Palm2CSV / Palm2iCal
Help! Frequently Asked Questions About Palm2CSV
Please note that Palm2CSV is a free service and is provided without warranty of any kind. While I do everything possible to help people who are having trouble, I cannot guarantee that I will be able to solve your problem.
For additional help from the Palm2CSV community, you can discuss your issue on the official Palm2CSV Facebook page.
Palm2CSV Configuration and Error Messages
I got an error message that said something about not liking my file in Calendar Archive format and that I should use Datebook Archive format but I swear I exported my Palm data in Datebook Archive format. What's up with that?
Are you SURE you specified Datebook Archive format? Both Calendar Archive and Datebook Archive format use the same .dba extension, so you can't go by the extension alone. Also, this is only guaranteed to work on Datebook Archive files created by Palm Desktop 4.1.4 for Windows; if you use another version of Palm Desktop to export your data, Palm2CSV may not work. You can download Palm Desktop here.
After I clicked the "Convert Now" button it seemed like it was working but at the end it brought me back to the "Convert Now" page and I didn't see my converted file anyhere. What happened?
This is most likely because your Palm file is too large for my shared host. DBA/TDA files must be less than 30,000,000 bytes, and even that is not a precise figure. Anything over 30 MB will be problematic. If this happens, email me and I will convert your file locally and send it back to you.
It is also possible you are attempting to convert a file to CSV format that contains an inordinate number of repeating events, which is causing the server to time out before the file has been fully converted. The simplest solution is to either convert to iCal format instead, or change Repeat Maximum to 1.
It seems to have converted my Palm Calendar properly but it also included a bunch of strange events from 1969, 1970 or 1971. Their descriptions are only one letter long. What's up with that?
There seems to be a bug with either the Palm Desktop (4.x) or handheld which causes these events to appear in your calendar. In any case they are not caused by Palm2CSV. If you hunt around for that date in your Palm Desktop you should be able to find those rogue events.
I suspect that my DBA or TDA file was not completely converted. How do I know whether my entire file was converted successfully?
Unfortunately, large DBA and TDA files cause problems for my shared hosting account, which terminates PHP processes that run too long. If the last line of your resulting CSV begins, "Thanks for using Palm2CSV!" then your file has converted completely. If the last line does not begin with that phrase, then it was interrupted in the middle of conversion and is most likely incomplete. Contact me if this happens and I will make arrangements to convert your file manually.
After I fill out all the info on the Convert page and click the "Convert >>" button to begin the conversion process, nothing happens for a minute and then I get a blank screen. What does that mean?
Unfortunately, large DBA and TDA files cause problems for my shared hosting account, which terminates PHP processes that run too long. If your DBA or TDA file is too large, Palm2CSV can't finish processing it before it allotted time runs out and you may get nothing back. Contact me if this happens and I will make arrangements to convert your file manually.
I'm using Windows 7 but Palm Desktop does not run on Windows 7 so I am unable to export my Datebook or To Do for Palm2CSV to convert.
Palm Desktop is not officially supported on Windows 7. However, it can still be done. You might find this page useful for getting Palm Desktop to run under Windows 7, possibly under Windows 7's XP mode.
Palm Desktop 6.x (Palm Desktop by ACCESS)
I'm using Palm Desktop 6.x (Palm Desktop by ACCESS). What does this mean for me?
Can I downgrade from Palm Desktop 6.x to 4.x in order to take full advantage of Palm2CSV?
Probably not; Palm Desktop 6.x stores its data files in MS SQL Server format (i.e. a Jet DB), which is vastly different (and not backward-compatible) with Palm Desktop 4.x. For now, you'll have to either be happy with Palm2CSV's limited support of Palm Desktop 6.x, or wait until I improve it further to fully support Palm Desktop 6.x.
What is MDB Tools and which version of MDB Tools should I specify for the Advanced Options?
MDB Tools is a third-party utility used by Palm2CSV. Currently two versions of MDB Tools are available: Version 0.5 and Version 0.6 (pre-release). Palm2CSV defaults to Version 0.6 (pre-release), which is the latest version. However, if you find that Palm2CSV either gives you an error message indicating a problem with MDB Tools, or if your CSV file is corrupted, you might want to try specifying the other version of MDB Tools. Consider this a last-ditch, Hail Mary shot in the dark! If all else fails, see the directions below for reading your TDA/DBA file directly into Microsoft Excel:
Palm2CSV gave me an error that said "MDB Tools error: segmentation fault." What can I do about this?
