In addition to managing our email and calendars, Google Apps also manage our lists of contacts. This includes the contact information for everyone in the organization, as well as for external partners, students, clients, contractors, and other folks we need to get in touch with. This brief tutorial will go over some of the basic features of Google Contacts.
To access your contacts, you have a few options. You can click on the '9-dot grid' in the upper right-hand corner of any Google App, then select contacts.
If you're in your Google Mail inbox, you can also click on 'Mail' in the upper left hand corner of the screen. You can also use the keyboard shortcut (if you've turned them on) "gc".
Finally, you can also just type contacts.google.com in your web browser. Once you get there, you may be treated to a view of "Contacts Preview" or "Old Contacts", which are two different interfaces for contacts. This tutorial is going to focus on Contacts Preview, which you can access by searching for 'Contacts Preview in the right-hand menu.
Creating & Editing Contacts
To create a new contact, click on the large red Action Button in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
You'll then be prompted to enter a name, contact information, and anything else that you would want to remember about this contact. When you're done, click "Save".
Google Contacts has a useful Duplicate-finding feature. Click "Find Duplicates" in the left-hand pane, and Google will search through your contacts looking for duplicate information. It will then offer you the opportunity to merge those contacts. Nice!
The Global Directory
Every email address at Teton Science Schools appears in the Organizational Directory. You can access this by selecting 'Directory' in the left-hand navigation pane. You can also search the directory from the search box; the keyboard shortcut '/' (forward slash) will also jump your cursor straight to the search box. Note: you won't see distribution groups (like TSS Community) show up in the the Global Directory. We'll cover those in a future tutorial.
Creating Custom Contact Lists
If you want to create a custom list of contacts, you'll need to select 'Groups' from the left-hand navigation pane, then choose New Group.
You'll be prompted to create a new name for your group. After our group has a name, you can add members by selecting the group from the sidebar, then hitting the red Action button to add members. Note that this feature doesn't work as well as it should. Google should search your address book for contacts to add, but it often isn't able to find what you're looking for. An alternate way to add contacts to groups is to pull up the contact's card, then select "Add to Groups" in the lower left-hand corner.
Limits of Google Contacts
There's no easy way to share contacts with collaborators, unfortunately. You can't, for instance, create a contact list of parent contact information and then share it with your team. Also, the Google Contacts Preview is still missing some basic features like contact exporting. You may have to switch back to "Old Google Contacts" to access these advanced features.