How to digitise your contacts

How to digitise your contacts

Digitise your contacts so you don't have to transfer them manually to your new phone.

When you buy a new phone, the biggest hassle is transferring your contacts and other data to it. It is an even bigger problem if you are also switching operating systems. I know people who have spent hours writing down all the numbers in their old phones and then entering them into the new phone. This is why our contacts have to be in sync with the times, quite literally.

To begin with, start backing up the contacts on your phone to a cloud account. No, you don't have to buy an account or sign up for a service for this. Just back up your contacts to your Gmail account, for instance. Now all you have to do on your new phone is add this account and press sync for the contacts to be populated. Most new smartphones have this option. Backing up to the cloud makes even more sense as with this you can have the same contacts on multiple devices and even access them directly from a PC. Plus, with device cycles coming down to as little as six months, many of us will be changing phones at short intervals.

Nandagopal Rajan
Nandagopal Rajan
You cannot possibly sit down and re-enter your long list of contacts into your new device every six months. If your contacts are in Outlook, or a phone that cannot be synced online, just export them in a .CSV or vCard format that can be loaded to your Google or iCloud contacts.

While this may sound complicated, it is actually quite easy to execute. And along with the cloud it is always better to back up your smartphone with a PC at regular intervals. This way you will have an easily retrievable digital back-up of your contacts as well as a record of your emails and SMSes. All platforms offer apps, both free and paid, that let you back up contacts on the phone to a cloud account which can then be transferred to Gmail or iCloud.

For those of us who have thousands of contacts on our phones, it is only natural to end up with a lot of duplicates and ghosts - or incomplete contact information - over the years. Now, apps let you find and eliminate duplicates. Some even merge multiple contacts into one, which is especially useful if you have saved a person's phone number, address and email id in separate entries. I recently used Contact Duster Pro and found that about 30 per cent of my contacts were duplicates. However, while the free apps will show how many doubles you have, the actual cleaning up takes place only when you upgrade to a paid version.

Those struggling to maintain a clean contact book on the phone also tend to struggle with a lot of physical business cards in office drawers and files. Often, you are unable to find a business card when you need it. This is why it makes sense to digitise all contacts, or keep just digital contact information.

As soon as someone gives you his/her business card, pull out your phone and click a photo of the same. It is better if you use apps like Evernote Hello or CamCard that read the text on the picture and enter the same into your phone's contact book. Hello goes a step ahead and links the new contact to its LinkedIn account.

There is LinkedIn's own CardMunch that does this job much better, but it is strangely not available in India. But don't be overconfident while using these apps. Since they use text recognition, you need to be careful and double check that the app has read all the info on the card correctly. Choose a card scanner app that backs up to a cloud account you can access from beyond the mobile device too.

Digital contact cards are, undoubtedly, the future. So much so that many cards now come with QR codes that give all the information needed about the contact, while also offering a portal to your online identity or website. In this digital age, a business card that carries just a name and a QR code is good enough. Even that can be avoided with technology such as Near Field Communication, which can transfer the contact-related information digitally from one phone to another by just tapping the two devices against each other.