This indicates that MDB Tools was unable to read your DBA/TDA file. There's nothing I can do about this until the MDB Tools programmers release an updated version, although you do have the ability to specify which version of MDB Tools Palm2CSV uses (see the "Advanced Options" at the bottom of the Convert Now page). If Palm2CSV still has trouble converting your DBA/TDA file because of errors with MDB Tools, and if you have Microsoft Excel and are running under Microsoft Windows, you can follow these directions to import your DBA file (which is really a Microsoft Access / Jet DB file) directly into Excel, bypassing Palm2CSV entirely.
Mac OS / Palm Desktop for Mac
I have Palm Desktop for Mac. Will Palm2CSV work with these files?
Palm2CSV does support DBA/TDA files saved fro the Mac Palm Desktop, although I have had limited opportunity to test it. You may find the following limitations:
How are the different CSV options used?
CSV options let you specify how the output CSV file(s) are formatted. Note that CSV options are used only when converting to CSV format; they are ignored when you are converting to iCal format.
CSV File Info
What determines the order in which events show up in the CSV file?
They are shown in the natural order that they are stored in your DBA file. Assuming you opted to let Palm2CSV expand repeated events, it will show each instance of the repeated event before it continues with the next event in the DBA file. As a result, the individual events in your CSV file may not be in chronological order.
Can I sort the CSV file?
Palm2CSV won't sort the file for you but you can sort the file by any criteria using something like Excel. If you want to be able to import your CSV file into another application, make sure you retain the header row on top (and save in CSV format, not XLS format).
I used the Enclose Fields With " (Quote) option but the fields in the CSV file output by Palm2CSV don't have quotes around them. Why not?
Palm2CSV only puts quotes around fields that contain commas or other characters which need to be quoted; fields that don't contain such characters don't need quotes around them in order to conform to CSV format. For more information see the Wikipedia CSV page.
My Palm Datebook contains foreign and/or accented characters, and when I view the converted CSV in Excel they show up fine but when I save the CSV file from Excel the accented characters disappear when I import the CSV file into Google Calendar or Outlook.
Excel saves CSV files with ANSI encoding. For your accented characters to show properly when importing into Google Calendar or Outook, you must save the CSV file with UTF-8 encoding. After you have made all your edits to the CSV file in Excel and have saved the CSV file, close Excel and open the CSV file in Notepad (notepad.exe). From Notepad, select File -> Save As and select "UTF-8" from the Encoding drop-down.
It seems to have converted my Datebook to CSV but the Location column is blank! Where did all my event locations go?
Unfortunately, when you export your Palm Calendar to Datebook Archive format, the Location field is not exported; the end result is that there simply aren't any locations listed in the Datebook Archive file for Palm2CSV to read. This is a limitation of the Palm Desktop's export feature, not a bug in Palm2CSV.
Why does the Organizer column say "Palm2CSV" instead of my name?
Palm Datebook Archive files don't contain your name and Palm Datebook events don't contain an "Organizer" field so Palm2CSV doesn't know your name. Since most calendar programs require (or at least have the option to include) an "Organizer" field when importing your CSV or iCal/ICS file, Palm2CSV defaults to listing the organizer of all events as "Palm2CSV" as a placeholder. You can always edit the CSV or iCal/CSV file and change this to any name you like, before importing it into your favorite calendar program.
Importing Into Google Calendar
I have successfully converted my Palm Calendar but I'm having trouble importing it into Google Calendar.
How do I get my Palm categories into Google Calendar?
Palm2CSV will output the "Category" information for each event. This category information will get imported into Google Calendar. However, it will not create separate Google Calendars. If you want each category to appear in a separate Google Calendar, the easiest way is to use Palm2CSV's feature to export events from individual categories. This lets you create multiple individual CSV or iCal/ICS files, each containing the events from a given Palm category. The only requirement is that you need to know the names of each of your Palm categories.
If you convert your entire Palm Datebook and then want to split out events into separate categories after the fact, you would have to use a text editor and separate out each event individually from the resulting CSV or iCal/ICS file. This is not recommended, since it requires knowledge of CSV and iCal/ICS file formats.
