Contacts to Google

One of the best aspects about Android is its integration with the cloud. When setting up a new Android device, all you need is a Gmail address and your Contacts, Gmail, texts (if you use Google Voice), Calendar and Docs will automatically be available to you without having to plug the device in first. It also comes in handy if for some reason your phone fails as your data will be safe and secure on Google’s servers. No matter what happens with your device, you will always be able to access, manage and move your contacts at Google.com/Contacts.

If you’re using a pure Android device like the Nexus One or Nexus S, this tip won’t apply because all of the contacts that you save automatically sync to Google. However, many of the skinned phones save contacts to the device by default, which means that they’re not syncing up with Google’s servers. We’ll go through the three main skins: Sense, Touchwiz and Motoblur and point out how to save contacts to Google rather than on the device.

What’s the benefit of saving to your Google account rather than your device? Your device will show you all of your Google Contacts as long as your Google account is synced. But if your contacts are saved to your device, they will not show up in Google.com/Contacts. As mentioned above, it really saves a lot of time and effort when you eventually get a new device or are forced to if something happened to your old one.

Samsung’s Touchwiz (pictured above): Samsung’s contact application is simply called Contacts and has an orange icon. When you go into the application and click the plus sign to add a new contact, normally by default you will receive a pop up asking you if you would like to save to the phone or to your Google account. Touchwiz also allows you to remember this choice so you don’t need to do it everytime. If you ever want to change the settings, you can go into the Contacts -> Menu -> More -> Settings, which will allow you to change the Contact settings.

HTC Sense: Unlike Touchwiz, Motoblur or stock Android, HTC’s contact application is called People. When you go into the application and select new contact, the default is set to save to the phone. You’ll have to click on the Contact Type and switch to save to your Google account. I have yet to find a way to change the default to save to Google, so unfortunately you’ll have to do this everytime.

Motoblur: On Motorola’s phones, like Samsung’s, there’s an easy way to ensure that new contacts are always saved to Google. When you go into the Contacts application, go to Menu -> Settings and it'll provide you with your various options to save the contacts to, Google being one of them. 

If you have questions or tips related to saving and managing contacts, come to our General Help Forum.

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Reader comments

Saving your contacts to Google

42 Comments

Or you can just say "Phone!" "Save contacts to Google" . . . in about 10 years...

Anyway. This is one of the best features of Android. Never lose numbers again!... No More "Damn I have to transfer all these numbers to my new phone?"

Hello! When saving a new contact to your phone and you're asked the type "Google or phone?" What are you supposed to do? If I save to Google it isn't recognized by the phone. So now I have several contacts that are saved in both Google and the phone. Is there a way to get around this? Thanks

I have the same problem. And if it syncs to your Facebook you have the contact a third time.

There really should be a way around this on Android devices.

So is better to save them to Google's servers instead of like my SIM card? Hmm, I'm starting to think maybe I should switch it over the Google.

true but im so ocd i pratically shower with my phone. but i do get ur point. thanks for the tip. :-)

Use Local Sync and it integrates with Outlook on your PC. And Google doesn't have your info to share with whomever.

For my HTC EVO, as long as I have my gmail account set to synch contacts, it seems my People app automatically sets to save to google. However, I did not start doing this until after I had some entered already. Does anyone know how to transfer contacts stored on the phone (Evo) to their google account without deleting them and re-entering them?

You will need to open the People app, export contacts to your SD card, transfer that file (.vcf) to your computer, and then import them to Gmail using that file. Easy as pie.

Try this: On your desktop, go to Gmail. Select 'contacts' from the left-side menu. When it loads, looks for an 'Add to "My Contacts"' on the header. Click this button and in the space provided start typing one of your phone contacts. If you've used the contact to send or receive gmail, then it should pop up. Press enter and a new contact card in Gmail will be created. On your phone you may need to go to settings and do a manual synch to see it right away, but it should now show up.

Here's what I did:

Go to your contacts, select "Export" and export to SD.

Now, go back into your contacts, select "Import" and choose "Google" or, in my case, "Corporate(Exchange)" and import. It will not duplicate, and now your contacts will all be syncing.

My Galaxy SII doesn't work quite like this but the following worked:

On phone:
- open contacts
- menu->more->display options
- configure to only display contacts on phone
- back in contacts, menu->import/export/send namecard via
- select all contacts (should only be the ones on your phone)
- send to yourself via email

Then on PC do the following:
https://www.sit.auckland.ac.nz/Outlook:_import_a_vcf_file_with_multiple_...

Then sync your phone and change contact display settings back to what you had.

Why should you have to choose? On my HTC I also have the option to save contacts to the Exchange server. I would like to save contacts to multiple places (Gmail and Exchange) so I have my contacts available everywhere.

With the Google sync alone you can do that.
Who needs to complicate the issue with Exchange?

