This week we've focused on creating a single, giant pool of contacts. First, we combined your Web-mail address book
and the random numbers stashed on your cell phone. Then, we freed your friends' photos, e-mail addresses and phone numbers
from the evil clutches of Facebook. Now, you've got a comprehensive database of hundreds of contacts. Your mother is in your address book 13 times, your girlfriend is listed thrice, and you even have six of your own accounts in the data pile! After the break, we'll help you clean up your address book, and take one more step towards contact-management bliss.
The first step in cleaning up your contacts is merging and removing duplicate entries. Now, if you had to do this manually, it would be an incredibly daunting task. Thankfully, most modern e-mail clients, even the Web-based ones, have automated duplicate detection. In Gmail, you'll find the option in the 'more actions' drop-down menu in the Contacts pane. In Live Hotmail, you'll find a 'clean up contacts' tool in the Manage drop-down menu on the Contacts page. The 'fix duplicate entries' tool is much more prominently displayed in Yahoo; you'll spot it right away in the reading pane when you open your contacts.
Unfortunately, duplicate detection can't fix everything. Some work will require manual labor. Take a quick look through your contacts for orphaned e-mail addresses or misspelled names. If you can't match the e-mail with a name, delete it, fix any garbled names, and re-run the duplicate address detection tool. This won't solve everything; you'll probably still find a few old phone numbers if you really dig deep, but your collection of contact info should now be streamlined and manageable.