Importing Into Outlook
I have successfully converted my Palm Calendar to CSV but I'm having trouble importing it into Outlook.
Outlook has a specific set of requirements, and from what I can tell they vary depending on what version of Outlook you are using. At least one person has successfully imported a CSV file from Palm2CSV into Outlook so I know it's possible. Here are the directions he provided:
I recently have been given the task of importing an Outlook calendar, and a Palm Desktop calendar, into... an iPad. All while keeping the two separate, since the two calendars are not to be mixed.
I have successfully converted my Palm To Do (tasks) to iCal format but I'm having trouble importing the .ics file into Outlook. When I import it, the items end up in Outlook's calendar, not the Tasks.
Outlook can not import iCal files that contain "to do" items ("VTODO components" as they are known). That is why Palm2CSV produces an iCal file that contains calendar items ("VEVENT components"). While Outlook can read those files, it automatically imports them into the calendar, not the tasks. I recommend you complain to Microsoft about this glaring omission.
iCal Format and Importing Into iCalendar
My Palm Datebook contains foreign and/or accented characters, but when I import the iCal file the accented characters were messed up. How can I fix this?
For your accented characters to show properly you must save the iCal file with UTF-8 encoding. If you're using Windows you can open the iCal in Notepad (notepad.exe), then select File -> Save As and select "UTF-8" from the Encoding drop-down.
How do I import my Palm file into iCalendar?
For reasons unknown to me, the iCalendar application is not able to read iCal files produced by Palm2CSV. However, there IS a way to import your iCal file into iCalendar! The solution is to first import your iCal file into Google Calendar, then export it from Google Calendar (again in iCal format), and finally import that Google iCal file into iCalendar.
How is Palm2CSV's support for iCal format different from CSV format?
Palm2CSV can convert your Palm file to either CSV or iCal format. The main difference is that when you convert to CSV format, repeating events are converted into multiple one-time events. When you convert to iCal format, repeating events retain their repeat attributes. In practical terms, this means your CSV file will contain a series of one-time events which represent your single repeated event, but you won't be able to (easily) manipulate them as a group. With your iCal file, you will continue to be able to manipulate those events as a group. Here is an example:
If your Palm Datebook contains the following event
Monday, 5/16/2011: Oil change. Repeat every 3 months by date (i.e. the 16th of every 3rd month) until 2012.
Palm2CSV will output the following events in CSV format:
5/16/2011, Oil change 8/16/2011, Oil change 11/16/2011, Oil change
In the above example, you will end up with three independent events which effectively simulate a single repeated event. The difference is that when you import them into your calendar program (Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, iCal, Outlook, etc.) they will be considered separate events, and you won't be able to edit them as a group (e.g. change them from the 16th of the month until the 20th of the month); you will have to edit each of the events separately. This is obviously a drawback to CSV format, and a good reason why iCal format is more desirable:
Palm2CSV will output the following event in iCal format:
Monday, 5/16/2011: Oil change. Repeat every 3 months by date (i.e. the 16th of every 3rd month) until 2012.
In reality the output will be in actual iCal format; this is just a simplified example to indicate that when you output to iCal format, repeated events retain their repeat attributes and can be manipulated as a group. This is clearly more desirable than CSV format.
How do I get my Palm datebook into iCal format?
Palm2CSV can convert your Palm Datebook directly to iCal format. Just select Output Format "iCal" on the converstion options. Or, if you use Palm2CSV to convert your calendar to CSV and import it into Google Calendar (although I don't know why you would want to do it that way), Google gives you the option of downloading your calendar in iCal format. Please see this page for more information.
How do I use the options for repeating events?
By default, your repeating events will be repeated according to how you set them up in your Palm Calendar. For example, if you have an event that starts on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010, repeats every 2 weeks on Monday and Wednesday, and ends on Tuesday, June 1st, the output CSV will contain the following:
Wednesday, May 5th (the original event)
If you only want to see the first instance of each repeated event (i.e. the original event itself, with none of its repeats), change the Repeat Maximum to 1. To see a maximum of, say, 5 repetitions for each repeating event, change Repeat Maximum to 5.
