How To Clean Up Your Android’s Contact List


None of us likes to do it, but at some point you’ve got to accept that a crucial part of your phone is the contact list.  It’s a tedious and boring chore to get it all organized, but once it is, boy does it make a difference.  Maybe you’ve let things get really out of hand and you have to clean things up, or maybe you’ve just transitioned to a new phone or a new platform.  Either way, here are some tips to help you get things under control.

I believe the most important step in organizing your contact list is having a Gmail account.  If you haven’t already done that, please do so now.

Great! Now we can move on.

All contacts in one place

If you don’t already know this, all of the contacts from your Android phone are syncing to your Gmail account and vice versa.  Sometimes managing contacts is just easier from your computer.  Go to Google Contacts and see what you’ve got there.  If you don’t believe that all of your contacts are there, let’s import them.

There is information HERE on how to import your address book from other email providers.

To import contacts from a Mac, go to your address book.  Make sure you are under All Contacts, then use Command+A to select all.  With all contacts highlighted, Right Click and select EXPORT VCARD.  Once it’s saved, go back to Gmail.  Go to MORE, IMPORT, and select the file you’ve just saved.  It will import all of these contacts into your Gmail, which will then sync with your phone.

You can also create a CSV (Comma Separated Value) in Excel and import it.  Create a table with the headers First Name, Last Name, Email Address, Phone Number, and Home Address.  Whatever information you put in here and save as a CSV you can import to Gmail under MORE and IMPORT.

You’ve now got all of your contacts saved to Gmail.  Now let’s get it all cleaned up.

Removing or Combining Duplicates

In Google Contacts, click on MORE and select the option FIND AND MERGE DUPLICATES.  A list of duplicates found will come up, and you can select whether or not to merge them.  When I selected this I had 93 duplicates.

You can do this individually by checking to boxes and selecting MORE, and MERGE CONTACTS.

You can also do this on your phone. For example, I had an email address without a name, then I had a name and phone number.  To combine these I went to the contact that had the Name and clicked EDIT. Then, under the options menu I clicked JOIN.  My phone selected the contacts it thought I’d likely want to join with, but if the one I was looking for wasn’t there I could scroll through all of my contacts.  I just selected the email with no name and it combined the two.  If I ever want to disconnect them I can click EDIT and under the options menu, SEPARATE.

Deleting contacts with no information

How annoying is it to think you have somebody’s information, click on their name, and realize there is nothing there?  In Google Contacts as you scroll through the contacts, it is easy to spot those with no other information.  Just click the box 0f all contacts you want deleted and select DELETE CONTACTS under the MORE option.

After you’ve done these first few things, you’ll already see a significant difference in your contact list.  There are still one more thing you can do.

Undo Syncing From Third Parties (Like Facebook)

You may find that your phone has been syncing not only with Gmail, but also Yahoo, Facebook, and several other apps you’ve got downloaded.  By removing this, your contact list will really clear up.

Go to your SETTINGS and under ACCOUNTS you will see all of the different accounts that are being synced to your phone.  Select each one and take a look at what is being synced.  If you don’t want something, you can just uncheck it.   It will say “Sync is OFF.”  (I am using a Nexus 4 with KitKat.  Most Android phones will be this straight forward, but other phones may require you to do some clicking around to figure out how to unlink an account, but they all should be in your Settings Menu.)

Now if you ever lose your phone, you don’t have to do that “I lost my phone text your numbers” post because they are still on Gmail.  Also, if you do something crazy in Google Contacts and accidentally delete or import 500 numbers (totally did this while writing this post), you can “Restore Contacts.”   Just go to MORE and RESTORE CONTACTS.  It will restore to whatever contacts list you had at whichever time you select.

Yes, there are apps that will do this for you, but why clutter up your phone even more when it isn’t necessary?


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