I just got my Samsung Galaxy S3 (Android 4.1.1) and I'm having the usual trouble with ridiculous amounts of duplicate contacts. I've tried the following methods to no avail:

  • My mom told me to go to Contacts, and click "Merge with Google" in the menu. It had me add a Google account and was able to remove some of the duplicates, but many still have 5-6 for a single contact. My mom said the whole thing would be ruined if I repeated the process.

  • I've been checking online, and I found similar questions here where the answer boils down to clicking "Find & Merge Duplicates..." on contacts.google.com. I tried it, and it claimed to merge four contacts. I still have many duplicates.

  • I tried to manually join some contacts a couple of ways:

    • Go to Contacts, click the contact to open more details, click the link icon under the Connection heading, tap "Join another contact," select another contact

    • Go to Contacts, click the contact to open more details, open the menu, select "Join contact," select another contact

    • Go to Contact, press and hold the contact, select "Join contact," select another contact

    • Go to Contacts, click the contact to open more details, open the menu, select "Edit," click the menu key

    For the first three methods, the phone flashed a message that said "Contacts joined." The contacts were not joined. The last one would not allow me to open the menu.

Is there another method that I'm supposed to use to merge my contacts? Did I do one of the above methods wrong?

I worry that my beautiful new phone is broken because joining contacts didn't work and it refuses to sync contacts with my google account :(

6 Answers 6


There are two types of contacts on your android phone. GMAIL contacts and PHONE contacts. You must decide which ones you are going to use, but you can't use them both (or you will get duplicates).

If you choose to use your PHONE contacts turn off google contact syncing and delete them from the phone. PHONE contacts do NOT sync. You may be getting multiple duplicates from turning on and off syncing. Once you turn off syncing all your current google contacts on the phone may become PHONE contacts. (I am not going to test this theory on my phone).

If you choose to use GMAIL contacts delete all PHONE contacts and make all your changes in gmail.

When you make a new or save a new contact on your phone the first choice is the type of contact you are making (GMAIL or PHONE). I have an EVO and you might have a newer version of android, but in my PEOPLE app when I open a contact it says what kind of contact it is.

I know I didn't describe any steps here, but seems to me you are missing the theory of how contacts with gmail and android work together.

I hope this helps.

EDIT: Your GMAIL contacts must be in the "My Contacts" group to sync or a custom group below that. "Other contacts" will not sync. EVERY email you send/receive from a new contact ads that contact into "Other contacts" by default.

  • How do I tell which contacts are gmail contacts and which ones are phone contacts?
    – Eva
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 5:08
  • If it were me I would use gmail to manage my contacts. I would take the following steps: 1. disconnect the syncing from google 2. delete all contacts from phone 3. fix (merge) all contacts on a pc in gmail 4. reconnect syncing on phone.
    – William
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 11:27
  • contacts.google.com shows only the contacts with email addresses. Are the other contacts with just phone numbers hidden?
    – Eva
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 12:33
  • at google.contacts.com mine shows both. I can imagine if you google contacts have never been synced with a phone, how would they have phone numbers? Do they have phone numbers in gmail and not google.contacts.com? I think they are the same thing.
    – William
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 13:51
  • I checked my google account under settings, and it says it's synced to my phone. When I did the "Merge with Google," my phone added all the people I've sent emails to, which I think is probably all my contacts on gmail. Does it only do a google->phone sync?
    – Eva
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 14:26

You could perhaps try the same method from within the Gmail interface.

  • From within Gmail, navigate to contacts.
  • From the menu More, click on Find & Merge Duplicates.
  • Which Gmail interface? I went on the internet through both my phone and my computer, but neither worked. Is there a way to do it through the Gmail app?
    – Eva
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 5:46
  • Gmail (web) has a Contacts and Tasks manager as well. You can't do it through the Gmail Android app.
    – Santosh
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 6:13
  • Your link directed me to contacts.google.com. I've already tried that for both my phone and computer. Is that the right link?
    – Eva
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 6:49
  • Yup, that was it (except it opens within Gmail for me). Anyway, do try Go Contacts too. play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jbapps.contactpro
    – Santosh
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 7:09
  • Go Contacts showed 4x the number of contacts as the built-in contact app. After a many tries of merging each contact one-by-one, I discovered that nothing was merging. All the reviews were great, so I am again worried my phone is probably broken :/
    – Eva
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 4:00

Another offline and easy way to do this is as following:

Download MyPhoneExplorer software (for Windows) from here

It can connect to almost any Android device with USB or Wi-fi and syncs all contacts, messages, etc.

After you have successfully set it up, go to Contacts section, you should see all of your contacts (including duplicates) here. Now manually select a batch of duplicate items and right-click, then select Merge Contacts from menu.

After you are done with all contacts, click Sync icon on top panel and wait until the software uploads changes to your phone.

  • MyPhoneExplorer refuses to connect with my GS3. I couldn't figure out what "Connect only" meant or how to ensure the ADB drivers were installed, so that might have messed it up.
    – Eva
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 4:22
  • @Eva I never had a galaxy phone, but I'm almost sure that this software works with them. In your case, I don't think ADB drivers are required, just make sure you have installed samsung pc suite software (Kies?!!) on your pc. It would install required drivers to connect to phone via USB.
    – yrajabi
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 9:51
  • My phone has Kies, but I'm not sure how to find out if it has the full version. I couldn't find another pc suite to add to it either. Considering all the stuff that works on most phones that hasn't worked for mine, I'm starting to think my phone might be broken.
    – Eva
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 3:22

I don't think that your phone is broken. That sounds more like a usability problem. On the other hand, you described the process of joining and merging very accurately, so I wonder why it did not work for you...

First, you have to know that there are 2 reasons why there are duplicate contacts:

  1. because your contact is in many contact sources (Phone, Google+, Facebook, Skype, etc.)
  2. because the contact appears multiple times in a contact source.

The approaches to solve these situations are for

  1. "joining" contacts from different sources
  2. "merging" the contact information into one single contact

Since you know how to perform a merge/join operation you are already on a good track. Now you need to know how to tell the source from a contact: Is it a contact saved in the phones memory? Or on the SIM card? Maybe a Google cloud-synced contact?

I hope this helps. If not, consider posting some screenshots.



This works if your contacts are on google account.

This is kind of weird experience where you can't merge the duplicate accounts and even those contacts can't be searched. Something was clearly wrong. Since I sync my accounts with Google, I decided to delete all my contacts (because I can restore at any time).

Now once deleting all contacts, go to contacts.google.com -> Menu -> more -> undo changes -> restore contacts to one hour back (or your preferred day). And then make sure google contacts sync is in enable state (settings -> accounts -> google -> your account -> contacts).

This fixed my issue. Hopefully this will work for you too.


Maybe this thread can help you.

  • 2
    Just posting links isn't great as the link could go down, could you provide a summary of what's said on the page?
    – Peanut
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 22:48

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