How to never lose your contacts on Android smart phones!

Android Man!

Blog by Patrick Talaska – PMTComputing

Since a lot of people are now getting Android phones I’ve seen many many posts on Android contacts.

The first thing I need to address here is the way that cell phone companies transfer your current contacts to your Android is wrong by default. Android phones can store contacts on the phone or in google. When a provider transfers contacts they go into your phone and not into your Android (Google) account. This teaches you how to export them from your phone and how to import them into your google contacts so even if you change devices as soon as you log into your Google Account your contacts appear. Now on with the show…

Google makes it REALLY easy to manage your contacts but most cell phone providers don’t transfer them properly to your new account. The first time you log on to your Android phone you associate it with an existing gmail account or a new gmail account. You then qualify for all the other google products with that one email/logon. Google Contacts is the web interface to managing contacts in your account. Log into the site with your email and password and you’ll be able to see if they loaded your old contacts into your google account. If you’re missing contacts they’re most likely only in your phone contacts.

The problem with leaving the contacts only in your phone and not connected to your email is that if your phone is lost/stolen/damaged/upgraded/replaced they won’t be recovered unless your old phone is laying around. If you have all of your contacts in your Google Contacts account they will restore as soon as you log into your new Android device. You’ll want to get your contacts merged into your google account and this article will walk you through doing just that.

Here’s my first tip on how to merge your phone contacts and keep them forever. Here are the steps and i’ll provide more detail below:

  1. Find your google account if you don’t know it already
  2. Open your contacts -> Menu button -> Import/Export -> Export to SD card
  3. Use a file explorer to email the file to yourself, I recommend ES File Explorer
  4. Download the file from your email to your local system
  5. Go to Google Contacts on your local system
  6. First export your current Google Contacts just in case we need to restore. You can do this by choosing the “More” drop down box -> Export Contacts -> All Contacts -> OK
  7. Optional Step –> See extra help below for this one
  8. Import your phone contacts -> “More” drop down box -> Import Contacts -> Choose your csv file -> Ok
  9. Last clean up step -> “More” drop down box -> Find & merge duplicates
Extra help:
  1. Since you own an Android you have a Google account. You should know the email and password associated with it. If not look under Settings -> Accounts & sync -> View your gmail account.
  2. This should be your default Contacts list (aka the same list you would use to call or text message someone). This will be the same on almost every Android phone. Watch the location on your SD card so you know where to find it in step 3.
  3. ES File Explorer is free from the market. There are tons of tools. This one is pretty simple to use. My CSV file got exported to the folder /external_sd/ on my card. When you get to the file just long press the icon (aka, hold it down) and you will get some options. Scroll down to share, then email or gmail depending on what you want to use. Yes you can email it to yourself. There are also plenty of other options like Dropbox.
  4. Open your email client or Web browser on your computer. Save the file you just emailed to yourself somewhere. Note the location for later.
  5. Pretty self explanatory – Google Contacts
  6. Export your current list just in case we have some catastrophic failure.
  7. Optional Step: Delete your contacts from your phone contacts and from Google contacts to clean out any extra garbage. It’s ok we backed them up and google has a restore feature. If you’re a heavy gmail user you’ll just want to import them over the top of your current contacts. If you’ve never used your gmail blow away the junk that may be in there. To remove the contacts from your phone you will need an app like Delete All Contacts from the market. To delete the contacts from Google Contacts Select all of your contacts -> “More” drop down box -> Delete Contacts
  8. Still on your computer import your contacts through the browser.
  9. Final cleanup merging any duplicates. You may want to click Other Contacts on the left side and delete those since they won’t have phone numbers associated. Those are the emails collected over time by gmail. If you have facebook or other apps on your phone that sync contacts you may have some extras from there that could use touching up. If peoples names on facebook didn’t match closely on google you will have to merge them manually. It’s a simple process highlight any number of contacts you want to merge and from the “More” drop down box -> Merge Contacts – You’re done!

If you have any user feedback on my walkthrough please let me know and i’ll get this main post updated asap!