How can I keep Gmail and iCloud contacts in sync?

Discussion in 'iOS 5 and earlier' started by Dangerdog3000, Dec 3, 2011.

  1. Dangerdog3000 macrumors member

    Aug 26, 2009
    I have a somewhat odd situation I suppose. When iOS 5 came out I started using iCloud for contacts since it was easier. However, I still use Gmail for mail since it seems to be a lot better. The problem I now face is that any new contacts I add with an email address will only show up on iCloud, and not Gmail. So when I go to compose new mails in Gmail, I don't have the persons email address and must go over to my iPhone or to look at it.

    So the question here is, is there anyway that I can export iCloud contacts to my Gmail account (Gmail was my previous contact backup solution) without having to give up on using iCloud. Basically, I want to use both iCloud and Gmail to sync contacts, but don't want duplicates of anything on my iPhone to show up.

    Is it even possible? I was checking settings to see if there is an export option but I couldn't find one.

    I'm on Windows btw and I do have Gmail Exchange setup on my iPhone.

    Thank You
  2. MBHockey macrumors 68040


    Oct 4, 2003
    New York
    Why even use iCloud for your contacts? Set up your gmail as an exchange account and it will push contacts just like iCloud.
  3. Dangerdog3000 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 26, 2009
    That's the setup I had before iCloud came out, but I like iCloud better mainly because it has matching fields with my iPhone. Gmail sometimes get confused and it gets buggy with that stuff.

    If nothing works out, I may have to resort to using only Gmail to sync contacts.
  4. Arelunde macrumors 6502a


    Jul 6, 2011
    CA Central Coast
    Once iCloud sync started up, my Gmail contacts went from highly organized to chaos. It took me several days to straighten them out - duplicates, old info, etc. I stopped the iCloud connection and just kept the Gmail sync. No problems since. Actually, I don't use iCloud for very much. It seems to create more issues than it solves.
  5. Dangerdog3000 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 26, 2009
    I realized that it's probably not possible to export (at least not on windows) and just went ahead and manually copied the missing few contact's that were in iCloud but not in Gmail. Then I just turned off iCloud contact syncing. I use Gmail for contacts only now. Should make it a lot easier. I guess it's true there really isn't a very big benefit in having iCloud contacts sync setup.
  6. DaveTheRave macrumors 6502a

    May 22, 2003
    I haven't tried this but you can export the iCloud contacts from your Mac's Address Book (select all contacts first). In Gmail contacts there's an option to import, and I think it supports vCard/Apple.
  7. Dangerdog3000 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Problem is, I have windows. The only address book in windows is through Windows Live Mail which is extremely crappy (IMO).

    It's ok though. I ended up using my backup plan and am only going to sync through Gmail now. iCloud contacts is is no longer being used by me.
  8. TLewis macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2007
    left coast, US
    As you've found out, there's no real good solution:

    • While you can sync icloud contacts with windows contacts or outlook, there's no good way to sync these to google.

    • If you ever plan on using Siri, you pretty much have to use icloud contacts, as only icloud contacts have the relationship fields (e.g., sister, father, husband, wife, etc., etc.).

    • One real ugly method is to first make icloud and google contacts identical, then access them both from iOS via linked contacts. If you always edit the linked contacts via iOS (and ONLY there), both google and icloud contacts will stay the same. However, once you edit a contact outside of iOS, you're screwed.
  9. DeathChill macrumors 68000

    Jul 15, 2005
    I just manually entered the contacts from my GMail account to my iCloud account. I honestly did it because you get full pictures with iCloud for a caller, whereas GMail only has a thumbnail beside their name.
  10. Dangerdog3000 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Ok, that's interesting now. I don't have a 4S so it won't affect me until I upgrade my phone but thank you for mentioning that. Hopefully they fix iCloud by that time or iOS 6 fixes it.
  11. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I dont rely on any google products anymore! As of this year they become useless on iPhone. They drop out daily and tell you your password is wrong and just dont work. Gmail contacts only go one way can enter one into gmail and it will be on your phone, but not the other used to work, but google got so interested in android they ****ed everything else into inoperability!
  12. ericg301 macrumors 65816

    Jun 15, 2010
    Not true on so many levels. Google products have worked seemlessly with iphones for a while now. Maybe check your settings.
  13. TLewis macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2007
    left coast, US

    While google has issues, reliability and performance are generally not among them. If anything, google is more reliable and faster than iCloud. And, while I do tell people to use iCloud contacts instead of google contacts, google contacts work for me: I can add a new google contact from either the web or the iPhone, and my contacts are properly synchronized.
  14. Arelunde macrumors 6502a


    Jul 6, 2011
    CA Central Coast
    +1 on these comments. I've used Gmail for a couple years with no problems. However, the contacts sync must be done alone (through iTunes sync - check sync with Google contacts) and NOT NOT NOT synced through any other source... and this includes iCloud and the nastiest of all, Verizon's automatic backup/sync. Disable this Vz disaster.
  15. TLewis macrumors 65816

    Sep 19, 2007
    left coast, US
    Not sure what kind of disaster VZ has, but google sync works better than iTunes sync. Not only do you get push gmail, but you also get autosynchronized contacts and calendars.
  16. vitzr macrumors 68030


    Jul 28, 2011
    Perhaps Gmail is unhappy with you.

