How to Create and Use Google Contacts
Updated: Jun 6
What are Google Contacts & Labels
If you’ve never really used Google Contacts, you might think that every time you email someone new from your email account, all those people are being collected into your Google Contacts and that’s why you can start typing someone’s email address in a new message and Google will suggest emails that you’ve contacted before. However, those people are likely not in your Google Contacts.
You have to deliberately add people to your Google Contacts list.
The reason you would do this is to group the contacts. Grouping contacts under a label allows you to easily email a large group of people without having to individually type out each person’s email address into the “To:” line.
You may already be familiar with emailing people like this, since organizations will usually send “All Staff” emails that go to everyone in the organization. Instead of an unlucky assistant having to type out every person’s individual email address to send that All Staff email, the IT department will have already created a group of contacts that include everyone in the organization and labeled them All Staff. So the assistant only has to type in All Staff in the To: line.
With Google Contacts, you can utilize that same feature without having to contact your IT department. And you can create groups of contacts under labels that are only visible to you. For example, if you’re a teacher and manage 5 different Social Studies classes, you may only want to email students in your 1st period class that their tests have been graded. And if you’ve set up a Google Contact label for each of your separate classes, emailing that 1st period class is really easy. The video above goes through what this example would look like. Watch the video to learn how to:
create a contact;
create a label;
add contacts to a label; and
email a labeled group of contacts.
Good to Know
You don’t have to input all of your contacts manually. If you have a spreadsheet of your data, you can upload the data as a CSV file and have clean Google Contacts quickly.
When you create a Google Contact and include a Gmail account for the contact, if that person has chosen to publicly share contact information about themselves, that info will appear as soon as you’ve saved the contact with their email.
Merge & Fix Contacts
The merge and fix feature is supposed to identify potential duplicate contacts. For example, it may find two contacts with the same name or email address and suggest to merge them. You can find all the identified duplicate contacts in the Merge and Fix section (which is found on the left sidebar and looks like the picture above).
Unfortunately, I have found that sometimes this feature doesn’t catch every duplicated contact or that it takes time to register the contact as a duplicate contact.
When the feature works, it is easy to see and rectify duplicate contacts. All you need to do is review the potentially duplicate contact, and if the contact should be merged, click “Merge”. Then the contacts are merged into one contact with all of the information and labels of both contacts.
Google Contacts is a really helpful feature, when it works. However, in my experience, it seems to be one of the Google tools with the most glitches. Could it be due to my 88wpm typing speed? Maybe. Here are some of the issues I’ve come across and how I’ve dealt with them:
Adding labels to contacts
At times, when I am adding labels to my contacts, I notice that it takes a couple of seconds for the label to show up under the contact name after I click APPLY. I have found that if I quickly begin to search for a second contact, even if the label has showed up previously, it doesn’t always “STICK”. Solution: Slow DOWN. After the label appears, refresh the page to see if the label still appears. It should.
Contacts do not appear alphabetically
This one is not an issue anymore but it was until I figured out how to adjust it. On the upper right-hand corner of contacts.google.com you
will find a gear icon. Click on the gear and then click More settings. Select alphabetize by First Name or Last Name. Problem solved.
Labels do not appear with the most frequently used at the top
Labels ARE alphabetical but they don’t show up necessarily in the order I want them. This is an easy fix though. Simply place a number 1 In front of the label, then a 2., 3. etc. and it’ll sort by number.
BONUS: This is a good trick to use if you don’t like using your Starred section in Google Drive to find your files or folders quickly. You can also use an underscore like this "_New Jersey Contacts" and it’ll place that label or file at the top and then sort by numbers and then alpha characters.
Lastly, if you are like me and need to frequently access contacts from a member on your team, you can ask them to delegate access to their contacts. This is found in the same settings area as your Sort order. Click on the gear icon on the upper right-hand corner in Contacts and then on Delegate access. Delegates can view, edit, delete and create contacts. If you have delegated contacts, they will appear in the left-hand sidebar and look like the picture below. Check out Google Support if you need more help delegating access to contacts.
All in all, Contacts is a decent tool and if you know the tips and tricks to make it work better for you, I think you will find it tremendously useful.
Blanca E. Duarte, Chief Enablement Officer, LogicWing