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Force Reminders to Sync

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Force Reminders to Sync

Reminders is Apple’s list management app. This article explains how to force Reminders to sync across devices.

Apple’s simple list management app, Reminders, debuted with iOS 5 on October 12, 2011. Although the app is useful, I ended up learning about its defects far too late. By the time I realized the app had some major issues, I had already accumulated huge lists. Although there are better alternatives, I decided to stick with Reminders and found workarounds to deal with the issues. I kept hoping Reminders would improve over time. Unfortunately, even after 6 years, Apple hasn’t managed to fix critical issues with the software.

Reminders Doesn’t Always Sync Across Devices

Reminders has quite a few defects. Editing lists can be a bit quirky. The actual behavior of the Edit/Done button can be a bit buggy. I can live with these issues, but there are bigger problems. Reminders has a problem syncing across devices.

I found this out the hard way. I created a shopping list on my iPad and went to the supermarket. Arriving at the supermarket, I took my iPhone out and launched Reminders, only to see that the list didn’t sync to my iPhone. My device was connected to the cellular network and was getting a strong signal. I tried restarting my device, to no avail. I ended up having to remember what I had entered into Reminders, which completely defeats the purpose.

Fast forward to the present, and Reminders still has problems syncing. It works about 90% of the time, which is simply unacceptable. I recently experienced another problem with it not syncing. I tried the usual tricks, to no avail. I eventually found yet another way to force it to sync. Let’s take a look at how to force Reminders to sync across devices.

How to Force Reminders to Sync

Forcing Reminders to sync across devices is usually easy, but I haven’t found a silver bullet that always works. Let’s start with what usually works — editing the list on the target device.

The target device is the one you wish to sync to. The source device is the one where you created the list. You can usually force Reminders to sync by editing the list on the target device. This works best if the list is one you reuse all the time. For example, I reuse the same list for shopping. That way, I can look at completed items to make sure I am not forgetting anything I usually buy at the store. Edit the un-synced list by tapping on an empty field and entering a character. Next, tap Done on the top right. You should see the network “wheel” spinning on the top left of your iOS device. At this point, the list should sync up with the source device. You can now delete the extra item you added by swiping left on it and tapping Delete.

Editing the list on the target device, by adding an extra item, works for me most of the time. Just recently, this trick didn’t work. I tried editing the list in the same way on the source device, which initiated proper syncing. Of course, this doesn’t help if you created the list on your iPad at home, and you are away from home with your iPhone. There are a few more things you can try.

A soft reset will often fix syncing problems with Reminders. A soft reset is slightly different from simply restarting your iPhone. A restart is akin to putting a computer into sleep mode, even though your phone is turned off. A soft reset is similar to powering down a computer and booting it up again. The memory is flushed clean, but your personal data is not deleted. You can do a hard reset on your iPhone by holding the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons down, simultaneously, for about 10 seconds. When you see the Apple logo, release both buttons. If you have an iPhone 7, hold down the sleep/wake button and down volume button simultaneously, until you see the Apple logo.

Reminders syncs across devices using iCloud. Ensure that iCloud is activated for Reminders on your source and target devices. Simply tap on Settings > iCloud and review the activated services, ensuring that Reminders is turned on. (continue…)

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