywhere, right? In theory anyway, eh?

  4. David Florida...no relation to Mark

    Friday 7 April 2006 at 5:16 pm

    It’s nice when your friends use it too because when they update their info, you and everyone else they are friends with on Plaxo always have the latest info. In that sense it’s especially useful for keeping-up with people I don’t keep in-touch with closely. That, and as I’m not a Mac user, I spent too many years of absolute pounding headache frustrations with Outlook express AB backup/restoration/synching. Also, I have a RAZR phone and I have to say that not only do I find that a cumbersome and slow way to manage an AB, but MOST of the contacts I have in my computer AB, I have absolutely no use for on my phone and would hate to have to scroll even more than I already do. Well, those are just the things that come to mind given 5 minutes of my time… but, maybe it’s just me.

  5. The comment above by Stacy Martin, from Plaxo, appears to confirm the general uselessness of Plaxo for people with one computer (most). Plaxo really predates +real+ social software which is potentially more useful and will probably introduce Plaxo features (allow other people to update their details inside your address book without you having to type anything).

  6. Mike, I’m going to have to disagree with you. Plaxo is just as useful for those who have only one computer, or I should say differently useful. One really nice thing about synching with Plaxo via the web is that you then have access to, and can update, your address book using the web. Great for when you’re not at your own computer, or don’t have your phone/PDA handy.

    I searched a LONG LONG time for an application to enable synching between my work PC and home Mac, and I have finally found it in Plaxo. To boot, it’s an extra backup copy of my contacts that should in all likelihood survive just about anything. For my business (attorney), my contacts are everything.

  7. Hi Charles, Plaxo can be handy. Like email itself, its the way its used that is the problem not the product per se. The beta version is buggy and slow. It also had the side effect of stopping my mac from recognising my ipod nano.

    Then it is a beta product, I’ll wait until they get it closer to gold master.

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