My friend (and occasional writer for Means I/O ) Raphaël JR has a newsletter in which he recently wrote about cleaning up your Google contact list by deleting old and unnecessary entries.SummaryHide your excess contacts Hide a single contactHide multiple contactsExport and delete your excess contacts
What a great idea, I thought. Corn.
Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a collector when it comes to contacts. After years as a tech reporter, I have umpteen professional contact lists, many of which are completely outdated. But while it's likely that many of these people have moved to different companies and different email addresses, I think I should keep the entries - what if I ran into them at some point and wanted to check from where I knew them? Or if they're still working on it even though it's been several years and I want to say hello?
There is another reason why I am reluctant to delete certain contacts – an unfortunate one. Over the years, my contact list began to include friends and relatives who are no longer with us – and I find myself loath to remove those names from my list. It's not logical or reasonable, but to me it feels like some kind of rejection. In 2015, in an article titled “My Digital Graveyard,” New York Times Writer Rob Walker put it this way:"The practical act by design of removing a dead friend's name with a simple tap or click can feel like you're openly participating in removing that person from the world. . »
The result of all of this is a Google contact list that contains several hundred names, many of which belong to people I haven't contacted in a long time, or just don't want delete entries. What to do?
I've found several ways to tidy up Google Contacts without permanently losing people's names, numbers, and other information. Here they are:
Google has a weird way of removing names from your main contact list:you "hide" them. I put "hide" in quotes because what you're essentially doing is moving this entry from your main contact list to an "Other Contacts" list.
"Other Contacts" contains entries for all the different people you have emailed to or received from. For this reason, it can be a huge list – but since it's usually not visible, if you move your old contacts there, they won't clutter up your main contact list.
You can find your "Other contacts" on the desktop version of Google Contacts at the bottom of the left list of labels. (On the mobile version of Contacts, you can't see your "Other Contacts" list, but if you search for a specific contact that's in that list, they'll show up in this search.)
Here's how to move one or more contacts to the "Other Contacts" list using the Google Contacts web app:
Incidentally, if your "Other Contacts" list is too big on its own, you can prevent Gmail from adding names to it every time you send or receive an email.
If you really want to clean up your contact list, but don't want to lose contact information, you can export it to a separate CSV or vCard file. Once they are safely stored, you can delete them from your Google Contacts list.
If you're like me, you probably have more excess contacts than you'd like to deal with in a single session. So here's how I found to handle it. (Again, this uses the web interface for Google Contacts).
Now you've cleaned up (at least somewhat) your contact list – and all the contacts you still wanted to keep are safe in another file where you can find them if you ever have them need.