By David Gracey
I have gotten to the point in my life where I am totally dependent on the contact database on my iPhone. Actually, we use Microsoft Exchange at Network 1, so I am dependent on my iPhone contacts which is dependent on my Outlook Contacts, but it’s just the same. Outlook syncs with my iPhone in real time. Keeping a clean contact list helps minimize confusion and boosts productivity. Plus it keeps my inner OCD at peace. There have been plenty of occasions where I have tried to look up a person’s contact information only to find that I have entered them several times in my contacts. One entry will have an email address, another might have their cell phone, while a third might have their street address. This stems from entering contact information haphazardly (but conveniently) like we all do: someone texts us and we add them to our contacts but don’t circle back to fill in their full name, email, work address, company name and all those other tidbits that keeps us productive. Then a week later we get an email from that same person and add them quickly as a new contact instead of updating the first contact with the new piece of information. Having multiple contacts for the same person is annoying because when I need to get the right information quickly, I have to hunt to guess the right one. Invariably, I’m driving when I need this information and I’m unable to make the phone call or send the text (using voice commands, of course, because I don’t text and drive. Have you ever gotten in a fight with Siri because you have multiple contacts with the same name? Not pretty).
Single Address book: Smartphones, both iPhone and Android, have built in features that let you merge one contact with another. It’s clunky but it works. On the iPhone (sorry, guys, I don’t have an Android so you are on your own on this one) you edit a contact, then scroll to the bottom and select ‘link contacts’ which brings you back to your list of contacts, at which point you locate the duplicate contact and merge the two. Quite a manual process. Wouldn’t it be great if someone created an app for SmartPhones that did the work for you? Ah, but they have! One I tested is called Cleanup Dupes (apparently they don’t have a marketing department to come up with an original name for their app; what a bunch of nerds!)
A quick download of the Cleanup Dupes app and it launches automatically. You’ll need to give it access to your contacts, which it asks permission to do on the first screen. The next step is to analyze all of your contacts for duplicates, which takes it about 3 minutes.
Once the app has finished analyzing, you’ll get a list of duplicates and you can check the ones you want to have merged for you. Pretty cool stuff.
Multiple address books: If you really want to get organized, tackle the issue of having multiple address books. Some folks keep multiple address books on their computers and phones and many of these have duplicate contacts in them. (Don’t tell Cynthia about this as it will wreck my life.) This is usually done to keep work and personal email addresses separate. But as technology has advanced, there are very few reasons why you’d want to do this. Centralize all your contacts into a single database and simplify your life. You can use Microsoft Exchange (we prefer this if you have it at work), Google gmail, Outlook.com and Yahoo; these are all good examples. There are lots of variables here with different services, however, the essential tasks are to pick your primary contact list first, then export the contacts from the other contact lists to an XLS or CSV format and import them into your primary list. Do all of this from a computer, not your SmartPhone. It’s much easier this way.
Scrubly is another downloadable program that runs on your desktop and cleans up a single or multiple address books. It’s compatible with most major applications like Outlook, Gmail, Mac, and PC.