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Some apps are so tiny, you could almost forget they existed—and yet they're powerful tools you should use more. That’s exactly Google Contacts. It’s just the address book that’s built into Gmail. You likely only use it is when Gmail helps you auto-fill email addresses from Google Contacts, or when you add a new contact from your phone and it’s silently synced. Dig deeper, though, and there’s much more in Google Contacts.
Every address book has space to store all the details you want, and Google Contacts is no exception. Want to keep track of your contacts’ addresses, multiple emails and phone numbers, birthdays, websites, and more? All of that and more are ready for you to use in Google Contacts. You can also add free-form notes about your contacts, giving you a great way to save notes to yourself about customers, colleagues, and more. It could just remind you of your friend’s allergies for the next time you invite them over, or could help you remember professional interactions as a tiny CRM. Click a contact in Google Contacts, and you'll also see any recent documents and emails you've shared for a quick refresher.
With its new design, it's easier to navigate through your contacts than ever. You can label contacts to group people into sets, star your favorite contacts, or even see an auto-generated list of the people you contact most frequently. And if you accidentally add the same people twice, Google Contacts will find and offer to merge them automatically.
Google Contacts also helps you find out more info about your contacts, via the details your contacts add about themselves in Google Contacts and the now nearly-defunct Google+ network. Google can pull in contacts' pictures, the university they attended, their hometown, or the companies they’ve worked for and positions they’ve held. If your contact changes their email and shares the new address in their Google profile, you’ll automatically have it in your address book.
That’s only helpful if you add people to your address book, which is easy to forget to do. But don’t worry: if you use Gmail, Google Contacts will automatically notice the people you’re emailing most, and add their contact info to a Most Contacted list, complete with their Google+ info. Combine that with Gmail’s search and extensive archive of your mail, and you almost don’t have to worry about losing a contact again.
If you’re using Google Contacts inside your company, there’s another great feature you’ll like: Directory. You can add all of your company’s important contacts and their info to one central list that everyone with a company email address will automatically see. No more asking around for someone's correct email address.
All those features make Google Contacts a great address book, and give you basic CRM functionality without any extra effort. If you’re a Gmail user already, take a few minutes to explore the extra features Google Contacts gives you—you’ll likely find some features like these that help you work more efficiently and stay in touch better.
Originally published September 5, 2014; updated May 1, 2018 with new screenshots and features