How can I use PalmOS with 64-bit Windows versions?

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Answered by: Andrew, An Expert in the Tips and Tools Category
Recently, it has become popular to use old PalmOS devices in the same way it has become popular to play retro computer and video games. One problem that comes up for the modern user is how to synchronize your PalmOS with 64-bit Windows computers. At first glance many people expect this can't be done, but in truth it's simple to do.

First, determine what connection methods your PalmOS device supports. The most important thing to check is the wired connection method from your dock or standalone cable. Most older devices only support 9-pin serial port connections, while most later devices use a normal USB connection. If your device only supports serial for the wired connection, you will likely need a serial-to-USB convertor for your computer. If it's USB, you're all set.

Some Palm devices additionally support synchronization over an infrared port or TCP/IP networking. Infrared sync will require your computer be equipped with a standard IrDA port which is very rare on modern hardware, and hard to add. TCP/IP networking will usually require a PalmOS device with built in WiFi or with an addon device that provides WiFi or Ethernet support.

Next, it's time to get the latest Palm Desktop software, which is currently Palm Desktop 6.2. One reliable host for 6.2 is which is hosted by a developer that continues to support older PalmOS software. This is a version of Palm Desktop created after Palm sold off the rights to the software to an outside developer. The installer will include the proper drivers to use any device with PalmOS with 64-bit Windows computers, like most Windows 7, 8 and 10 installs. Follow the installation instructions within the application, and make sure to create a PalmOS "user" within the Palm Desktop to prepare for first sync.

You will now be ready to connect your PalmOS device if you have a compatible connection method.

If your device only supports a serial connection, enter Windows Device Manager in your computer's Control Panel to find what COM port is assigned to your serial-to-USB device or serial port card. You will need to know this COM port number, such as COM2, when you set up HotSync on your computer. If your device supports USB, you will not need to do this step.

If you plan to sync with infrared, you do not need to do anything special right now other than ensuring your IrDA port is properly installed and configured for use with the system. If you plan to try TCP/IP networking, ensure that the PalmOS device has been connected to your local network successfully.

Now, open the HotSync Manager application. You will see an option on the left hand pane that says "Connections". Here, select every connection method your device supports. For most users this will just be USB or Serial, but owners of some later devices will also select Network. Remember that you should not enable USB for a serial-only PalmOS device that is connected to a serial-to-USB convertor. If you need to use serial, enter the correct COM port number in the input area that will appear below the connections list, to ensure HotSync can find your device. If the program puts up an error, double-check that you have connected all cables properly.

You should now test your configuration by selecting HotSync on your PalmOS device while properly connected. You may be asked to confirm that you want to add the username from Palm Desktop to your PalmOS device. Once this process successfully completes, you are now ready to use PalmOS devices with 64-bit Windows!

From this point on, you'll be able to transfer files, install or uninstall applications from the Web and sold in thrift stores on CD or disk, and synchronize to things like Outlook calendars. It will work just as well as syncing your PalmOS device did on the 90s and early 2000s computers they were meant for.

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