How to Make Your Address Book More Useful with Facebook

While there are a lot of advantages to having a large social graph (aka friending everyone and their bots), there are also advantages to having a more tightly managed social graph. If you keep your address book/contact list filled with people you talk with on a regular basis, you can use facebook to help fill in your missing data.

My Contacts

My Contacts

I use google apps for domains as my primary email program. Now that they don’t add everyone to your “my contacts” grouping just because you’ve talked with them once, the google contacts part has actually become useful.  I’ve got ~1300 people in my address book but only 162 with the “my contacts” designations (side note: funny how that’s pretty close to Dunbar’s Number).

I’m an iphone user, so I’ve got Google Sync keeping my contacts sync’d and backed up into the cloud. I don’t have to worry about one or the other getting out of sync or about losing a phone/number email if I lose my phone or a computer dies on me.

But this is child’s play. Let’s kick things up a notch.

One of the nice things on an iPhone is having someone’s picture pop up when they call. It makes it much easier to decide who to completely ignore screen and call back later.  Now let’s be honest: it’s kind of annoying to go through and put pictures for all of your contacts even if you only have a few people in your contact list. Fortunately there’s an app called MyPhone+. For $2.99 it will go to facebook, look for a matching email address, pull in the person’s facebook picture, and assign it to the contact. Now if your friends are in the habit of putting pictures of their kids as their profile picture on facebook this isn’t really helpful.  Either you have to memorize which kid belongs to which friend, or you have to throw your hands in the air and let a bunch of random kids run amok through your phone.  Still, the app is really versatile. You can do the sync as many times as you want,  you can change the setting to allow some information to be overwritten and some to be locked, and you can also upload your contacts directly to facebook from the app.

Here’s another facebook timesaver. If you go to your facebook page with your facebook contacts’ phone numbers, you can import those numbers into your address book. Use the address booker greasemonkey script, export the CSV, and import the info. You don’t need to do it every day; once a month should be fine. The goal is to get away from having information in multiple places. You want to centralize it in one location so you can find it quickly when you need it.

It would be really nice if facebook, linkedin, and plaxo provided a way to sync your contact info (the way google is able to sync with your contacts directly) so you didn’t have to resort to things like greasemonkey scripts. Also it would be nice if Google would import/sync the picture from your address book when one didn’t exist.
photo credit: Mike Cattell

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