Using the infrared port in your Palm

Question: How do I use that little beamer port on my Palm Pilot? –J.P.S.

Answer: That port is a clever feature of the Palm line of handheld computers. It’s called an IR or infrared port and it allows you to send data out of a Palm without a cable via infrared waves. It’s similar to your TV remote control and the way it beams instructions to your television.

Any device with the Palm operating system (or PalmOS) on board has an IR port. That includes Palm-brand hand-held computers as well as devices made by Handspring, as well as the Sony Clie and TRG Pro devices. (The Pocket PC hand-held computers also have an IR port, but the instructions below do not apply to them.)

Since all these devices run the PalmOS, they all work similarly. There are three very useful things you can use the IR port for.

1. Send a program or piece of data on your Palm to another Palm. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Turn the device on and use the stylus (the pen-shaped stick) to tap on the “Menu” icon in the bottom left corner of the device’s screen. It looks like a drop-down menu with an arrow inside a circle. When you tap it once, the menus at the top of the screen appear. Tap on the “App” menu and then tap on the “Beam” item. The Beam applet will appear on the Palm’s screen. All the programs on your Palm will be listed. There’s a scroll bar to the right. You can drag it to see the bottom of the list. Choose an applet that you want to send to a friend’s Palm. Tap to select it and then tap the on-screen “Beam” button. The Palm will show “Preparing” ” and then it will say “Searching”.
  2. Next put the IR port of the receiving Palm within about two feet of the sending Palm. The IR port is normally found at the top-end of the hand-held device. The receiving Palm will sense the transmitted data and will begin receiving it. When the transmission is completed, you’ll be prompted with a screen that asks if you want to accept the transmission.
  3. Tap “Yes” if you want it stored on the device. Tapping “No” will discard the transmission.

2. Swapping business cards with other Palm users. To do this:

  1. Create an entry about yourself in your Address Book applet on your Palm. Include all the relevant info you’d like to send in the electronic business card including your name, phone numbers, addresses and other contact information.
  2. Next, mark the entry as your designated business card. To do this, go into your address entry so that you’re looking at your personal info on the Palm’s screen.
  3. Now select the menu icon (bottom left of the screen) and tap the “Record” menu at the top of the screen.
  4. Then tap “Select Business Card”. The system will ask you if you want to make the entry your business card. Tap “yes”. A little business card icon will appear at the top of the entry. Whenever you want to beam that business card to another Palm, simply hold down the “Address” button at the bottom of the Palm. It’s the button with the telephone receiver on it. This sends your designated business card via the IR port to another Palm. When it arrives on the receiver’s Palm, they have the option to store it in their address book or discard it.

Check out this list of IR-enabled phones.