5 Quick Tips For Managing Gmail Contacts

Gmail logo.

Be honest, Gmail users, you never look at the Contacts tab, do you?

Your contact list just sits there, sad and neglected, growing larger and lonelier every time you email someone new or add contacts to your Android phone.

Well, it’s time to clean house. Think of how much better that list is gonna feel after you:

  • get rid of duplicate contacts
  • remove unnecessary contacts
  • fix auto-save, and more

Here are the top five ways to get the most out of your Gmail contact list.

1. Find and Merge Duplicates

Gmail does have a tool built in that will find and merge duplicates for you. It’s pretty easy to use but doesn’t give you a lot of options on what gets merged or how.

Here’s how to use it:

1. Open the contacts manager by clicking the Gmail drop-down menu in the upper left of the Gmail window.

2. Select Contacts.

3. Click the More drop-down menu at the top of your contacts list

4. Select Find & merge duplicates. This will either return a number of contacts that can be merged or will tell you there are no duplicates.

This seems great, but there’s one more step.

Screen shot of the no-duplicates message.

Google automatically merges your contacts, so you don’t have control over the process.

Which is why Scrubly is better. You can approve every merger as you go. Plus, Scrubly manages duplicate Gmail contacts with far more precision than the free Google tool can.

(Full disclosure: We’re biased. But the information is still true.)

For more information, see our related post “How to Fix Your Google Duplicate Contacts.”

2. Make Your Own Contact Groups

When you look at your contact list you should see a few groups already there, including various Google+ circles and Most Contacted.

While these are nice, you can make your own groups that are far more useful to you, for example:

  • work
  • family
  • friends

Since contacts can be in more than one group at a time, you can make a group for each project you’re working on. That way, emailing the team is easy.

Or, you can make a group for your vacation this year — made up of only the people going with you.

However you do it, when the group is created and users added to it, you can just email the group by the group name.

Here’s how to set it up.

1. Open the contacts manager by clicking the Gmail drop-down menu in the upper left of the Gmail window.

2. Click New Group in the sidebar.

3. Give the group a name.

4. Check the boxes next to the people you want to add

5. Click the Groups button

6. Select the group to add them to.

Screen shot of the Groups menu.

3. Fix Auto-Save

Any time you send or receive email that involves a new email address, it’s automatically saved to the Other Contacts folder.

This folder is meant to be a catchall for any contacts you may miss, but it can turn into a mess pretty fast.

Click on this group from the left menu in the Contact manager to see how it looks. If there are a lot of useless email addresses in here, you can disable this feature.

Here’s how.

1. Click the gear icon in the upper left corner of the main Gmail page.

2. Select the Settings option. The Settings page will open.

3. Scroll down until you see a field labeled Create contacts for auto-complete. Set this option to I’ll add contacts myself. Email addresses will stop saving automatically.

Add contacts yourself.

4. Do It the Hard Way

Sometimes you need to do things the hard way and go through your contacts manually. This can be painful, but once it’s done it will be easier to manage your list in the future.

Start with the Other Contacts folder. Save any contacts you know you need and delete the rest.

Once this is done, move on to checking spellings and out-of-date email addresses and phone numbers. You’d be surprised how much of that information Google saved.

5. Back Up Your Contacts

Once you get everything cleaned up and ready to go, you really need to export your contacts and back them up. If something were to happen to your Gmail account you definitely want those contacts saved. All it would take is for your account to be compromised and all your contacts could be deleted.

Back them up now.

6. Bonus Tip: Just Get Scrubly

By uploading your Gmail contacts to Scrubly, you can clean out duplicate Gmail contacts, save a backup copy of your contacts, and even sync Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn information into your address book, giving you pictures and additional contact information.

Easy, right?

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