Smartphones

How to manage the contacts on your Android phone

Jack Wallen shares some tips on how Android device owners can keep their contacts list under control. Two of the tips are specific to the Samsung Captivate line.

Mobile devices have become lifelines for connecting to family, friends, business associates, and clients. With your contacts list growing exponentially, you need to know the best ways to manage this information. Here are some ways Android device owners can keep their contacts list under control.

Google is your friend

The best advice I can offer is to make sure every contact you create on your Android phone is a Google contact. Why is this so important? Because you can manage your Google contacts from within your Google account. This will save you from fumbling around on your mobile phone's keyboard to try to arrange, categorize, create, edit, and delete those contacts.

If you want the non-Google contacts that are already on your Android phone to be migrated to Google contacts, there is no way to do this directly on the phone; instead, you have to do an export/import. You have to export the contacts to a CSV file to your SD card and then import that file into Google.

To export those contacts, you need to use the free app called UiA - Backup Contacts (it's available on the Android Market). After you install the app, you'll see it listed in your Application drawer labeled Backup Contacts. Tap that application, agree to the license, and you'll see the main window (Figure A), where you can: Backup Now, View Your CSV Contact List, Upload To Dropbox, or Send To Email. Figure A

When you export the contacts using Backup Contacts, that CSV file will be saved on the root of your SD card. The file that is saved to your CSV card will be named Backup.Contacts.TODAYS_DATE.csv; TODAYS_DATE is the date the contacts were saved. With that file on your SD card, you can mount the SD card, copy the file to your PC, and then import that file into your Google account contacts.

This method does not convert the contacts on your phone to Google contacts, so you might find some duplicate entries in your contacts. You can delete the contacts on your phone once you know they're secured in your Google account.

Groups

Another tip for organizing your contacts is to use groups. Groups allow you to sort, search, and find your contacts much easier.

Note: All Google contacts will belong to their own group, "Google." You cannot reassign those contacts or assign them to multiple groups. You can manage your Google contacts from within your Google account, but you will not be able to see those actions (such as adding Google contacts to groups within Google) on your Android phone.

For contacts that are on your phone, you can create groups by following these steps:

1. Open the Contacts application.

2. Tap the Groups tab (Figure B).

3. Tap the Menu button.

4. Tap the Create button.

5. Create your new group.

Figure B

The Groups tab also includes all social media accounts you have authenticated on your phone. Follow these steps to assign a contact to a group:

1. Tap the Groups tab.

2. Tap the Add Member button.

3. Select all contacts you want to join the group.

4. Tap the Add button.

Linked Contacts

A very nice feature of the Android contact system is Linked Contacts. A Linked Contact is a way to link one contact to a related contact. For instance, you might want to link all the employees of a specific department. To do this, open one of those contacts and scroll down to the bottom. Tap the section labeled Linked Contacts (Figure C) and then tap the Add Link Contact button. On the next screen, find the contact you want to link, and it will be linked. Repeat these steps to link more contacts. You are limited to five linked contacts. Figure C

Samsung Captivate-specific tips

The next two features I'll highlight -- Directional Swiping and Speed Dialing -- are unique to the Samsung Captivate line of phones.

Directional Swiping

From your Contacts application, the Directional Swiping feature allows you to quickly phone or message a contact depending upon which way you swipe that contact. If you swipe the target contact to the right, you place a phone call; if you swipe the target contact to the left, you send an SMS message. This feature is incredibly handy and should be made available to all Android phones.

Speed Dialing

To add a contact to speed dialing, follow these steps:

1. Open the Contacts application.

2. Tap the Menu button.

3. Tap the Speed Dial button.

4. Tap the number for which you want to add a contact.

5. Find and select the contact.

You can add eight total contacts (the first spot is dedicated to Voice Mail).

Summary

In my opinion, the ability to manage and organize contacts on Android devices makes the platform an even more attractive option for business power users.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

15 comments
wtrbion
wtrbion

Contacts on your Android phone start to swell and become messy, so you hope there's an Android contact manager to help you do the tedious work? Or you have a lengthy contact list and want to import them to your new Android phone, say, HTC Wildfire. I bet you don't want to add contacts to your Android phone one by one manually. Also, losing all contacts on Android is no fun. Therefore, backing contacts up before disaster strikes is a necessity.You can use the Coolmuster Android Assistant to manage your Android phone contacts.

