I avoid using the cloud for my personal information, with the exception of gmail for email and incoming/outgoing calendar meetings/appointments. Hoping someone can recommend a replacement app for such a setup.

Current setup & usage

  • The iPhone never syncs email, calendar, contacts, or notes over the cloud

  • For email, I use gmail's webmail from the iPhone and laptop

  • Outlook on my laptop acts as grand central for calendar, contacts and notes

  • The Outlook account for the grand central is a local account, i.e., not an Exchange server account, so all the data resides locally in a *.pst file

  • Incoming/outgoing calendar appointments are via an IMAP account on Outlook to/from gmail servers

  • Sometimes, I'll use the IMAP client to send mail just to be able enable things like read receipts

  • Syncing between iPhone and Outlook is over local WiFi

  • The syncing is enabled by an app AkrutoSync, which accesses the *.pst file and presents an Exchange interface to the iPhone

I do not plan to migrate to the cloud and use Office 365. However, Outlook 2019 is way too expensive in Canada these days. Ufortunately, AkrutoSync only specializes in providing an reliable conduit between smartphones and Outlook.

I was hoping to find a more affordable alternative to Outlook + AkrutoSync.


  • Nothing goes over the cloud except email, and only gmail.

  • For calendar, contacts, and notes, the app will serve as grand central on my laptop

  • I need to be able to migrate existing calendar items, contacts, and notes to the new app -- as far as I can see, it needs to import from my *.pst file

  • All email is kept remotely for nomadic access -- as far as I can see, the app must be able to act as an IMAP client

  • Syncing of calendar, contacts, and notes with the iPhone must be local, e.g., local WiFi (though I will consider a cable)

  • I don't know whether my next phone will be iPhone, so a common (if not vendor agnostic) method for synching is preferred, e.g., Exchange interface

  • If syncing is done via a separate app, it must have a proven record of reliability

  • The laptop currently runs Windows 10, but the solution could very well come from apps that are not strictly for Windows 10 only

Considering the above requirements, can anyone suggest an app, possibly augmented by a separate app for syncing? What are the reasons behind your recommendation, e.g., specific features? It would also be helpful to know what your baseline for comparison is, as well as your exposure to alternatives.

A wish-list item rather than a requirement: As I will be ceasing to use Office, it would be great if the app is an Office alternative, with spreadsheet and Word functionality, and compatible with those files from Microsoft Office.

Weeks later: Looks like the only product that can do the PIM part is EssentialPIM and EfficientPIM. I have my own reasons for narrowing it down to EfficientPIM. A runner up is Thunderbird, but it only covers calendar & contacts, not notes. Furthermore, syncing without the cloud requires setting up my own servers, which is beyond what I was looking for in a solution.

I was all keen on EssentialPIM, even looking into learning about its embedded Firebird database so that I have better control of the data. Then I found that, according to the online documentation, it requires iTunes on the laptop and iOS EssentialPIM on the phone, even though it uses the native calendar and contacts on the phone (no mention about syncing notes!). I can live with iOS EssentialPIM, but having to install iTunes is really giving me pause. Other than the iPhone, I am thoroughly entrenched in the Windows ecosystem, and iTunes is an enormous system to install just for syncing. Plus, no menion of syncing Notes. Looks ike the journey isn't in its home stretch yet....

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