    It works just fine with my setup and it's not able to get confused. The Gmail I use doesn't have a brain... :)
  17. Primejimbo macrumors 68040

    Aug 10, 2008
    I used Gmail for a few years but for some reason there was something that I just didn't like. I am slowly switching to iCloud and so far so good, I am very happy with it.
  18. amro, Dec 4, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2011

    amro macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2008
    The problem with Gmail contacts is that their custom labels are not supported on the iPhone. Gmail HAS custom contacts if you create them from your web browser. So, I use iCloud for everything but mail. I rarely email from my web browser anyway. It's either my iPhone or iPad.

    There really should be a standard that allows custom labels across all "contacts" platforms.
  19. TyShawn macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2010
    Just a question as I also have both services checked. If I turn off gmail for my contact and leave iCloud for contacts the missing contacts that are on googles servers will it update in iCloud? I also want to verify that I will not loose any contacts.
  20. adamking, Jul 17, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2012

    adamking macrumors newbie

    Jul 17, 2012
    Three things for me:
    -My Gmail account has and will persist through many generations of different devices that I own
    -Gmail will most likely be more compatible with a wider range of devices, both presently and in the future
    -I use many different OS's concurrently, so iCloud is too proprietary of a system to provide unified functionality to all of my devices in a manner as efficient as Gmail

    If you want to go FROM iCloud TO Gmail, check this other thread:
  21. yrrab446 macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2012
    How To Sync Gmail Contacts on Your Iphone

    Are you a real business user of Gmail corporate with an Iphone? Do you want and need to keep your contacts synced but don't trust Icloud? This is how this trial lawyer, neophyte, bridged the two worlds of the Iphone and Google Apps (Corporate Gmail Hosted by Google) and made them play nice.

    The following technique assumes that you have all of your Gmail Contacts up-to-date and want them imported onto your I-Phone. It also assumes that there are NO CONTACTS YOU WANT EXISTING ON YOUR IPHONE, MAC, OR ICLOUD. If you want these, you will have to export them en masse and then import them back into G-Mail Contacts after you're finished with this process. WARNING: The reimportation process leaves a lot to be desired as data fields don't always match up and YOU MAY LOSE DATA. Be forewarned. Backup everything first and have a specific restoral plan.

    With those warnings, here's how grownups integrate all that's great with an Iphone with all that's great with Gmail (and leave Icloud to the tinkerers....)

    1) Make sure you have all of your contacts on Gmail UP TO DATE and then do a BACKUP of them to be extra safe. (Click on More, Export.... from Contacts page)
    2) Backup all of your Iphone contacts if you think you might need them by syncing with Icloud and then getting all the contacts synced back onto your Mac Address Book app. Then, BACK UP the Address Book File on the Mac and keep it in a safe place.
    3) If you have Mac Address Book data that you want to re-import into Google before you delete it all from your address book on your Mac, you will have to do this one VCF file at a time, or buy a utility that will convert it into Import-able format to upload into Google Contacts. PLEASE figure this out before you proceed to the next step. Mac's address book app is notoriously difficult to export from, so be prepared to export individual VCF files one at a time to get the data transferred if necessary.
    4) DID YOU FOLLOW STEPS 1-3 ABOVE? If so, now it's time to delete all of your address book entries from the Mac. Select all and then delete the cards. This will delete them from the Icloud and from your phone after you sync. This make take a while if you have a lot of data or contacts. You will need to refresh your phone and your computer, as well as log into Icloud and refresh it. Verify that the contacts are removed from all three places: Iphone, Mac, and Icloud. You will need a clean slate for this to work properly.
    4) Once your contacts are cleared out completely from your Iphone, Mac, and the Icloud, you're ready to get Gmail Contacts syncing configured. Removing existing contacts from all of these places will permit that to happen cleanly and without duplicates.
    5) Now, turn off Icloud Contact syncing on your Iphone under the Settings. This will prevent duplicates. You can leave any other services turned on if you need them on. Just uncheck Contacts.
    6) Turn off Icloud contact syncing on your Mac computer. Again, under System Preferences, Icloud and uncheck the "Contacts" box.
    7) Finally, read and follow the instructions found here from google for how to push all of your gmail contacts down to your Iphone and keep them flawlessly synced:

    I am now syncing more than 9,000 contacts on my Iphone and it works BEAUTIFULLY! I would have paid somebody $500 to figure this out for me, but I could not find anyone who understood it. The catch is that Google uses Microsoft Exchange for your Iphone (goofy I know--Google using Microsoft to talk to Apple). Cheers!

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