Syncing Contacts on the iPhone, Gmail, Outlook

Accumulated information has a way of overwhelming our personal and business silos.  Nonetheless, there comes a time in the course of human events to try and put things right. I wanted my contacts in the cloud AND (pause), I wanted to keep my category data from Outlook.

I didn’t want to add the $5/month that Google Apps charges since my contact usage is a little down these days – even though it’s probably reasonable.  Google Apps is probably the solution here – and many companies have gone there as part of a migration from Outlook centered everything.   I found some free solutions – but they were leaving pieces out or short of a longer term solution.  After some research, I ponied up $20 for gSyncit.

Contact management history:

  1. Used Act! contact manager w/ my Palm / Handspring devices ’99-’06.
  2. Moved to Outlook Business Contact Manager (BCM) during a computer upgrade.
  3. Adopted Google, Gmail, iPhone, iCloud and a bunch of other services along the way.
  4. Crashed BCM and don’t want to bother reinstalling – moving to the cloud!
  5. Want to use Google as my source, but not pay a monthly.

Here’s how:

Prior, I had exported my BCM contacts so they could be available in regular Outlook contacts – which was the clearly the beginning of the end.  Redundant data kills!

1. Established Gmail contacts – had a few in there already.

2.  Backed up data.  took their advice on backing up all contact data on both ends (gMail and Outlook), before proceeding and while I worked the kinks out of the sync process.  Syncing is ugly – and no matter what they say, it rarely yields perfect results – and even rarer – on the first try.  I exported Gmail contacts to a .csv.  Google also has a great feature that let’s your restore your contacts by the minute,:

Outlook back up has many backup variants – but I just went to the .pst file that holds everything and copied it.

3. The gSyncit has lots of config options, and frankly I’m not certain I chose the optimal – so, a little research here might do the trick for you.  I wanted to use Gmail as my “master” which probably breaks ties when syncing gets hairy.

This all worked remarkably well.  I had some other data I wanted to merge, and Google’s merge contacts did a great job on that as well.  On the other hand, importing data into Google from a raw  .csv file is pretty unwieldy – don’t assume that will go smoothly.

Other notes:

  • I have an iCloud data file in .pst form as well, that created outrageous duplicate issues – and I didn’t take the time to weed them all and configure it properly, but if i did – I could get iCloud synced here as well.