February 19, 2015

Syncing Your iPhone Contacts in 3 steps


Do you know how your phone stores contacts? Maybe you should.

You may not know it, but right now your iPhone contacts are being synced with something. It might be iCloud. It might be your work email's server. Either way, you won't really know until you check your settings. But is that sync two-way? In other words, if you make a change on the other end, will that change sync back to your iPhone's address book?

By default, it probably won't. Fortunately, you can fix it by doing three simple things.

    • Import Google Contacts.

    • Set Google Contacts as your default.

    • Move your phone's contacts over.

It's fast, easy, and when you're done, you'll have an always-up-to-date contact system across all your devices.

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Editor's Warning

The procedure Brandt is about to walk you through here isn't that complicated, but it does involves your contacts, and it hasn't been formally tested by Contactually. So make sure you know what you're doing before you mess with your contacts (or try it on a series of test accounts, first) especially if you have a system that is working for you already. Let us know how it works for you in the Contactually Forums.


Syncing Your iPhone Contacts in 3 steps...

Why is contact syncing so tricky?

Apple has historically made it difficult to sync contacts from their devices and services to others. While technological politics plays a part in this, some of these restrictions are strictly practical. For example, if you have three different cloud services all syncing back to your address book, you could easily end up with four versions of the same contact. You wouldn't want that, and neither does Apple.

But if you're looking for a really efficient two-way sync between your iPhone and the cloud, there really is no substitute for using Google Contacts. The news is even better for Contactually users; we offer a two-way sync with Google! So rejoice -- by following the three steps below, you'll have all of your iPhone contacts up-to-date at all times, whether you update them on your phone, or inside of Contactually.

OK, let's do it.

Syncing Your iPhone Contacts in 3 Steps:

Step 1:

Make sure that your iPhone is, in fact, syncing your Google Contacts. If you've connected a Gmail or Google Calendar account to your phone, then you can very easily enable this by going to Contacts --> Accounts --> Google. There you'll see a simple switch, which you should flip it to "On", if it isn't already.

If you don't see that option, this means you haven't connected a Google Account to your phone. To learn how to connect one t to your iPhone, please see these detailed instructions from Google.

Step 2:

Once you've set your iPhone to sync with Google Contacts, your Google account will send contacts to your phone. However, if you go to add a contact on your phone, you won't necessarily be adding it to your Google Contacts set of contacts on your phone. This is the "two-way-sync" problem I mentioned earlier.

Remember that "something" that you're unknowingly adding your contacts to? That's the default contacts group on your iPhone. For this sync to be simple, easy, and harmonious across all devices (and, potentially, your Contactually account), we'll want to set that default grouping to be Google Contacts. (In the picture here, the default account is iCloud.)

Step 3:

At this point, we've set up a sync on your iPhone both from Google Contacts and to Google Contacts. Now, we just want to tidy things up and make sure that all your iPhone's contacts are in Google Contacts. You can easily do this by following the instructions below, taken from Google's Support Site:

"Existing contacts should be imported into Google contacts. If your contacts are stored on an Apple device, you can transfer your contacts using vCard files. If your contacts are stored with another provider, first export your contacts and then import your contacts into Gmail."

That's it! You now have a slick two-way sync between your iPhone, and your preferred Google Account. Congratulations! The great news is that almost every device and piece of software out there plays nicely with Google, so you can set up two-way syncs between Google Contacts and just about anything else. Like, say... Contactually.

When you connect your Gmail, we'll automatically sync all of your Google Contacts to your Contactually account. To set up full, two-way sync in Contactually:

    • Go to Settings & Apps, and connect your Google Account there.

    • Click on "Settings," and specify which buckets you want to sync back to your Google Contacts.

Now, any time you either add or update a contact in one of those buckets, that contact information will get synced to your Google Contacts account, and from there, directly to your iPhone. So how does timing work between Contactually and Google? Good question. The answer is quite simple: syncing contacts from Contactually to Google is nearly instantaneous. Synching contacts the other way -- from Google to Contactually -- usually takes about an hour or two.

So whether you're a Contactually user or not, with this two-way sync, you can rest assured that you'll have all of your contacts -- up-to-date -- in the places that matter most. Now go forth and be organized!