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.


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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.

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, Palm2CSV is only intended to work on Datebook Archive files created by Palm Desktop 4.1.4 or 6.2.2 (Palm Desktop by ACCESS) for Windows or Mac; if you use another version of Palm Desktop to export your data, Palm2CSV may not work. You can download Palm Desktop 6.2 for Windows 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 45,000,000 bytes, and even that is not a precise figure. Anything over 45 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.

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.

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.


Windows 7

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.

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. 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. However, this will just give you a raw dump of the data; date fields will be in a format that is largely unusable without additional computation on your part.


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. Depending on your version of Mac Palm Desktop, you might find the following limitations:


CSV Options

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.

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 change this value on the Palm2CSV conversion page (it's under "iCal/ICS Options"): either input your preferred value (e.g. John Doe), or erase it entirely and it won't appear when you output your iCal/ICS file.


Importing Into Google Calendar

I have successfully converted my Palm Calendar and saved it to my computer but I'm having trouble importing it into Google Calendar.

Here is how to import your converted Palm Calendar file into Google Calendar:

  1. Click the down-arrow to the right of "My Calendars". From the drop-down, click "Create new calendar". On the next screen, name your new calendar and click the "Create Calendar" button.
  2. Click the down-arrow to the right of "Other calendars". From the drop-down, click "Import calendar". For "File", select the converted iCal/ICS (or CSV) file from your hard drive, and for "Calendar", select your newly-created calendar. Then click the "Import" button.

This will import the calendar into a new calendar. If there is something wrong with the new calendar you can always delete it and start again, without affecting your other calendar(s) in Google Calendar.

I'm still having trouble importing into Google Calendar!

Are you getting a Google Calendar error message, or is Google Calendar freezing up? Google Calendar has several restrictions and requirements for both CSV files and iCalendar files. Other common problems importing into Google Calendar could be:

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 or let you do anything with these groups as a whole within Google Calendar. If you want each category to appear in a separate calendar within 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.) Once you've exported these individual calendars, you can import them each into a separate calendar within Google Calendar.

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.

How do I create multiple calendars within Google Calendar and import my calendars into them?

  1. Log in to Google Calendar
  2. Click the down-arrow to the right of "My Calendars"
  3. From the drop-down, click "Create new calendar"
  4. On the next page, enter your new calendar title and click the "Create Calendar" button when you're finished
  5. Once you are back at the main Google Calendar page, click the down-arrow to the right of "Other calendars"
  6. From the drop-down, click "Import calendar"
  7. From the next window, select the calendar file (CSV or iCal/ICS) from your computer you wish to import, and select the Google Calendar you wish to import it into, and then click the "Import" button to begin the import
  8. Repeat the steps above for each calendar you want to create within Google Calendar

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.

Just wanted to let you know that I figured it out, and wanted to give you the tutorial to put on your website, cause your tool for converting .dba to .csv files came in quite handy. You weren't sure what the Outlook settings were, and therefore, don't have those settings set up. Here's what they are:

Column Separator: \t (Tab)
Enclose Fields with: " (quotes)
Terminate Lines with: \r (carriage return)

Repeat Maximum should be set to 1. There's still going to be some really ugly clean-up to do in Outlook, cause once you import them, the repeating events go from the date you made them... till 30 years later. As ONE appointment. This makes sense that it can't import re-acurring events very well, cause even going from Outlook to Outlook, it warns about repeating events possibly not working at all.

Left Repeat End Date blank.

Did not checkmark the supress end date, since it seems that's a Google Calendar only thing.

After converting it, and importing it to Outlook (into a separate calendar that I made in Outlook, which was then blank) there were roughly 19 appointments that were repeating events that I needed to change from lasting 849327 hours, to their original 1 hour (or 30 minutes, or 2 hours, etc). I don't know where it looks in the data file for the time length, but if that was resolved, then it would work perfectly with the settings above + the fix.

