How to get your Google contacts back

Lost your Google contacts? Have they disappeared, vanished with nary a trace? Before you start drinking heavily, here's how to get 'em back ...

contacts graphic

Last week I experienced true, unfiltered digital horror: My Gmail contacts simply disappeared. I have no idea why but I suspect that it was something to do with one of the many apps I recently tested that link to your Gmail account if you allow them to … alas, I can't figure out which one it might have been.

Anyway, my contacts were gone, completely. What made this truly frightening was that while I had a backup it was about a month out of date and I'd made a lot of changes since then.

After scratching my head for a while I asked around and, praise be to St. Jude (the patron saint of lost causes), a friend pointed me in the right direction: Google actually has a contact recovery option built-in to Gmail; you just need to know where to look …

Here's how to use it: Assuming your Web browser is logged into Google you go to: When you get there click on the More menu and select Restore Contacts:

google contacts 1 Mark Gibbs

… and then select the point in time you want to go back to; Gmail allows you to return your contacts to where they were at any time in the previous 30 days.

google contacts 2 Mark Gibbs

[MORE: The Onion's 10 Greatest Gags About Google]

If you want to get fancy you can always backup your Gmail contacts from your own application or from the command line; the Google Contacts API documentation for this is excellent if you plan to build an app while, if you’re a command line kinda person, you can use a utility such as cURL to do the job; again, Google has lots of helpful documentation including a detailed discussion of how to use cURL.


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