Hitting the Reset Button on my Address Book Contacts

This is by no means a brag – more of an embarrassing admission — that up until yesterday I was in the 9,000+ range of contacts in my address book.

It was years in the making, starting with Eudora (I still miss that app), then Outlook Express, Outlook, and then some Google/Plaxo/BlackBerry sync magic, Linkedin imports, iPhone contacts, etc — all resulting in a messy address book with lots of dupes, out of date contacts, and bloat. I would guess maybe 1/4 were actually accurate, if that.

Along the way I tried a bunch of “scrubbers” and ran Google’s find & delete — which only served to create more of a mess.

Then while watching a video stream of the Le Web conference (or maybe it was another conference) in the summer of 2011, I saw a presentation for Evercontact (fma Write.That.Name) which looked pretty interesting.

It worked by connected to your gmail/Google Apps email and based on the data in the signatures of inbound emails, would update your contacts in google contacts with the new info. So I switched to using Google’s contacts manager as the canonical source of all my contacts, and during the course of that last year+ it has updated hundreds of contacts and kept things up to date.

But what I starting noticing over time was that my iPhone apps that needed to use my address book were either super slow or crashing completely. Auto complete in the gmail app was painfully slow to the point of being a problem.

So yesterday I did a quick backup of all my contacts, and then went to delete everything !

What I found actually was that Google only allows you to delete 250 at a time. It does that pretty quickly, but if you want to delete more, you can actually use their old v1 interface which allows you to delete many more at once:

After erasing them all, I imported in only the ones that Write.that.Name had updated, and I’m now using their Flashback tool to scan prior emails for other contacts.

Next, I’m testing Rainmaker, which looks to complete other relevant contact info for your contacts based on your Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.

I must say, it’s like a good spring cleaning, and obviously these days between Facebook, people’s blogs, Twitter, Linkedin, etc — it’s pretty easy to reach people even if they aren’t in your address book.

UPDATE: A couple of years in, and I’m super happy with Evercontact. I get these moments when a call comes in and my phone already recognizes them because Evercontact added it to my address book automatically. Magical!