Managing my contacts in GMail

I find managing contacts in Google Mail a little frustrating, but the end result is worth the effort.

To set the scene, I use Google Mail to manage my own non-Google email through Google Apps.  I use it daily—for both work and personal purposes—and I love it.  But as I email new people, either in response to one of their emails, or as an unsolicited email from myself, the email addresses of those people are added as separate new contacts, without anything telling me.  This is not a complaint; merely a statement of fact.

Now there are two contact groups of interest: My Contacts and All ContactsMy Contacts contains all of the people whose contact entries I’ve had an active part in editing; All Contacts is all of those people plus the newly added ones.

So each month—or to be honest, a little less regularly than that—I find the newly added entries and tidy them up.  So if an entry is stored as an email address (, I’ll put in their forename and surname and any additional pertinent details, so that they appear in the correct place alphabetically and so that I can find them via their name rather than just their email address.

Now this is the problem: there is no group in Google Contacts containing just those entries.  So to identify the records that I need to address (37 this evening), I have to export each of My Contacts and All Contacts and find mis-matches between the two files in Excel.

By the end of the task, the number of people in the two Google groups matches.  And I feel wonderfully clean again—I feel slightly sullied by having unorganised contacts in my database.  But wouldn’t it be nice if there was a group containing just the new entries, to save my exporting and matching in Excel?

By Dan on 19 August, 2009 · Posted in Tech stuff, User experience

3 Comments | Post Comment

Greg Baker says:

This has bothered me for a while and I haven’t found a neat solution…I either search the name field for an @ sign…or just scroll through manually. Might try using the .csv file though…

Posted on August 19th, 2009

Tom Viner says:

Could you use vlookup in excel to find the extra entries in a list?

Posted on September 6th, 2009

Tom Viner says:

Of course what you should really do is message the gmail team to request that feature. They may actually be on twitter. Let us know if they reply.

Posted on September 6th, 2009