Duplicate contacts might not seem a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but they can make life inconvenient in any app where communicating with others is involved — you might end up sending a text to someone's old number or even messaging the wrong person altogether.
With all the different apps that want access to your contacts list (both on mobile and elsewhere) duplicates can easily crop up, so we're going to show you how to get rid of them. There's not a magic wand you can wave to get rid of these duplicate address book entries but it's not too difficult.
From Contacts in Android
The first place to start is the Contacts app in Android. Obviously this may vary depending on exactly what your manufacturer of choice has decided to do with the contacts app, but on stock Android Lollipop you can tap on a name, then the edit icon (a pen symbol), then the trash can to delete it.
It may well be that you've got two contact entries for the same person (one with an email address and one with a mobile number for example). To link them together, go to the contact edit screen, open the More menu (three vertical dots) and tap Join — you can then pick a contact to merge.
Most flavors of Android (TouchWiz, Sense and so on), have a similar feature or some other kind of tool for spotting and removing contacts. On a Samsung phone, for example, look for the link icon next to the Connected via label on contact pages to connect two contact cards together.
From Gmail on the web
Sometimes it's best to manage your Google contacts from the web interface where you have a few more options to play around with. From Gmail, click on the drop-down menu to the top-left of the inbox, then choose Contacts from the list to see all of the people in your virtual address book.
Google is rolling out a new Contacts interface for the web, which you may or may not have yet, but the process is similar in both cases. Click on the Find duplicates link on the menu on the left and Google looks for separate entries that share common details (like names or mobile phone numbers).
When you see the results appear, you can click Merge to join up a particular group of contact cards or Merge all to perform the procedure on all of them. Alternatively, you can manually select contacts from the main list using the tick boxes, then merge or delete them using the icons at the top.
Using a dedicated app
There are a number of apps around that will let you manage your contacts more easily on Android, so take your pick, but one of the best we've come across is called Simpler Merge Duplicates — it works in a similar way to the merge contacts tool that Google provides inside Gmail on the web.
All you need to do is launch Simpler Merge Duplicates and the app scours your phone contacts and draws up a list of potential matches (based on both details and names). You then have the option to review them and choose the ones you want to go through with before confirming.
A lot of companies want to take full control over your contacts, syncing details from various different services (including Google) and including duplicate removal as one of the features. Take Merge+ for example, which is part of a bigger Contacts+ service for managing your address book.