I manage the IT Help Desk at Southern Utah University. We see a wide variety of problems on a wide variety of devices. Today we don't just help people with a desktop or notebook computer alone. Times have changed and now most users have multiple devices. It is very common to have faculty, staff, and students that come to campus with a laptop, smart phone and tablet. Because of this I get calls and emails on a daily basis from users that are having a Contact Crisis. What I mean by that is they have ether a ton of duplicate contacts, contacts on there University Gmail account are not syncing to there phone, or they just have no clue why that contacts they added on their iPad never showed up on their other devices. To further complicate things most people have multiple emails that they have connected to their phone, computer and tablet.
I see this problem most often with users that have an iPhone and iPad. Because people who have Apple devices all have a free iCloud account it can really compound the Contact Crisis. I find that people tend to turn on contact syncing on every email they sync with their device. iOS also has a default option that determines where a contact is added when on your device. So when you enter a new contact when on your phone that contact will only be added to your contact list that is set to be the default. iOS also has the ability to save your added contacts only to your device. Can you see the problem now? So how can we get them all in sync? I will show you how I stop the madness. It requires you to turn off syncing on all but one account, and make sure your default settings match on all your devices. So lets get started.
Before you do anything, pick your "Pony".
The first step of the process is the most stressful. You’ll need to pick your contacts “Pony.” For most of us, that means deciding between Apple tools like iCloud contacts, or Google Gmail contacts.
What’s important is that you have a “master” contact file in either iCloud or Gmail. Having your contacts spread out amongst a handful of services is the fastest way to get disorganized and frustrated. Pick your "Pony" and stick with it.
I recommend choosing Google, for several reasons:
- Google contacts can sync with iPhones. Apple contacts cannot sync with Android.
- Google’s contact manager is a robust tool for editing contacts.
- A slew of third-party apps work with Google Contacts and Gmail.
- iCloud has made progress, but is still often buggy and unreliable.
First we’ll get your contacts synced up across all of your networks.
Whipping Your Contacts Into Shape.
From years of internet use, you likely have contacts spread out across a variety of different platforms and email databases. I for one have 5 different Gmail accounts. I wont even talk about the fact that I also have Yahoo and Hotmail accounts that I have abandoned and never check. Our first goal will be to combine your contacts into one slim, lean, easy-to-read, and useful database in the “Pony” of your choice. I am only going to focus on iCloud and Gmail but the process is the same for all the other web mail clients as well. These two seem to be where 90% of users I deal with on a daily basis have their contacts.
You will want to export your contacts out of iCloud to a vCard. vCard is a file format standard for electronic business cards. They can contain name and address information, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, URLs, logos, photographs, and audio clips. I will walk you through how to back up contacts from both Apple iCloud and Google Gmail.
Export iCloud contact information as a vCard
1. Sign in to iCloud.
2. Click on Contacts.
3. Select one or more contacts in the contacts list. To select several adjacent contacts, click the first one, then Shift-click the last one. To select multiple nonadjacent contacts, Command-click them on a Mac or Control-click them on a Windows computer.
4. Click on the Action pop-up menu at the bottom of the contacts list (Gear Icon).
5.Choose Export vCard from the Action pop-up menu at the bottom of the contacts list. If you select multiple contacts, Contacts exports a single vCard containing all of them.
Export Gmail contact information into a CSV File
You can quickly export your Gmail Contacts list into a CSV file. Here's how:
1. Sign in to Gmail.
2. Click Gmail at the top-left corner of your Gmail page, then choose Contacts.
3. From the More drop-down menu, select Export....
4. Choose whether to export all contacts or only one group.
5. Select the format in which you'd like to export your contacts' information. Please note, some of these formats can lose some contact information.
-To transfer contacts between Google accounts, use the Google CSV format. This is the recommended way to back up your Google Contacts.
-To transfer contacts to Outlook, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, or various other apps, use the Outlook CSV format.
-To transfer contacts to Apple Address Book, use the vCard format.
6. Click Export.
7. Choose Save to Disk then click OK.
8. Select a location to save your file, and click OK.
Depending on the requirements of the program to which you're exporting your contacts from Gmail, you can easily edit the file to fit your needs.
Importing contacts to Gmail:
1. Sign in to Gmail.
2.Click Gmail at the top-left corner of your Gmail page, then choose Contacts.
3. Click the More button above the contacts list and select Import....
Click the Choose File button.
Select the file you'd like to upload and click the Import button.
When it's done, Gmail will display the number of contacts imported.
Get rid of duplicates.
After you import all of your contacts, it’s likely you’ll have duplicates. No worries, Google has a great feature that should condense all of your contacts. Click the same “More” button and then “Find & Merge Duplicates.” Keep an eye on your contact count, you should have shaved off quite a few.
Sync to your iPhone, iPad, and other devices.
Having your contacts organized is useless if you can’t pull up the information on the go. First you will want to turn off all other contact syncing on your devices. This will insure that your new master contacts will be the only list syncing when we turn it on.
Turn of iCloud contact Sync.
On your iOS device: Tap Settings >iCloud> Now make sure that the iCloud contact sync is tuned off.
Turn off all other account contact syncing.
On your iOS device: Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Now click on each account and make sure contact syncing is turned off.
Turn on iOS Syncing with your Google Contacts
Follow these steps if you're using iOS 7 to sync your contacts with Google Contacts:
Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Add Account > Google.
Enter the required information in the fields.
Make sure Contacts is on.
After you have completed the setup, open the Contacts app on your device. Syncing should begin automatically.
Repeat this process on all of your iOS devices.
By having only one account syncing contacts you will always know that you have your contacts when you need them. This will also insure that contacts you put in on your iPhone or iPad will be available to you on any of your devices.