Using a 4th generation iPod Touch as a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant)


(You can skip this by scrolling down to the iPod Touch Photo if you want to just hear how it worked from moving my Palm Data > iPod Touch)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been enamoured with PDAs.

There is something about organizing your life into one little device that is so sexy. I had used a paper organizer for a while and hated that I couldn’t erase my mistakes without whiteout or using a pencil, and it wasn’t easy to find things if I had hastily scribbled it down somewhere. Paper. Ick.

(Not the exact one I wanted, but close!)

I think it all started when I was 7 and I desperately wanted this (then) beautiful pink PDA/organizer for children that I think had Contacts, Calendar and possibly a Calculator. I obsessed over it, touching it in the store, reading the back of the package as much as I could. It was the HOLY GRAIL of products for me.

(Yes, I can see that my obsession with electronics started right around this time.)

But what my 7-year-old-self needed a PDA for, is totally beyond my comprehension today.

Luckily, it was also beyond my dad’s comprehension as well, because upon seeing the $100 pricetag for such a toy, he firmly put his foot down.

I cried for 3 weeks until my brother consoled me and explained why $100 was a lot of money, and said that it was something I wouldn’t want to keep forever. He was so right!

It was on that day I vowed to start saving for my precious pink PDA and I got a paper route job.

Two years later, I had enough money, but by that time, upon witnessing my resolve to get that damn pink PDA, my brother handed me his old Palm PDA, trusting that I would have no tech skills to hack into deleted Memos or Contacts, and to avoid seeing any hard earned money of mine wasted on a toy.

It was that day that my love affair with Palm was born. Throughout the years, I used a variety of Palm products, from the coloured-screen Palm that someone *cough* notmebutsomeoneiwasdatingatthetime *cough* spilled water all over it and made it fizzle in the most unpleasant way.

I had backed up my data (luckily), but I was still annoyed. I had to shell out for another PDA. Then that one got stolen. ARG!!!

I think I owned about 5 Palms since my 9-year-old days, and my latest acquisition was the Palm T|X, but they had mangled improved the software so much trying to be clever that I couldn’t use it in the same way I could with my old Palms.

  • The handwriting had changed completely to be so much more difficult, and I couldn’t “write” normally without screwing up
  • The screen was starting to go, unresponsive with dead spots
  • It’s heavy. I know it’s just a couple more ounces than the iPod Touch, but it makes a big difference!
  • I was starting to experience a lot of problems with synching to their “new and improved” desktop software
  • …. I wanted something prettier. 😛 Isn’t that the best reason ever?


Read about my initial decision to switch from my Palm T|X PDA to an iPod Touch.


  • Really, really loathe keeping my data online and not just on a device or backed up on a hard drive
  • ……this rules out EverNote, Google Documents and DropBox
  • Don’t want to use the internet on this small screen (this is why I have so many laptops!)
  • Don’t need GPS functionality (I have a GPS specific for this task)
  • Don’t need telephone functionality (I already have a specific, simple cellphone for this task)
  • Don’t play games on my phone, let alone my computer (not often anyway)

So what’s the verdict? Long story short, I think it does the job, but it has a bit of a ways to go to meet my Palm standards but I am thrilled with the replacement.


  • It’s small, sleek and light
  • Screen is responsive with the lightest touch, big & pretty
  • I love the finger swipe thing, and am getting used to the keyboard
  • The availability of applications is insane
  • It just bloody works because it’s so simple
  • Did I mention it’s pretty?


  • Having to buy a darn rubber case for it and a screen protector (cha-ching!)
  • It is too simple — I’d like their FREE and standard apps to be a bit smarter
  • App store seems to mostly be geared towards games and fun things I’ll never use
  • There is no corresponding desktop software for certain apps (Awesome Notes for example)

The loves outweigh the hates for me.

So how did the transition from Palm to iPod Touch go?

Not bloody well, I’m afraid. Transferring data over from your Palm to your iPod Touch is an uphill struggle.


This one was simple, I didn’t have many, so I just keyed them in.


Also simple, I keep track of mostly birthdays and appointments, so I keyed them in.


I didn’t have any handwritten notes.


I’ve heard these two methods being employed:

1) For PC Users
Export your Contacts as (.csv) files
Load them into Microsoft Outlook
Sync with your Apple Contacts

2) For Mac Users
Sync your Palm Contacts on a Macbook with the Palm Desktop Software
Sync them with your Apple Contacts

I opted for Option #2, seeing as I own a MacBook.


Fuggedaboutit. (“Forget about it”)

Seriously? This will never happen.

There is no easy and simple, painless way unless you want to fork over $40, which I AM NOT WILLING TO DO.

The only way I’ve found it to work is simply to just re-key in all of my notes that are data-sensitive.

For my other memos (recipes and so on), I throw them into Google Documents, sync it up to my $4-paid-for-Awesome Notes app on my iPod Touch, and delete the information off Google Documents. (You can also do this with EverNote with the Awesome Notes app)

(Awesome Notes. LOVE!)


I’m not keen on downloading anything and having to pay for it, especially if it’s a game or something, so I tend to play in the “FREE APPS” arena, unless an application really catches my interest like AwesomeNotes.

I also reviewed SimpleNotes, Things and other “omg this is so awesome” applications, but they just didn’t appeal to me for a variety of reasons.


Well worth it. Review about the Awesome Notes application here!


I use this to download and read free books from Gutenberg and so on. So far, I’m liking it for a quick read here and there, but I can’t seem to locate the books I want to read, and to be able to back them up somehow without losing them. I don’t know about this yet.


Not that I’ll use it much but it’s a neat application to have just in case wifi is available and I want to pester my siblings.


I have both, and they seem okay if you want to quickly figure out tip without doing any math.


I like knowing the exchange rates between USD and CAD


I don’t know what the full name of it is, but it converts from Area, Distance, Energy, Information Storage, Power, Pressure, Speed, Temperature, Time, Volume, and Weight. Very handy if you are dealing with ounces into grams or whatever else you might come across.

About the Author

I'm a 20-something year old girl who lived out of a single suitcase in 2007, and now I'm living with less, but only with the best. You don't have to get rid of everything to become a minimalist! Minimalism can help simplify and organize your life, career, & physical surroundings. You can read more about me as a minimalist. Or come and visit my other blog Fabulously Broke in the City where I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, earning $65,000 gross/year.