How to update Ford SYNC with a Mac

I have a 2013 Ford Fusion. I like the car, but SYNC, the media system (think phones, etc.), is really bad.

I thought updating the software would help. Here’s how that went.

Throughout this whole experience, I had to keep reminding myself of two facts to properly lower my expectations.

  1. Ford is a car company, not a software company.
  2. SYNC is powered by Microsoft.

That said…

First, you need to create an account at Ford’s website for car owners, and in the process you add a vehicle to your account by entering the VIN. I made mistakes a few times because it appeared the page was loaded and I would try to use it, but in reality there was an AJAX process that was about to add my details to the pages. The site felt sluggish, so I basically just had to force myself to wait for the website after every move. (My Internet connection clocks in at around 50 to 60 Mbps, so it isn’t that.)

Once I had the account set up and my car added, it seemed obvious that there was an update for SYNC. It took me a moment to actually find it.

The instructions that came up were for more recent versions of SYNC, so I had to skip to a second set of instructions for older vehicles. The instructions helped me see that I was about to run the gauntlet.

For users of macOS, there are two important problems to overcome.

  1. You need to find a USB thumb drive and use Disk Utility to erase it and format as FAT with a scheme of Master Boot Record. (That isn’t hard.)
  2. When you download the installation file, everything goes sideways. If you try to put the files on the USB drive, go to your car and start the installation, your car will tell you File Not Found. You need to fix the files before you try to install them.

Fixing the SYNC install files

When you download the files, they will probably appear in your Downloads directory. Instead of being a file you need to decompress/unzip like Ford’s instructions indicate, it’ll just be a file folder with a name like GG1T-14D544-AB.

When you open that directory, you’ll see a bunch of odd files that look something like this.

Files for the SYNC software update. This won't work.
This is the default SYNC update file list as it appears on my Mac. The backslash characters in the filenames are a good clue.

To fix them, you need to add a new directory called SyncMyRide. Then you need to remove the “SyncMyRide\” from all of the filenames, and then move those files into the SyncMyRide folder.

It’ll end up looking like this.

File list that actually works in upgrading SYNC on Ford.
Here’s what the files should look like in order to work.

Move the files over to the thumbdrive. Don’t drag the containing directory, the GG1T-14D544-AB folder, just the fixed contents of it.

Figuring this out caused me too many trips between my computer and my car. I hope it helps you.

Last note, I did finish the process by reporting back to Ford that I did update SYNC. They really stress that, and I encourage you to do it. It’s probably the easiest part of the whole process, and involves you bringing the USB drive back to your computer and uploading an XML file that your car put on the drive back up to Ford. (That XML file was in the SyncMyRide folder.)

Good luck.

P.S., after doing the update, SYNC is still really bad.

Author: Davin Granroth

Davin is Chief Operating Officer for Covenant Eyes, Inc. in Owosso, MI, USA, where he gets to mix his background in user experience design, research, and strategy with the operation of a software company. For more, see his LinkedIn profile.

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