With everything in Google you can manage them with a web browser from anywhere. And with Google they are YOUR contacts, not your employer's property.

Google Sync can't sync between the Exchange server and Gmail. This means I have to sync using MS Outlook (as I usualy work on clients computers using Outlook Web Access this is not an option).

To have to search for my contacts on my phone or in my Gmail account to copy/paste them into my corporate mail is unnecessary work.

The only device which is always in sync with both Gmail and Exchange is my phone. To me that means it is the logical point to integrate the two.

Really makes you wonder why these skins don't automatically sync with Google, just another form of these companies adding crap we don't need. I learned the hard way that touchwiz contacts don't save to Google, needless to say once I realized I need to save the contacts to Google I was glad there is a default option.

My Evo always asks me if I want to save to Google or to phone when I create a new contact. I just choose Google. It would be nice to have it as a default but it's only one click.

What is needed is tips on how to change your storage location, after you have a ton of contacts stored on the phone and decide to move them to Google.

On Samsung, it was really a mess getting this to work, and emailing them (share contact) was the easiest, but what a pain.

It got easier with the last software update.

When adding a new contact in my Fascinate I have the option to save to Google but how do I save an existing contact to Google? About 60% of my contacts are saved to Google when I go to Google.com/contacts the rest aren't and I cant find any way to send them to Google to be saved.

Wow, I had no idea that all androids didn't just do this automatically. Originally had the G1 and then/now the Nexus One. I guess I'll have to remember this starting Sunday when I get the Sensation. Thanks for the tip!

I'm rolling with a Desire HD. From what I gather you simply go to settings - accounts and syncs - google - check the sync contacts check box and you're hot to trot. I'm thinking that'd be similar across the devices with sense?

Don't forget with Verizon phones you can also choose save to Backup Assistant. I choose this above all, makes life easier to me.

Back when I had my Tilt (WinMo 6) I used to use NuevaSync to sync my Contacts/Mail/Calendar to my Google account. I flashed my phone many a time and as soon as I would get back in, boom, NuevaSync it all to my device and I was up and running again.

This concept is fantastic and I'm way excited it's the norm now.

Aside from importing a file into Gmail directly, is there any way to send existing contacts saved on the phones memory to your Google account? It's one of android's best features, but you would think it'd let you do something as simple as sync existing contacts.

This isn't totally true. When I got my brand spanking new original Droid, Best Buy used an interface box to transfer my existing old Motor Razr contacts to my new Droid. I also had access to my existing Google contacts. Fast forward 11 months later, my O Droid failed and they replaced it. Upon activation, all my Google contacts came back, but none of the numbers transferred from the Razr came back. There didn't seem to be any way to turn these numbers into Google contacts either. They were gone forever.

"If you ever want to change the settings, you can go into the Contacts -> Menu -> More -> Settings, which will allow you to change the Contact settings."

So I follow the instructions here but I get as far as: CONTACTS>MENU>MORE> but there's not settings option....

Does this take you to the ACCOUNTS AND SYNC under the settings menu from the Home screen?

Epic 4g

I don't understand the fascination with cloud based anything. Every major system has been hacked with ease in the past year, Sony is still being hacked. We are years away from being in a cloud based environment if ever. As long as I have a PC, that's where my data will be backed up to.

My problem is that I have two synced Google accounts and I lack consistency in which account I use when I add a new contact. It's probablysplit 50-50 between the two accounts. Also, I imported my contacts saved to SD on accident and so I have double contacts. I just linked them to one contact rather than delete them. I did that before I found an app that made deleting multiple contacts easier. lol

This article needs work. HTC sense always autosyncs contacts with your google account as long as the accounts sync option is enabled. I've never once had to do this crazy stuff you guys are talking about. You guys are just going to cause paranoia with this.

To transfer contacts from to Google: in people go to menu, import/export, export to memory card. Now from people go to menu, import/export and import from memory card. This will import to Google.

As for adding new contacts, I believe it will go straight to Google if you make.phone and SIM contacts not visible. This seems to make.the default Google contacts.

I'm surprised at some of the steps I'm seeing above. I recall getting a pop-up once upon a time asking where to save the new contact, but I don't know how I got rid of it. I just tested, but I also now have 2.3 on my Evo and hadn't added a new contact in awhile.

I find that the last Contact Type I chose to save it to (ie, which google account or even the phone) becomes the default for the next new contact and doesn't require me to answer the question of "which account." It should be noted that if I am going to save to a different Contact Type, I actually have to choose that first. Otherwise, the name I type in disappears and makes me start over with a blank contact. That's very counterintuitive, but it's manageable.
People/..Add New Contact/ ...Choose Contact type/..add a testing name/ Save.
Repeat and you'll see the last contact type is the default for another new one...

My contacts were stored in my phone rather than my Gmail account and somehow they were deleted, is there any possible way to get them back?