Why does Google Contacts create duplicates when I sync it with my iPhone?

Al Bartos August 9, 2011

Whenever I sync my iPhone with Google Contacts, Google Contacts generates duplicates, sometimes triplicates of some, but not all. Also, a “;” will be inserted in some contacts.

I’ve asked the Google Forum, but no replies. Should I just forget it and go back to sync with Outlook?

  1. ShazzBazz
    March 30, 2012 at 12:15 am

    If you go to your contacts in Gmail, you could select all and click find and merge duplicates. Worked like a charm for me!

    • John
      April 17, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      I currently do the same thing, Shazz, but I have to do it several times a week as a third of my contacts duplicate everytime the auto iTunes WiFi sync happens. 

      Can anyone speak to WHY this happens? Is it Google, iTunes, or the iPhone?  And why do only a third of my 500 contacts duplicate?  My gut tells me it has something to do with a third party app like Facebook that is accessing my contact list and causing an issue, but I have no proof of this...

  2. ASH
    February 28, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I experienced the same thing, even after I deleted my old google account on my phone and chose to delete all existing contacts on phone before syncing.
    I always thought when they sync, the updated info will automatically override the old ones but they do not, they duplicate instead. Sometimes, the old ones override the new ones, whether the new one is in the google contact or the phone contact.
    So when we sync, how do we know google contacts override phone's or the other way round? It's inevitable that we update contacts either on phone or gmail so how do we avoid the above scenarios from happening again?
    In the end, I resorted to conventional way - manually.

  3. Anonymous
    January 7, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Thought to share an app which helped me to clear the duplicate contact problem with iOs5. It is called PhoneBook CleanMaster, try it, it should solve the problem in 5 minutes. The best part of it is that you have an option to examine detailed information of each contact before batch delete or merge. There are other apps, none is free. PhoneBook CleanMaster seems work best. It definitely helps when trying to sync with multiple contacts from PC or the Net.

  4. Guest55901
    August 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    any update on which solution worked?

    • Al Bartos
      August 22, 2011 at 7:42 pm

      Please see my reply above.

  5. Anonymous
    August 10, 2011 at 8:55 am

    go to SETTINGS -> Mail,contacts, calendars -> then to your google sync account (the one with the contacts, calendars underneath it) Delete this account. Now follow the steps again to set up a google sync account using exchange, only this time when it asks you if you want to keep your existing numbers or delete them choose delete. As long as you have all you contacts on google, the next time you go into you iphone address book they will re-populate, and you won't have any duplicates. 

    temporarily utilize Yahoo contacts. Here are the details ( back everything up first).
    1. Ensure that all duplicates have been removed from GMail Contacts.
    2. Run an iTunes sync between Google and the iPhone, forcing a replacement of all contacts on the iPhone with the Google data (i.e. in iTunes, go to Info / Advanced /Replace information on this iPhone, and check the box for Contacts).
    3. Run a sync. There should be no duplicates on the iPhone.
    4. On your computer, go to a Yahoo account. Make sure there are no contacts listed. If there are, delete them all.
    5. Go back to iTunes, and change the Contacts sync from Google to Yahoo.
    6. Run an iTunes sync. All contacts should now be migrated to Yahoo, without duplicates.
    7. I don't know if I had to do this, but I ran iTunes sync a few times like this, just to make sure duplicates would not be reintroduced.
    8. Run an iTunes sync between Yahoo and the iPhone, forcing a replacement of all contacts on the iPhone with the Yahoo data (i.e. in iTunes, go to Info / Advanced /Replace information on this iPhone, and check the box for Contacts).
    9. Go back to iTunes, and change the Contacts sync from Yahoo to Google.
    10. Run an iTunes sync between Google and the iPhone (do not force a replacement of any contacts).

    1)-Make sure your iPhone Settings in iTunes have Address Book and Contacts
    synchronization disabled. It will sync via Mobile Me, so you don't need to have
    it sync via iTunes too.

    2)-Make a backup of your Calendars and Address Book. This is very easy.. in
    Address Book it's File->Export->Address Book Archive
    in iCal it's
    File->Export->iCal Archive

    (This assumes your Mac calendar/contacts
    don't have duplicates. If they do, you'll want to clean them out first to get a
    pristine backup. My Address Book was okay, because I didn't let it sync and
    create duplicates. But, I had to manually delete the duplicates of each

    3)-Turn Off Mobile Me Sync. In System Preferences-> MobileMe->Sync
    disable the "Synchronize with MobileMe" option at the top.

    Also, when in
    that area, go into the "Advanced" settings and set the "show alert" level to
    something low like 5% or 25% so you are asked for approval when MobileMe is
    trying to make major changes.

    4)-Log into the MobileMe WWW site, and delete ALL calendar and Address Book
    entries there. In Address Book this is easy, select the first one, scroll down,
    hold shift and select the last one, then select Delete. In Calendar it's a bit
    less obvious.. select each calendar in the list on the left, then click the
    little gear icon at the top right/middle of the page and choose delete. Repeat
    for all calendars.

    At the end of this process, all your calendar and
    contacts entries should be gone.

    5)-Go back into MobileMe settings on your Mac and re-enable the "Synchronize
    with MobileMe" option. It may/should warn you that it's deleting many entries.
    Approve it for both iCal and Address Book, and when it finishes now your Mac's
    iCal and Address Book should also be empty.

    Your iPhone will probably
    also have synchronized and will have an empty address book and calendar.

    6)-In both iCal and Address Book, Import the archives what you exported in step
    1. (select File->Import). Now, when MobileMe synchronizes, your one
    true copy of both should exist on your Mac, Mobile Me, and your iPhone as soon
    as that syncs.

    • Al Bartos
      August 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      THANKS! -- I'll try the "Delete Account" option first and if that doesn't work I'll go the Yahoo route. I'm on Windows so I don't have MobileMe and until Apple restarts it I'm stuck with Outlook or Gmail...

      • Anonymous
        August 11, 2011 at 10:34 am

        Hi, let us know which method worked for you, or if you still need suggestions.

    • Al Bartos
      August 22, 2011 at 7:41 pm

      OK - Well, I can only say this sort of worked.  I am begining to wonder if i need to import all my Google contacts to Outlook, then delete ALL the Coogle contacts, then import the contacts from outlook back to Google. 

      The Yahoo method did not work at all.  When I imported into Yaho only 19 of my 300+ contacts made it through -- and I tried this several times.

      What seems to be working the best is to fix any issues with the google contacts in the iPhone, then sync with Google.  That seems to fix both the contact list in the iPhone AND the contact list on Google.

      I was not a subscriber to MobileMe and it is now no longer is around so I could not try that option.

      Let me know what you think of just importing into Outlook, fixing everything, deleting everything in Google Contacts and then rebuilding the Google contcat list by importing back from Outlook. 

      This almost seems like too much work but then, i like a challenge. 

      • Anonymous
        August 23, 2011 at 7:35 am

        Sure if you feel better in the Outlook way then go for it

        In contacts export all your contacts as an excel file. Then follow the direction at:
        This will eliminate all the duplicate values in that excel file. Make sure that it contains all your contacts that you need. Go to google contacts and select all your contacts and delete all. Sync the iphone and it should delete all the contacts on the phone because they are gone on Google. Then go into contacts and import your contacts excel file in which you removed all the duplicates.


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