More on transferring contacts from your BlackBerry to your new smartphone

How to use Google as your universal contact courier between phones

What keeps people on the BlackBerry platform? The feel of the keyboard, sure. BlackBerry Messenger, maybe. But in some cases, based on email and comments received at ITWorld, another answer can be summed up as “I really don’t want to transfer all my contacts over.” SO a little while back, I wrote up a post on transferring contacts from a BlackBerry to iPhone or Android.

The “trick,” such as it was, involved syncing your BlackBerry to Google’s contacts server, then syncing those Google contacts to your new phone, which is almost always an option on any newer smartphone. That’s the method I prefer for transferring contacts between any two phones; it just happens that Google makes a BlackBerry sync client that makes the process pretty easy. But a few questions have popped up in the comments and replies to that post, and I thought I’d address them here, rather than in comments that require lots of scrolling:

But I don’t have a Google/Gmail address--I’m a MobileMe/Hotmail/Yahoo user. Will this still work?

Absolutely. The idea is to just use Google’s servers as a go-between for your contacts. You’ll sign up with a Google account to use it, but when the contacts arrive on your phone, they’re available for use by whatever email service you prefer to use.

Ugh, duplicates. Everybody I know is listed twice.

Hey, I hear you. I just checked Google Contacts myself, and I had 93 duplicate contacts listed. How did I find them? By heading to, then clicking the “More” button on top of the contact list. You’ll get a pop-up window that shows every contact that Google thinks is a duplicate, based on the name or email address. After reviewing the duplicates and merging them, wait for your phone to sync with Google once more, and you should see a decided lack of clones.

Merging duplicates in Google Contacts

You can also possibly cut Google off from ever picking up those duplicates by opening your BlackBerry’s contact folder and choosing not to allow duplicate names in the options, as detailed by a Lifehacker commenter.

Some of my contacts didn’t make it over to Google Contacts. What’s the deal?

One important thing to check is which Contacts groups your new phone is syncing. There are at least four major Google Contacts groups: “All Contacts” (which has everyone, including anybody you’ve emailed just once), “My Contacts” (a tricky curated list of people you seem to reach out to regularly), “Friends/Family/Coworkers” (three separate groups, but all meant to be convenient for you), and groups that you create on your own, which have whatever name you’d like. On Android, in particular, you should open your contacts app (dubbed “People” on some phones), then press the Menu button to see about syncing only those contact groups you need and are sure are lined up correctly. Which brings us to our catch-all option:

Some of my contacts came over, but not all of them, and some are wrong, and maybe some duplicates, and, also, I need to add some from my Outlook client. What’s the solution?

Go nuclear. That is, use the nuclear option of exporting all the contacts you need to fix up to a CSV file, then import them into a spreadsheet. Every phone and app and service should allow you to export your contacts to a CSV format, and if they don’t, you should question why. After exporting to a CSV, open it up in a spreadsheet application, and make sure you set the import option to separate cells by comma. Now you can add, cut, and tweak your contacts without annoying prompts and redundant clicks and taps.

Contacts exported to CSV for editing in spreadsheet

When you’re done, export the spredsheet back out to CSV format (using “Save as” from the file menu). Now, head to Google Contacts, and export your as-is contact list to Google CSV format (again, from the “More” menu). At this point, you can wipe out all your Google Contacts and replace them with your hand-crafted CSV file from your spreadsheet work. If it doesn’t import well, you’ve got the backup and can give it another go. But, generally, you’ll find that you’ve got your contacts fixed, and you can see those changes reflected in your Google account and on your phone.

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