4 Tips to Keep Your Google Contacts in Shape

Photo grid of Lego figures, some with checkmarks and some without

Google Contacts is one of the best ways to organize and sync your contacts across a variety of platforms. But even though most of us depend on our contacts list to get us through the day, more often than not this crucial list is ignored and left to its own devices.

If you let your contacts list go too long without tending to it, just like a neglected garden, it’s bound to grow weeds: duplicate contacts, misspelled names, missing information.

Use the tips below to gain control of your Google contacts and give them the attention they deserve.

SEE ALSO: 7 of the Best Google Drive Features You Should Be Using Right Now

1. Import/Export/Print

If you’re reading this you probably already have more than enough Google contacts. But no matter how many you have, Google gives you the ability to easily import more, as well as export and even print them.

The import and export features are great for moving into and out of Google Contacts from other services like Outlook or Apple Mail, and the print feature is perfect for distributing a specific list of contacts, like an emergency contact list at home.

To use these features, head over to Google Contacts and click on the More menu.

The Import feature is pretty straightforward. All you need is a list of contacts in either CSV or vCard format. Select that file on your computer and click the Import button.

Export is just as easy to use. Click More > Export and tell Google Contacts what you want to export. You can export a contact group (more on those in tip #3), specific contacts that you’ve checkmarked, or your entire contact list. Choose the format to export in and click the Export button. The file will be built by Google and downloaded to your device.

Finally, the print feature works just like Export, except you get a physical copy. Click More > Print, choose which contacts to print, then click the Print button.

2. All Contacts

When you send or receive an email with someone who isn’t in your address book, Google automatically adds that address to a folder called Other Contacts. If you don’t prune this folder from time to time, it can get very unwieldy and become mostly useless.

To manage Other Contacts, log in to your Gmail account and click on Other Contacts in the sidebar.

Closeup of Google Contacts sidebar

If you haven’t looked here before, be ready for a lot of junk. To start with, scroll through the list and tick the checkbox next to each contact you want to add to your Google contacts. When you’ve selected all the contacts you wish to add, click the Add to My Contacts button at the top of the window.

Closeup of Google account interface showing contacts

They’ll be removed from the list and you’ll get a message letting you know they were added.

Duplicate contacts killing your productivity? See how Scrubly can help in this 100-second video.

Next, click all the useless email addresses in the list, then click More > Delete. This will remove those contacts from the list, making it ready for new addresses to show up. Now that you’re done cleaning up the list, it’ll be much easier to manage in the future.

3. Contact Groups

Now that you’ve added some new contacts to your list, it’s time to clean them up by creating contact groups. Groups in Google Contacts serve two purposes:

  • They make large lists easier to view, export, and print.
  • They work as mailing lists so you can send an email to a large group of people without having to type out each address.

There are a few ways to make a contact group in Google Contacts, but the simplest method is to view your entire contacts list and check the box next to each person you want to add to the new list.

Once you have all your selections complete, click the Groups button (three heads together with a down arrow next the them) and select Create New.

Google Group Contacts drop-down menu

Enter a name for the group that’s descriptive enough to remember and click OK. Now you should see your new group in the sidebar.

You can add people to multiple groups and still view all your contacts by clicking My Contacts in the sidebar. To send an email to that group, just open a new message in Gmail and type the group name into the “To” field. You should see a preview of the email addresses in the group appear. Just click on the preview and the email addresses will populate automatically. If you’re sending to a large group, it’s a good idea to use the Bcc field to avoid massive “Reply All” issues.

RELATED: 7 Hidden Google Gems

4. Fix Duplicate Google Contacts

With all these new contacts, you’re probably noticing some duplicates popping up. Maybe one entry has your friend’s email address and another has his phone number. Or maybe you just entered the exact same contact twice without thinking about it.

No matter how they appear, duplicate contacts are a pain, not to mention a waste of your time.

While we’re pretty fond of using Scrubly to fix duplicate Google Contacts, Google also gives you a basic tool to help with this problem. It’s not nearly as thorough or safe as Scrubly, but it’ll work in a pinch.

In the Google Contacts window, click the More menu and select Find & merge duplicates.

Google Contacts More drop-down menu

You’ll get a report telling you what Google will do. Select the duplicate Google contacts you want taken care of and click the Merge button.

You can also check out Scrubly to see how you can fix duplicate Google Contacts.

Scrubly social-sharing menu.

Scrubly sign-up.