Sunday, February 1, 1998

Third party applications and your PalmPilot


By Calvin O. Parker

Ok, you've got your brand new PalmPilot and you've done your homework. You know that there are add-on applications (quite a few, actually) and you'd like to install a few of them on your machine. Looking through the supplied manual, you see that Chapter 11 even talks about Installing Applications. But, what if you want to install more than one application at a time? And, once the application is installed, then what? If the application has some sort of data, is that data backed up? Hopefully, when you're done reading this article the answer to these questions and more will be clear to you.

Installing applications

The INSTAPP application that comes with each PalmPilot appears to install PalmPilot applications. However, it only allows you to install one application at a time, right? What if you have a handful of applications that you'd like to install? Let's take a look at several ways to do this.

INSTAPP doesn't actually install the application onto your PalmPilot. The HotSync process does the actual installation, with INSTAPP (called InstallApp on the Macintosh) simply setting things up. When you "install" an application using INSTAPP, two things happen:

  1. A flag is set that tells the HotSync process there are applications to install.
  2. The application is copied to a directory where the HotSync process will look when it realizes it should be installing applications.

Actually, if the HotSync process realizes its supposed to install applications, it will install ALL applications that reside in this directory. What does this mean? Well, if you've run INSTAPP once, you can then copy any and all applications to that directory, without having to actually run the INSTAPP program for each one! This could either be done manually, or via the "Send To" Menu (for those using Windows 95).

Of course, a better way to install multiple applications at once is to use one of the many applications that have been written that allow you to do this. I could probably write an entire article listing these and comparing them (and in a future article I probably will). For a list of these applications and brief descriptions, see the Installing Applications question of my FAQ ( For the extremely curious, I use Mark Pierce's PInstall, a Windows 95 application that allows you to double-click on a .prc or .pdb file to install it. Using PInstall in conjunction with the "Send To" allows installation of multiple applications with ease.