Monday, November 3, 2014

Contacts Sync for Google Gmail // Organizing Contacts into Groups

When I did my series on {Almost} Paperless, I mentioned an iMac app, Cobook, that I used as an Address Book on my computer.  They made an update to the app and changed their interface.  I didn't like it, and I didn't like how they imported my Facebook friends into the app resulting in many contacts with little data (just links to their Facebook profiles which is not useful to me at all).

I did some searching and found an app that has worked really well for me.  Contacts Sync for Google Gmail is an app that syncs the contacts in my Gmail address book with the Mac app Address Book as well as with iCloud.  This results in my iPhone, iPad, and iMac all being synced together.

Contacts Sync for Google Gmail has apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.  If you have a Mac computer, then you only need the app for the Mac.  You can use the resident app Address Book to organize your contacts into groups, and then use Contacts Sync for Google Gmail to sync them to your gmail account.  You may have to go to your gmail account (on the web) to find and merge duplicate contacts.  The initial setup can take a while while you tweak everything, but after that, it works like a charm!  You do not even have to have Contacts Sync for Google Gmail up and running all the time (although you can since it does offer Auto-sync).  If you do not use Auto-sync, be sure to sync every time you make changes to your address book or to your iPhone contacts.

If you do NOT have a Mac computer, then you will use the app for your iPhone or your iPad.  I can't help you any further with setting up groups.

Organizing Contacts into Groups (using the Mac app Address Book)

For best results, I set Address Book up to only show my iCloud contacts.  Here is the Preferences window:

When I enabled my Gmail accounts, it showed duplicate contacts (since they were all synced together).  Having only my iCloud account enables just makes it easier.

Below is a screenshot of my Address Book app showing how I have organized my contacts:

I have several main categories:  Business, CBC - my church, Christmas Cards, Church - other people/organizations besides my church, Family, Friends, Miscellaneous, OCC (Operation Christmas Child), and OtMP (my photography business).  Most of these are further subdivided into subcategories.  (The My Contacts category is one that Gmail generates on its own every time I add a new contact on my phone. It's somewhat useful for finding new contacts that need to be put into my groups.)

First, I put every contact into a main category (Ex: Business - all) and then I also put them into the appropriate subcategories.

The only thing I do not like about Address Book is that it does not tell me on the Contacts view all of the groups that the selected contact is in.  I have to go to to see that.  I have not yet checked all of my contacts to make sure they are in the correct groups, but I know it will be somewhat tedious to use and Address Book; however, once it is all set up the way I want it, I shouldn't have any problems after that.

One final piece of advice:  while you are reorganizing your contacts and are tweaking your groups, make sure you save a backup of your contacts before, during, and after the process.

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