It has become very common for all of us to see at least one post on Facebook that says “Lost all contacts, please DM me your numbers,” or “Lost my phone, please text/ping with your numbers again.” We understand that phones have a tendency to get lost, drown, break, stolen, thrown out of windows, get left on the restaurant table, driven over, and generally be victims of extreme misfortune.
And to go further, allow us to be a little lofty with our explanations. The device, like in the human life, is but the body. Thanks to cloud technology, the data, or at least most of it, is like the soul. The body might be broken, but the soul can stay intact. It can easily be ported on to another body. Your address book is just a part of the phone’s soul, and it can transcend physical boundaries of just one device.
Now if you’re done face-palming, let us explain how it all works. Contacts can be saved in both local memory, that is your device’s own storage or on a memory card, and more importantly with services like Google and also iCloud. In fact, if you keep an account synced to a device, you may never have to worry about your contacts getting lost ever again. If you lose your device or some other misfortune befalls upon it, you can just sign into a new device with your credentials and your contacts will get synced.
So, to save yourself from the aforementioned Facebook post, you must follow these steps to sync your contacts on various platforms.
Make a local copy
On an Android phone, you can simply go to contacts, look into contact settings, and look for the export option. You can export all the contacts on to your phone’s local memory (or microSD card) and save it in a CSV (comma-separated values) or VCF (vCard files) format. Next you can transfer the file to a laptop (for convenience) via a cable or by emailing it to yourself. Your contacts are now ready to be imported into iCloud, Outlook or Google.
Upon syncing, make sure you sign into any new devices with the same Gmail, iCloud or Outlook account. Having the contact cards synced will make sure that your account always has all the latest contacts that you have saved.
Sync with Google/Gmail
If you have always been saving your contacts on your device and have never synced it with Google, there’s no need to worry. Every smartphone supports the option to sync contacts.
Make sure that you’ve signed into the smartphone with a Gmail account that you use often, and not some obscure account that you used only to sign in for the heck of it. You’ll have to fish around in your settings, or in your contacts options, to see how you can turn sync on.
Once it is turned on, make sure that your phone has an active internet connection (WiFi is preferred) and then use a browser to open contacts.google.com. Sign into this using the same Google/Gmail account that you’ve used to log into your smartphone. If the sync has been initiated by your device, you will start seeing your contacts on the page.
If that doesn’t work, then just upload your local copy of contact files into contacts.google.com. Look for the import button, and follow the instructions.
If you’ve just gotten yourself an iPhone, and would like to transfer your contacts to the iOS platform, there are a few ways of making sure your contacts end up on your iPhone.
First, create an iCloud account. Use that iCloud account to setup and initiate your iPhone. If you’ve already done that, then just head over to the iCloud website, log in, and go to Contacts. On the bottom left corner, you can find a little tool button – once you click on that, you’ll get the option to import the entire address book in VCF format. You can upload either a local copy of the contacts from your old phone, or the VCF file that you have exported from your Google account.
Alternatively, on an iPhone, you can also simply sign into the Gmail app using your Google account which has all your contacts, and you can select what all to sync, which includes contacts. Once you’ve done that, just go to Settings, tap on Contacts, and you’ll be able to choose which accounts you need to sync for contacts. If you change your default account to Gmail, the iPhone/iPad will continue saving all new contact cards to the Gmail account.
While many people do not use Windows Phone any more, a lot of us use Outlook accounts (mostly because of work, and some by natural preference). Outlook is great for work accounts, and if you have a desktop Outlook client which you use to sign into a work phone too, it’s a good idea to keep your address book synced there too. Alternatively, you can also sign into any new device using an Outlook account if you do not prefer using Gmail as your primary email application.
The procedure is very simple – just open Outlook, look for the People option in the bottom left corner, and then click on Manage, which should be in the top panel. Under that, click on import and save the VCF or CSV file that you may have kept in your local storage, or exported from any other service.