After that, I had it imported into Outlook no sweat. iPad sunk up with Outlook (after setting it to do that via iTunes). At first, that calendar doesn't show up in iTunes... So after attempting to sync calendars with the iPad, it actually put a "iPad Calendar" back into my Outlook. So, outsmarting Apple, I just imported the data into THAT calendar, and then renamed it to what I wanted. Bam, done. Funny thing to note: The calendar for the iPad (now my Palm calendar that was imported) looks to be a "sub-calendar" of my default calendar or something... It's still separate, but appears below my default calendar, slightly indented within outlook, leading me to believe that the only way for iTunes to see it at all, is to create a new calendar while the default calendar is selected... thus making it a "sub-calendar" of sorts.

-- Michael Miller

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.

If you are technically inclined, and can tell me why iCalendar is not able to read Palm2CSV's iCal files, I will gladly change Palm2CSV to produce iCal files that iCalendar can read directly.

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.


Repeating Events

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)
Monday, May 17th (1st repeat)
Wednesday, May 19th (2nd repeat)
Monday, May 31st (3rd repeat)

Repeat Maximum

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.


Time Zones

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, such as doctor appointments) 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 (e.g. birthdays and anniversaries, which are associated with a day but not a time). 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).


Limitations

Where did my Euro symbols go?

Euro symbols (€) get replaced with "?" because MDBTools strips them out before Palm2CSV gets to them. Here is why: When you export your Palm Datebook to DBA format, Palm Desktop turns Euro symbols (\x80) into the following byte sequence: \x00\xAC. When MDBTools reads the DBA file before handing it off to Palm2CSV, that \x00\xAC byte sequence gets replace by a question mark ("?"). Sorry, there's nothing I can do about this at the moment.

Why did my notes get truncated?

When you use Palm Desktop to save your Datebook in DBA format, it only saves the first 4096 characters of each note. Notes longer than 4096 characters are truncated. Sorry, this is a limitation of Palm Desktop 4.x. If you install Palm Desktop 6.x, you won't have this limitation.

DBA/TDA file size limit

DBA/TDA files must be less than 45,000,000 bytes. (This is an arbitrary restriction I imposed to keep my server from getting overloaded; it can be lifted at any time, so contact me if that's the error message you're getting.)

Repeating "To Do" events don't repeat

Repeating "To Do" events are only shown once (i.e. not repeated). This will be fixed in an upcoming version. (Repeating Datebook events are supported!)

Timeout when converting many repeating events to CSV format

DBA files containing many repeating events may take too long to convert to CSV format and may time out before they have finished converting. In this case, either specify Repeat Maximum of 1, or convert to iCal format instead.

Palm files must be in ISO-8859-1 (Latin1) format

There might be a way around this; contact me if your Palm file contains characters that are not in ISO-8859-1 format.


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.

To date, thousands of people have used Palm2CSV and found it to be helpful in exporting their Palm data. This project is a hobby and does not pay the bills. I am grateful for donations made by satisfied users, as we well as their patience and feedback which helped me make Palm2CSV as useful as it is. There is no catch! Donations are entirely voluntary.

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.)

Please note that while I take the privacy and security of your data very seriously and make every effort to keep your data safe during the limited time it is on my server, I cannot make any absolute guarantee regarding its safety or security. Also, since you are transmitting it without the benefit of SSL encryption, there is always the (small) chance that a third party could intercept and read your network traffic while it is being transmitted, either to or from the Palm2CSV website.

If you have particularly sensitive data in Palm format that you wish to convert, please email me and we can work out a way for you to send me the data and for me to send you back the converted CSV or iCal/ICS file via a more secure channel.

Can't you just make Palm2CSV available for download so I can install it on my own computer?

This would be a tremendous amount of work, and not something I'm willing to invest my time in. That's because Palm2CSV uses technologies like PHP and MDB Tools that don't lend themselves to being easily encapsulated in a single standalong application. In fact, there's no amount of money you can offer me to do this because it would be so difficult. Sorry!

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.

What features do you plan to add?

Any other features you want to see? Discuss them on the Palm2CSV Facebook page.

Help! I still can't get it to work!

Send me an 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, Krugerrands or buckskin.)