Mobility

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.

Editor's Picks