Thursday, August 20, 2009

Uploading your contacts into Gmail or GApps and synchronizing with the iPhone

I recently spent a great deal of time uploading all my contacts into Gmail Contacts and then trying to get those contacts to sync cleanly with my iPhone's contacts using Google Sync . To my chagrin I learned that although both these mechanisms work very well, there are some significant stumbling blocks when using them together. The first important thing to note is that not all of the fields that are in Dave's terrific .csv file will sync to the iPhone. Here is a shot of all the fields loaded with test data uploaded to Gmail. Pretty, right? Not shown because it didn't fit in the screenshot is the "Notes" field at the bottom but that worked fine. The fields "Section 1 - Other" and "Section 2 - Other" Show up as "Other" and "Home" respectively, toward the bottom of the contact; a little odd but dealable.

When you go ahead and set up the Sync with the iPhone, that's when you run into problems. None of the Section 1 Phone number fields will sync with the iPhone. Section 2 fields: "Home," "Home Fax," "Mobile," and "Pager" sync up just fine. The fields "Section 2 - Company," "Section 2 - Title" and "Section 2 - Other" will also fail to sync.

After a GREAT DEAL of trial and error, I have come up with one significant improvement. If you replace the Section 1 - Description with "Work" (don't use the quotes) you will get two more fields on your iPhone; "Section 1 - Phone" and "Section 1 - Fax" will sync to the iPhone as "Work" and"Work Fax" respectively. Those Section Descriptions are REALLY important. They must be on every line of the .csv, spelled correctly and the first letter must be capitalized or they just don't work.

So to recap: Use this .csv file. Change the Section 1 - Description from "Other" to "Work" (again don't use the quotes). Do not use the following fields: "Section 1 - Mobile," "Section 1 - Pager," "Section 1 - Other," "Section 2 - Company," Section 2 - Title," "Section 2 - Other." (Possibly these columns could be removed from the template, but I haven't tested this).

Just as a side note, if you have contact records that contain a "Company Name" but no "Name" field, Gmail will not import those. Copy the contents of the "Company Name" field into the "Name" field and you're good.

Once you've done this though, it really rocks. BUT: don't forget to occasionally use the Gmail export function to backup your contacts to a csv file. Although it feels like you're backed up because it's on your iPhone and on Gmail, the truth is if something is accidentally deleted from Gmail or if something should go terribly, terribly wrong over at the big G, your sync'ed iPhone contacts can disappear in a twinkling of an eye.

If anyone wants to take this info and make it into a super user-friendly tutorial, they should feel entirely free, I just don't have the time just now :)


Blogger Philip Hulme said...

I came across your blog after wasting many hours cursing Google as I unsuccessfully uploaded a variety of CSV files into Google Contacts.

I have created an Excel worksheet (CSV format) from your download and instructions.

Noticed that ADDRESS is just one column. Does this mean that commonly formatted files with Address1, Address2, City, State, Zip need to be concatenated?

What about being able to have a WORK and HOME address?

Really can't believe the nerds at Google can map the globe but can't provide a simple mapping tool to import fields into an address book!!

1/09/2010 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger Corgi, Dr. of Ursinity, Prattling Pasha of Positivism said...

With the caveat that my posting was from back in August and I haven't done it recently, yes ADDRESS is one field. Concatenate all the address stuff together. I believe that Work Address and Home Address both work, but I'm not sure. Do a one line test. As long as you remember to put a distinct label on each test import, you can pretty easily back out any tests. The thing is that import into gmail works ok, and gmail sync with iPhone works OK, but when you put it all together that's when the weirdness appears. Good luck! Let me know how you fare.

1/09/2010 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Hi - I too am aggravated :( with contact imports into Gmail on my Motorola Droid but this looks promising:

Here is the the tinyurl for brevity's sake:

1/14/2010 11:35:00 PM  

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