http://www.coolmuster.com/android/android-contacts-editor.html

O Bloody Hell
O Bloody Hell

1) My android now has up to four or FIVE different listings for each contact -- one for the sim, one for google, one for this, one for that. WTF? This appears to tie to the ^$#&^$@& sync BS, as it never happened before they were synced. UNIFY THIS YOU IDIOTS!! Look at several pieces of information, if they're the ^%%$&^ same, it's the same entry!! Eliminate secondary REFERENCES. DUHHHHH. Lord, I'm damned sick of incompetently written software that doesn't have ANY EXCUSE possible for its being incompetently written, since there are vast arrays of competently written software to look at for the basics. 2) Somehow, information which has been a part of a contact FOR YEARS is suddenly, inexplicably GONE. Address info? Nope, no field for that any more.... IN SOME ENTRIES. Notes? Nope, no field for that either. Apparently, despite having FIVE different listings for the same name, and the capacity to freaking KEEP all the data with each of them, it's not bright enough to SHARE that info between each one, so, when you delete one or the other, you're deleting INFO that is UNIQUE to that ^%%$^&%$@@& pos entry. HALFWIT IDIOTS. How freaking COMPLICATED is it to actually WRITE stuff that's BEEN WRITTEN BEFORE? I mean, it's not like OUTLOOK hasn't been doing this pretty exemplary (unlike MOST Microsoft garbage software), so that you should have a fairly GOOD idea what information one might want to KEEP in a contact list, so that you can pretty much NEVER screw up this process. >:-S

Tur Han
Tur Han

Hi there, I have to tell you that a very annoying stuff on Android is to manage your contacts and especially your groups of contacts. I think it is a big missing feature of Android. But fortunately, there are some developpers out there that fill the gap :) Indeed, I would like to introduce you the application called "[b]Group Manager[/b]" (by Tur Han => https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mobappli.groupmanager ) which is an android application that gives you the ability [b]to create or to update any google groups for any of your google accounts[/b]. Furthermore, "Group Manager" also allows you [b]to send a group mail[/b] for a given group and this is so usefull !!! And of course, all your groups are automacally [b]synced[/b] with your google account. ??? Features ??? ??? User friendly application ??? Unlimited group creation/update ??? Easy contacts picking ??? Fast saving ??? Sync with your google account ??? pro version : group mail sending ??? pro version : enhanced search bar ??? pro version : select/deselect all your contacts with 1 touch ??? pro version : filter management (various filter to dynamically display what you need) Go and try it, you really won't be disappointed :) link to the market : https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mobappli.groupmanager

Banyag
Banyag

I share a program called VeryAndroid Contacts Backup can manage your android contacts on computer. Easy to use.

Galane
Galane

"If you want the non-Google contacts that are already on your Android phone to be migrated to Google contacts, there is no way to do this directly on the phone" With current Android versions up to 2.3.5, 3.something and 4.0 there bloody well ought to be a way! Also, there should be a function to synchronize contacts IN CONTACTS. But we're still stuck with one way sync from Google to phone and having to wander around the desert elsewhere to do that broken one-way sync. Just copy how Palm did it a decade ago, that actually works!

steverudyk
steverudyk

When I update existing Google contacts with e.g. phone number changes or additions, the old number still shows up on my Droid2. This applies to deletion of some entries from Google that still remain on the Droid2. Is there anyway to flush all Droid contacts and do a complete clean update? On a related matter Google contacts are sorted in last name order but show up on Droid2 in first name sequence. How do I get the Droid contacts list to appear in last name sequence as well?

mmv-ru
mmv-ru

But what android version and contact application support it? Special about "Linked Contact". I Like to use "Linked Contact" feature, but not found it in android 2.1 standard contacts.

QAonCall
QAonCall

Trust google with every piece of personal information and I have regarding anyone I know, communicate with or speak to. Hmm...maybe not. I don't see black helicoptors, but I know they exist. Google should be no more trusted with your information, than any other disinterested thrid party should be. Anyone who does this, is one hack away from having your personal information exposed. It just seems to be convenient, not prudent. MHO

Aride4ever
Aride4ever

The linked contact feature is on galaxy branded phones. Perhaps others.

bbabbou
bbabbou

@QAonCall 

 The author is supposed to be an avid promoter of free software. I am afraid that he does not understand what freedom is. This said, it is still nice of him to share knowledge about how to use Google's shakles.

However. if there is a way to manage contacts and groups on my phone without being connected on the internet, and without being dependent on Google/Apple/Microsoft/NSA/Whoever-else, I would appreciate a pointer.  I would think that someone must have written an application for it, or is Android just a big con game.

Penguin4
Penguin4

My sentiments, exactly! (I have seen the black helicopters.) :-)

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