One of the downsides of my awesome new XV6700 Windows Mobile Smartphone was that somewhere along the way, I ended up with duplicate Outlook contacts. Yeah, I know there are ways to avoid this. Believe me, I didn’t intend for it to happen. But these things are part of living the Microsoft life. Let’s skip the blame game (not my fault) and move to the solution.
I’ve been through this before, last October. For whatever reason, my old Samsung SCH-i600 Smartphone that merrily had synced with Outlook just fine did the dupe business as well. I dug up a free tool I downloaded ages ago to remove the dupes, but it involved me hitting OK a lot. Like 500 to 750 times. I have a lot of contacts.
I thought I’d be smart this time. I have an old copy of Outlook that was backed up literally only a few hours before the dupe accident. I’m religious about Outlook backups. I make a copy (and on a separate drive) every day or sometimes after every working session, if I’ve done a lot of email. Pity that requires copying a 200MB file each time, rather than just the small portion that actually changes. But when you live the Microsoft life…
(Shut up, Barry Schwartz. I feel you reading and know that IM is coming — “Get a Mac, Get a Mac.” For what? So when the Mac screws up, it shows me an unhappy Mac face!).
So I copy the Contact folder from my old Outlook file to the current one. Now I have two: Contacts and Contacts1, as Outlook has called the file I brought in. All I need to do now is delete Contacts, rename Contacts1, maybe do a few other changes, and I’m set.
No, I’m not. See, you apparently can’t delete your default Contacts file. Seriously, right click on your default, and you won’t see a remove option for it. Add another Contact folder, and no problem if you want to remove that new one. But not your default.
I tried some quick searches. There’s plenty of advice on how to remove additional contact folders you may have added but not your default one. Microsoft also offers up Remove a Contacts folder from its help area, which is about making it not visible in your Address Book, rather than having it deleted altogether (and why on earth do I have to have an Address Book separate from my Contacts folder anyway? Geez. Yeah, yeah, I’ve told Outlook to use my Contacts as my Address Book, but it’s confusing to have these two things).
I was also bemused that my search brought up the hopeful sounding Delete duplicate contacts advice page from Microsoft. Wow? You mean dupe removal is built in? Sure. There’s an eight step procedure that guides you through the process of deleting each of your duplicate contacts manually. I kid you not! I wish it were a joke. Here are the last two steps:
7) In the list of contacts, press CTRL while you click each duplicate contact.
When you have selected all the duplicate contacts, press DELETE.
Yeah, that’s what I want to do, hold the CTRL button down while I select 500 to 750 duplicate contacts to delete. Can you imagine the Microsoft “How To Start Your Car” advice:
- Locate your key
- Insert your key into your car door
- Sit in your car seat
- Make sure your seat belt is buckled
- Put your foot on the brake pedal
- Locate the ignition switch, usually on the steering column
- Insert the key into the ignition switch. You insert it using the narrow end, not the end on the key ring
- Turn the key in the switch
OK, my solution was ultimately easy. I selected all my contacts in the original bad Contacts folder. I deleted all of those. Then I selected all the contacts in my good Contact1 folder and dragged-and-dropped them into the original Contacts folder. Then I deleted Contacts1. Problem solved.
Didn’t back up? OK, if your mobile device isn’t screwed up with dupes as well (mine was), you could set ActiveSync (Go Tools, Options, Rules, Conflict Resolution) to replace items on your computer with the clean version on your mobile device.
Aside from that? Slipstick is always a great site for Outlook stuff, and they’ve got an Outlook Contacts Tools page here. Lots of options to use. That software solution I used last time was Outlook Contacts Scrubber. The free version is great for those with less than 1000 items, and there’s a paid version that saves you from clicking OK all the time. I didn’t know that, or I would have just bought the tool last time. I had a version I downloaded from way back in 2003 (I’m a packrat and carry around my software downloads from years ago with me). Since I was on dial-up when my last accident happened, I went with what I had rather than seeking out a new option.