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How Mac experts deal with their contacts

Lex Friedman | Jan. 17, 2014
Used to be, people maintained literal personal phonebooks. Books into which they scrawled the names, numbers, and addresses of their friends and family members. Those were dark times.

Used to be, people maintained literal personal phonebooks. Books into which they scrawled the names, numbers, and addresses of their friends and family members. Those were dark times.

In 2014, there's no need for such old-fashioned foofaraw. Your Mac and iOS devices can sync all your contacts for you, and store more data than those books of yore could have handled even if you wrote with the sharpest of number two pencils. There are plenty of ways to deal with your contacts' information, so which method do you choose?

I spoke with Apple experts Glenn Fleishman, John Moltz, Jaimee Newberry, David Sparks, and Marco Tabini about how they organize their contacts. The upshot: No one's thrilled with how they organize that Rolodexical data, but there are numerous approaches that work "well enough."

How they sync contacts
Making sure that you can access every address in your address book on all your devices is a top priority for contact management. Syncing contacts is a big deal.

You have options: For example, you can use iCloud to sync contacts between Apple devices (iPhones, Macs, iPads) or you can use services like Google.

Each of the five experts I spoke to uses iCloud for contact syncing; I'm the lone outlier who relies on Google's syncing instead. But the reliance on iCloud, at least on occasion, seems at best unenthusiastic:

Macworld senior contributor Glenn Fleishman said his dependence on iCloud "is stupid of me, as I shouldn't trust it." But another contributor, Marco Tabini, said that "so far, iCloud does an admirable job of keeping everything in sync and safe from loss."

Macworld contributor and cohost of the Mac Power Users podcast David Sparks sticks with iCloud because "Microsoft Exchange has been a little more spotty. I think part of my hang-up is I remember how terrible contact syncing was back in the Palm Pilot days. That platform used to randomly make multiple copies of contacts with no rhyme or reason." When Sparks runs into trouble now, he uses the $5 app Contacts Cleaner to eliminate duplicates and fix other issues.

How they organize their contacts
For organizing their contacts, every Mac expert I spoke to relies on Apple's own Contacts apps on the Mac and iOS. Again, I'm the lone outlier, clinging to Google's (horrendous) contact-management tools on the Web — mostly due to inertia: I started using Google's contact management before iCloud existed, and I just haven't taken the time to switch.

 

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