This seemingly easy task took me literally two hours to figure out: Back up an Android phone’s contacts to a gmail account. My phone is an LG Optimus T – very nice phone in my opinion – but its user manual doesn’t even talk about this. There are numerous discussions on Android forums, unfortunately none of the “tips” or “solutions” worked for me. So I thought I’d share my experience in case someone is looking to do the same.
Below is a step by step process that will convert all contacts on a SIM card to “Google,” and Sync them with a Gmail account:
- Set up your Gmail account on your Android phone. If you didn’t do this initially, you can still do it in Settings, Account and Sync, then Add Account. I created a new Gmail account just for my phone, so that if the phone is lost my personal emails are not in jeopardy. But this is up to you;
- Allow Auto Sync with your Gmail account;
- Each contact in your smart phone is assigned a type, or multiple types, such as SIM, phone, carrier, or Google. Only contacts that are labeled “Google” may be sync’ed with your Google account. Future Android versions may expand this capability, but as of now, you need to convert all your contacts to Google or Gmail first;
- If all your contacts are on the SIM card, go to Contacts from the home screen or apps;
- Click the Menu button, tap on More, then Import/Export;
- Select Import from SIM card;
- The next screen will display “Create contact under account:” Select the gmail option;
- The next screen will ask you to select contacts for the conversion. You can do so one by one if you only want to sync some contacts but not all. If you wish to convert all contacts at once, click the Menu button again and tap Select All;
- Voila! Each contact on your SIM card will now have a duplicate that is associated with Google. In your Contacts Menu screen, you can change the display option to show all contacts or only contacts that have a certain type;
- Now go to your Contacts, Menu, Accounts. Select the Gmail account and click Menu again. Then tap Sync Now.
- Go to your computer and sign into gmail, and verify all your phone’s contacts have shown up in your My Contacts or Other Contacts list. If the list is long it may take a while. You must have a data plan or are connected through wifi for the Sync function to work;
- Now you can delete the contacts from your SIM card, leave them as backup, or even export them to a SD card for yet another backup.
Keep in mind that the instructions above are based on an LG Optimus phone. If you have a different phone or use a different Android version, the menu or items may be different too. For example, here is how I sync’d contacts on a Google Galaxy Nexus phone running Android 4.0. I guess this is the drawback, among numerous benefits, of an open source operating system.
Another popular online backup option is to go with your carrier like Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile, but it may or may not be free. If you don’t trust the “cloud” stuff, you can always save all your contacts to the phone’s flash memory card, usually a micro-SDHC, and then transfer them to your computer via USB or bluetooth. Either way is better than losing your contacts by accident, and scrambling to recover them.