Don’t lose your Contacts again, use Google


Have you ever lost all of your phone numbers or contacts? Do you have trouble keeping them all up to date? Have you ever found yourself without your phone or computer and you need to get in touch with someone?

Here’s an example from my personal life:  I arrived on a week-long business trip in Europe and could not get my global phone to connect to the mobile networks. I tried everything I could think of to get it to work, but to no avail. Fortunately, by having my contacts synced with Google, I was able to borrow another Android device from a friend, enter my account info, and I was up and going within minutes.

Syncing your Contacts with Google

For this solution, you don’t store any contacts directly on your phone. If you create a new contact, make sure you select your Google account and create it there. This has two advantages

  1. You will have access to that contact on all your devices: synced contacts will appear on your phone, tablet, and PC – and any updates you make in one place will transfer to all the rest.
  2. You can manage all of your contacts online via the web: this makes it easy to search for and merge duplicates, update information, sort through old contacts, etc.
  3. Never lose your contacts if you lose your device: since they are synced online, you will never have to worry about losing your contacts if you lose or break your phone.

Instructions for Android

I did some research online, and it seems that there is no ideal way to get the contacts off of your phone and uploaded into Google. Here is a simplified solution (done on an HTC Incredible 2 running ICS):

1. Open the contacts on your Android device

2. Click “Menu” and select “Import/Export”. Then on the “Import/Export contacts” screen select “Export to SD card”

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3. Then on the “Please select an account to export” screen, select “Phone”. Then you will confirm the export of your contacts to your SD card

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4. Next, you are going to need to import these contacts into your Google account. From your phonebook screen, you are going to select “Menu” and then “Import/Export” again. This time, instead of exporting them, you want to select “Import from SD card” then select your Google account from the list

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5. It will search your phone for available lists, and you should select the export file (probably named “pcsc_pcsc_00001.vcf”) that you want to import back into your Google account.

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That’s it, your contacts will upload into your Google account, and you will be able to access and manage them through your web browser. To clean things up on your phone, you will either want to delete the contacts off your phone (make sure you check they are in Google first!) or choose to not display the contacts on your phone in your contact list.

The filter for your Phonebook contacts is at the top of the page, and you can deselect the contacts which are stored on your phone (the screenshot below is from my phone and I don’t have any).


A couple of other great things about using Google for your contacts:
1.  You can add multiple Google accounts – I have 2 accounts, one for work and one for personal. That way I can always keep my contacts separate but have them compiled into one list.
2. ICS even has nifty little pictures if they have a Google profile – or you can add your own via the web interface

Instructions for iOS

Setting up Google Sync on your iPhone is (as always) just a little bit more difficult, however has the same great benefits. Click on the link to learn more: Set up Google Sync on your iPhone