Repeat Start Date and Repeat End Date
These options can be used to restrict which events are converted. Note that the "Repeat" part of the name is somewhat misleading; these options apply to both repeating and non-repeating events! If you leave these options blank, all events will be displayed. If you specify a Repeat Start Date, only events on or after that date will be displayed (events before that date will be ignored). If you specify a Repeat End Date, only events on or before that date will be displayed (events after that date will be ignored).
Note that if you use the default Palm2CSV settings to produce a file compatible with Google Calendar, Palm2CSV automatically sets Repeat End Date to December 31 of the current year. You can override this if you wish.
Note that due to technical restrictions, events can't repeat past the year 2032.
Note that events are output in the same order they are encountered in your DBA file, which happens to be chronological order. However, because every event and its "repeats" will be grouped together, that means the next distinct event will very likely be out of order from the previous event's repeats. If you want your entire file to be in chronological order you'll have to sort the CSV file yourself. This is pretty easy if you're using something like Excel.
What is the difference between "timed" and "untimed" events and why do I need to know this?
Events in the Palm Calendar can either be timed or untimed. "Timed" events are associated with a particular time of day (e.g. 10:00 - 11:00 am). "Untimed" events have no time of day, and are sometimes called all-day events. For example, events such as a birthday or holiday are usually entered into the calendar as untimed.
This distinction is necessary to understand if you need to alter the time zone options (see below).
What's the difference between the Adjust Times By and Time Zone options?
The Adjust Times By option lets you adjust timed events (i.e. events which are associated with a particular time) forward or backward.
The Time Zone option lets you tell Palm2CSV what time zone your Palm Datebook resides in, so that it can determine where midnight is when converting untimed events. If your untimed events are showing up on the wrong day, you need to change Palm2CSV's Time Zone setting.
My untimed events (e.g. birthdays) are showing up a day early or a day late!
You have told Palm2CSV the incorrect time zone that your calendar resides in. Palm2CSV needs to know how many hours to offset untimed events when converting them. You should look at Palm2CSV's Time Zone option (see above).
Miscellaneous Questions: About Palm2CSV
Who created Palm2CSV and is it really free? What's the catch?
Palm2CSV was written by me, Kim Moser, an independent software consultant. I have been using Palm Pilots for years and in fact I still use a Palm Tungsten E. I got the idea to write Palm2CSV when I realied there was no simple way to export my Palm Datebook into a more accessible format. I have decided to make the Palm2CSV web service available free of charge since my priority is to help out the Palm user community rather than simply make money off this project.
Is my data safe? How do I know it won't be misused?
Files uploaded to Palm2CSV are deleted from the web server nightly and the data they contain are not used for any purpose except for converting your file to CSV or iCal format. Occasionally I will spot-check files that did not convert properly, to see if it was a result of a bug in Palm2CSV, but in general the vast majority of files are never seen by anybody and get deleted from my web server automatically several hours after conversion. (Trust me, I have no interest in looking through the contents of random strangers' calendars and to-do lists.)
Are there any limitations?
Current known limitations:
This is great but how can I convert my other Palm databases (Contacts, Memos, etc.) to CSV format?
You don't need Palm2CSV to do that. Palm Desktop 4.1.4 for Windows (and probably others) includes the ability to export Contacts and Memos in CSV, TSV and VCF formats. If you want to export those files and you don't already have a version of Palm Desktop that support exporting, you can download Palm Desktop. For help on exporting your contacts to VCF format, see this site.
What features do you plan to add?
Any other features you want to see? Discuss them on the Palm2CSV Facebook discussion board.
Help! I still can't get it to work!
Send me an e-mail and I'll do what I can to help you.
How did you do this?
I researched the Palm file format online and wrote a PHP program to parse Palm datebook files. Thanks also to the folks who wrote MDB Tools, which allowed me to parse files in MS SQL Server format. This is the format used by Palm Desktop 6.2 (Palm Desktop by ACCESS).
I found this so useful that I'd like to pay you something for your efforts.
Thanks! I have spent quite a bit of time making Palm2CSV helpful and easy to use, and donations of any amount are welcome. See this page for more information on donating via Paypal. (If you prefer not to use Paypal but still wish to donate, contact me about donating via other methods, including but not limited to check, money order, or buckskin.)
Palm2CSV is Copyright © 2013 by Kim Moser e-mail
Palm2CSV is not affiliated with Palm, 3Com, or HP