Open Thread: How Do You Manage Your Contacts?


According to The Wall Street Journal, plenty of people still use a Rolodex to manage their contacts’ name and address data:

More than 20 years after the digital revolution that forecasted the paperless office, the “rotary card file” — best known by the market-leading brand name, Rolodex — continues to turn. As millions of social-network users display their connectedness on their Facebook pages, a surprisingly robust group of people maintain their networks on small white cards. Most of these devotees also rely on BlackBerrys and other computer-based address books. [subscription required]

There are so many ways to manage names, addresses, and phone numbers. Outlook. Blackberry. Plaxo. Highrise. Rolodex. Paper address book.

I use a box of index cards for offline contacts — the plumber, piano teacher, and pediatrician for example — so I can staple business cards onto the index cards then file. I mostly use Gmail otherwise and have a few phone numbers programmed into my cell phone. It’s not fancy, but it’s good enough for my current needs.

How do you manage contacts? Do you maintain a master contact list, synchronized across devices? Or is your contact data distributed across multiple devices and formats?



I personally use Outlook so I can sync my contacts (and calendar) with my Nokia N80.
And at the moment I am helping a small business organizing their contacts, but I am still looking for the right solution. They want to have the same database available in Outlook for email and in Excel for invoicing. Guess there is no other, simple way than using a Access database for that…

J Bell

I use Outlook at both home and at the office. I have a T3 Palm with KeySuite to keep it all together :-)
Works for me!

Jason Tremblay

I use Mac’s Address book and I use OnSync to sync the data to my phone. Using the Mac Address book makes it easy to take advantage of other desktop apps that access the same data (like Mail or Billable).

Jon Moss

Address Book and iPhone for everything, plus the superb Highrise for business stuff. It really is invaluable – very handy to have everything you have said, emailed, sent etc on one page for a contact :-)


I don’t know if it’s new, but I think it is:

Accessing Gmail on my phone now has a link to call my contact if I got their phone number in my contact book.

Pretty nifty. Already used it to make a call to my friend about a side project, after reading his email on my phone.

Chris Brogan...

Your database is king. So, I have a CSV file as a baseline with the proper contact info. I feed that by way of LinkedIN and Gmail, which act as collectors for new stuff. From there, I use a deduping script to kill the duplicates (it never clearly works), and then I throw a copy of all that into Apple Mail to sync with my BlackBerry Curve.

I give GMAIL my full list as well, so that I have parity between platforms.

A little extra work, but I’ve got it all fairly quick, and again, the basic CSV file opened in Outlook (or google docs) works just fine for searching via Searchlight.

(Book chores must be almost done. You’re back on the case.) : )

Cathy Moore

I use Highrise for business contacts, Apple Address Book for the rest. Highrise won me over because I can just forward an email to it and it attaches it to the right person or creates a new person if necessary. I tried two other contact management systems before and they both failed because I wouldn’t manually update them.

I also like the fact that I can add free-form notes, attach files, and ramble on at great length about a contact without jumping through hoops.

Chris M Johnson

GMail does the trick for me. Although, most of my communication is done through email, so it is a no-brainer to just let GMail handle it all.

Daniel Bachhuber

It’s all about the Apple Address Book. I nearly sh** my pants when Apple announced the iPhone because, for me, one of the greatest things is being able to sync and backup my contacts. Re-typing everyones’ home address can get repetitive.

Gmail is good for autocomplete, but Google’s lack of a good contact UI/ lack of syncing across platforms makes worthless in actually trying to manage data.


I usually use Outlook, mostly because it’s the best solution in terms of keeping my information current from my laptop to my Windows Mobile device.

For work, I don’t do a lot of contacting others (it has to go through a central area when we contact people outside our command usually) but I do have a healthy collection of business cards in the seat organizer to my car at work.


Been exporting/importing between GMail and Thunderbird.
I’m still waiting for a decent GMail-Thunderbird synchronization solution. It’s coming.

Sam Hiser

I use address-completion in Gmail for e-mail and the numbers in the SIM of my cell phone.

For addresses and important longer-form stuff and memos-to-self, I use Gmail e-mail.


I manage my contacts using a Treo 750, Outlook, and an Exchange server to keep everything synced.


when i had a windows mobile device, it was keeping my live contacts up to date and then letting it sync with windows mobile sync, previously syncing with exchange as well. Now with the iPhone, I maintain the list in Mac Address Book, sync with plaxo, sync my phone with the mac, sync plaxo with AOL, Yahoo, and Windows Live Mail (crappy – Gmail doesnt have auto sync – no API). Some of the fields dont match up perfectly across but I have found it to be the best so far…

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