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Syncing iPhone contacts

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Q: As a follow-up to the previous question, I have loaded up my contacts into my iPhone by importing them from my SIM card. I now want to sync these with my Google contacts via iTunes, but I’m getting a message telling me that my contacts on my iPhone will be deleted if I do this. I have read some forums online stating that I would need to sync it with Microsoft Outlook first and then upload my contacts into Google contacts from there, but I am not permitted to use Outlook on the PC that I am using. Any advice on how to proceed would be appreciated.

- Alex

A: Normally, syncing your contacts via iTunes should offer to merge the contacts on your iPhone with the contacts already in your desktop address book application or Google Contacts, although this can depend on a number of factors, so the statements that you should sync with a desktop address book application first is likely a safer option.

Note that iTunes and the iPhone will sync with Windows Address Book as well, so you don’t necessarily require the full Microsoft Outlook client for desktop synchronization of your contacts (Calendar sync, on the other hand, is only available with Outlook). Windows Address Book is integrated into Outlook Express, but can also be launched as a separate application which should normally be found under your Windows XP Accessories menu.

Syncing with the Windows Address Book should definitely give you the opportunity to merge your contacts in the Windows Address Book with the contacts on your iPhone. If the Windows Address Book is empty to begin with, you will likely receive no prompt, but the contacts will flow from the iPhone into the Windows Address Book.

For an added bit of security, note also that iTunes does make backups of the content on your iPhone, including the contacts, at the beginning of each sync. This backup can be used to restore your iPhone in the event that the contact sync does not flow in the direction you would expect it to. In this case, simply right-click on the iPhone in your iTunes source list, and choose the “Restore” option and iTunes will restore the most recent backup back onto your iPhone. Note that this will erase and restore everything that has changed since the last backup was made, so make sure you have a recent backup before starting this procedure.

You can check your iPhone backups by going into your iTunes preferences and choosing the Syncing tab:

 

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