Get rid of duplicate contacts on your iPhone with ContactClean

Derek Schauland highlights a housekeeping app for your iPhone that helps you clean up your contacts list.

Recently, I was looking for a number in the contacts app on my iPhone and noticed that there were far too many duplicates. Later I came back to this problem and decided to find an app to help me clean up the mess. I stumbled across ContactClean from Headlight software and thought for 99 cents I would give it a shot. Trying the application could not make the state of my contacts any worse.

Getting started

The first time you start the app, it prompts you to backup your current contacts, just in case there is a problem. When the backup is complete, the file is attached to an email and presented to you to send off for safe keeping. This was a surprise, that a developer would think of backing up my contacts. Nice work.

Figure A

The Interface

The email I sent to myself showed that before doing anything to merge or clean up my contacts, I had 2358 contacts. Yikes, that's a lot of duplicates!

ContactClean has an option for an automatic contact clean. When you tap this button, the app will analyze your contacts and see how many it can combine without any help from you. I thought it did a pretty good job, but there was more work to do after the first pass.

After automation

Once it cleaned out the dupes it could, I ran the automation a couple times just to be sure. Then I tried the Cleanup Contacts option, which presents three comparison methods:

  • Name - this selection looks for duplicate names
  • E-mail - this selection looks for duplicate email addresses
  • Phone Number - this selection looks for duplicate phone numbers

After you have selected what it should search on, your remaining contacts will get analyzed for duplicates that meet these criteria.

A list of duplicate entries that remain is presented to you. If there are only one pair of duplicates, the comparison records will be presented as shown below.

Figure B

Comparing duplicate records

On this comparison screen, you can select to merge into the left record or the right record. If there are fields listed you wish to delete, select the delete button, a red x in the middle of the records.

When the record is configured the way you want, click save. Then that record will be removed from the list. If there are more than two duplicates, the merged record will be returned to the list with other duplicates for additional comparisons.

Other options available for working on your contacts include:

  • Fixing misnamed entries - this allows you to fix entries with only one name, like Madonna or to fix entries with the first and last names slammed together.
  • Find and Replace - you can look for text and replace it with different text and select the name, phone number, or email address field with the text you search for at the beginning, middle, or end of the field.
  • Repair Labels - this option helps to reset field labels that might be misnamed, where the field is called home or cell rather than mobile. This option is automatic and will fix found items. When I tried this feature, there were no contacts found, and further reading of the help file, pointed out that this option made fields more Siri friendly.
  • Quick Delete - This option helps to delete a bunch of contacts all at once. Be very careful with this one.

There is one other setting, in the Settings menu. If you have a lot of contacts, you can configure Contact Clean to work in chunks. Normally it will spin through contacts a few at a time, but chunking can speed up the process of cleanup.

Because I am not the best at keeping my contacts cleaned up, this app was a bit of a lifesaver. If you need a contacts management app, this might be the app for you.