Why Not Get Your Contacts Sorted?

Only the other day I went to call my parents and realised that their landline number was listed as ‘mobile’, this led me down a path of irritating discovery; my address book is not as complete, or accurate, as it should be. My first response was a frustrated exhale and a shrugging of the shoulders. This can wait. I’ll probably have to enter this information again in a year or two…

Then it came to me. The truth is that it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll move away from an Apple-centric set of devices in the next few years. In fact, I can see myself sticking with the Cupertino clan for at least the next decade or two!

I’m here to encourage you, it’s worth getting it organised now – dive in and learn why it’s about time you got your contacts sorted!

The Basics

The simple fact is that many people reading this won’t need to do a thing, they’re much more organised than I am and have everything just where it’s supposed to be. If that’s you, then stop reading, and go back to alphabetising your recycling…

Everyone else, let’s start with the basics.

Love that skeuomorphism...

I’ll start by saying that this is all lot more fun on your iPad, the bigger screen giving you a clearer picture of your address book as a whole and making typing that much more effortless.

Step 1: Names & Numbers

Open it up and get the names sorted. Give people last names, it’s the least they deserve, and remove any monikers you may have thought were hilarious at the time – “Hedgerow Gary” and “The Amazing Spider Dan” just won’t do.

Organise the numbers. Give them the correct label, work for work, home for home, etc. Remove numbers that aren’t current and try to make the list as complete as possible.

As you go through, feel free to make editorial decisions and cut people. If you wouldn’t say ‘Hi’ to them in the street, then it’s safe to say they don’t belong (the exception being people who have awesome holiday homes/may potentially be famous at some point in the future).

Step 2: Email

Numbers are great, but for a great deal of our 21st century communication it’s vital to have email our friends email addresses. Get in as many of those as you can muster! If you use an email client, such as postbox, check to see if it has a separate address book in which it has helpfully been harvesting every possible email address – you may just be in luck!

Let iCloud do the hard work!

To make this exercise more enjoyable, secretly judge people based on their current email address. Laugh at [email protected], cringe at [email protected], sigh in desperation at [email protected]

Step 3: Extras

Let’s talk about extras. There are a huge number of possible details that you can add to your contacts to fill them out and make them super-impressive, but what should you spend the time adding?


When it comes to photos, it’s a real pain going through and finding decent shots of everyone – even in the days of the all-powerful Facebook. I’d choose the people you actually call on a regular basis and add their photos, but maybe leave the rest. I assume you know what they look like anyway, if you don’t I’d think again about their inclusion.


There’s an amusing irony in calling your contact list an address book when it contains a rather meagre offering of actual addresses. The reality is, however, that posting things (particularly letters) is becoming less frequent. Amazon needs to know where you live, but you don’t need to know where your friends do.

Despite this, the nostalgic among us like to try and keep track – even if it’s only so you know where to turn up when backpacking across the country! I’d advise adding all the addresses you can, particularly those of relatives that you’ll eventually need to visit…

Addresses are also great for use with Siri (which we’ll have on our iPads any day now?), maybe add a few of your local shops and hotspots and try out some geo-fencing.

Other Details

Adding extra fields.

Most of these are unnecessary but occasionally useful. I’d recommend adding all of the birthdays that you need to remember, there’s no harm in having these magically appear on your calendar!

Adding particular related people, such as designating your brother as your brother, can make using Siri look that much more clever, but that’s about it.

Feel Great!

Well done, you’ve just set your calendar up and got yourself sorted. Let iCloud do the legwork and make all of your contact lists the same. Revel in the joy of organisation for the next decade, but don’t forget to keep it up-to-date…

Your Thoughts

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts – simply post a comment below! Is your contact list beautifully organised, or an abominable mess?

  • MacChap

    Great post. Just the inspiration I needed to get my address under control. For me the first step is to delete contacts. I have abuse 600 contacts and I have absolutely no idea who most of them are. At some point I synced my contacts to the compan directory of the firm I worked for 4 years ago. It’s time to cut the cord and let go!

    I’m using Bento on the iPad to do this. It’s a bit tedious having to click on each name to include people in a delete batch, but much easier than using contacts to do it.

  • http://www.hanskfroschauer.com Hans K. Froschauer

    I’m almost autistic about correct entries in my addressbook, as well as having as much info on people as possible. Once in a while I use an iPhone app called SmartSync, which adds all available data from peoples Facebook profile to my addressbook – photos, birthdays, phone-numbers, and whatever else it can find.

    Of course I go through my contacts after that, makin sure everything is formatted according to my preferences. But all in all I like the app to ‘harvest’ contact-info 😉

  • http://www.italyweddings.com Ben Singleton

    100% agree. Mine is a mess, and there never seems to be a good time to sort it out, but I know there are advantages of having all that information in place. Just need a couple of days vacation to do it…

  • Don

    Great idea ! I’ve done that today, looks way better and works like a charm with Siri. Thanks

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