Doesn’t the Contact app have a duplicate finder?

It does but there are several things it doesn’t do and some things it does do that you may not like

The in-built duplicate finder…

  • doesn’t show you what it is merging. This is fine for contacts that are exactly the same but when you are merging you have no control over how the data is merged.
  • doesn’t find near duplicates, name in the wrong place, name abbreviated on one side and other differences.
  • doesn’t suggest possible matches for you to check through.
  • doesn’t let you see what is being combined which can be very useful for solving recurring problems.
  • doesn’t keep an archive of deleted contacts

Why does Clearout show a different number of duplicate to the built-in app?

Apple’s Contact.app uses looser rules for matching duplicates. Clearout will show only contacts that are actually identical under the Identical Matches heading. Clearout will show the other matches, but grouped according to how safe it is to delete or merge them.

Contact.app will match contacts with different capitalisation or labels. Clearout will hold these in separate groups so that you know about all modifications to your data.

What are ‘linked’ people?

The in-built Contacts app matches contacts on different sources and combines them for display – it doesn’t change the original contacts. So entries on different sources may show as one contact.

What is an account?

The contacts that are visible on your mac may be held in different places. They might be held in iCloud. They can held locally on your machine. They may be in Google or Yahoo! These different accounts are combined into the list you can see in the Contacts.app (or any of our apps).

Accounts are sometimes called ‘address books’.

Undoing a contact delete recreates it on a different account.

Unfortunately the Apple API does only allows us to create Contacts in the default account. The default account is selected in the preferences of the built-in Contacts app.

When we restore a deleted app and you have multiple accounts, we may not be able to create it in the original account. This may also lose the group membership which goes along with the account.

You will be warned that this has happened.

If the deleted contact is also a linked contact, the contacts it linked will all be created in the same default account. This may result in several cards for the same contact being created in the same account. See the ‘Restore Linked Contact’ FAQ for more explanation.

I have undone a Remove of a Contact, now I have several copies.

Linked contacts don’t exist. They are just made up of several contacts in different address books or ‘accounts’. When you delete a linked contact, you are actually deleting all of the separate contacts. These linked contacts are not visible in Contacts.app and Clearout also hides them.

If you undo the delete, the Apple API does not allow Clearout to re-link the contacts, so they will be recreated separately.  On top of this as the API only allows creation of contacts in the default account so all of the separate contacts will appear in the same account.

This is a problem. If one of the linked contacts was in a Google account and showed up on your Android phone, the restored contact will not reappear on your phone. Because of the API there is no way around this.

Requests have been put into Apple to allow creation on other accounts.

I can’t drag to or from a contact card.

This is probably because the card is locked. LinkedIn, for instance, doesn’t always allow information to be edited. You should see an explanation in the status box at the bottom of the list in Clearout.