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How to Sync Gmail Contacts to an iPhone


woman using smartphone on couch
MoMo Productions/Stone/Getty Images

As a tech geek, my preferences in gadgets mirror my well-rounded world view. I’ve got a Windows laptop, an Apple iPad and several iterations of the Samsung Galaxy S Android phone. I’ve sampled a Galaxy Tab 10.1, Motorola Xoom and a BlackBerry PlayBook. I also have a PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Wii U and even a Limited Edition Ouya living in perfect harmony under my living room TV. Hey, the more the merrier, I say.

Then again, my “tech philandering” ways can lead to issues sometimes. Take my decision to use Gmail instead of my Outlook account at work as the parking space for all 500+ of my contacts, for example (I figure that if I change reporting jobs or — gulp — get fired, then I don’t have to worry about losing my contact list after losing access to my work e-mail). Naturally, my job recently decided to give me an iPhone that was tied to my Microsoft Outlook account with the company. The result? I only have one guy in my contact list, and it happens to be some dude I added by mistake. The fact that the Gmail app for the iPhone sorta-kinda sucks doesn’t help either.

Fortunately, the iPhone lets you sync your Gmail contacts pretty easily. I mean, it literally just takes a couple or so minutes. Here’s the lowdown on getting those Gmail contacts into your iPhone:

Tap on the Settings app: If you look through your apps, you’ll see a logo that looks like mechanical gears with the word “Settings.” Tap that sucker.

Go to Mail, Contacts, Calendars: Once you’re in the Settings menu, scroll down until you see “Mail, Contacts, Calendars.” Tap that sucker, too.

Find Add Account: It’s the one followed by the foreboding ellipses — as if something bad is gonna happen. Hey, that still may be, true. Yes, you guessed it, tap that sucker.

Pick Microsoft Exchange: At this point, you’ll see a bunch of stuff like iCloud, Microsoft Exchange, etc. See the one that says Gmail? Don’t tap that sucker. I know it’s counter-intuitive but, frankly, I got a couple of error messages when I tried to use it and just flat out gave up on it. Yes, I know, I’m a freaking quitter, OK? Don’t judge me! Seriously, though, I was on deadline and I just wanted to get it over with quickly. So remember the Microsoft Exchange logo we talked about earlier? Tap that sucker.

Fill out your fields: OK, now you’re going to need to fill out some info. For Email fill in your Gmail address, like gstringmale@gmail.com or something (wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah). Don’t touch Domain and just leave it as it is. For Username, just put the part before “@” in the e-mail you entered, which would be gstringmale in the example above. Password would be the password to your Gmail account. For Description, you can put whatever the heck you want, though I would advise using something that would actually remind you what account you are adding. But, hey, if you wanna use something like MRwiggles, then be my guest. Once everything is to your liking, hit Next.

Fill Out Domain: Now you’ll see an extra box called Domain. This is actually important so you’ll want to fill it out properly and not put some silly stuff like “Everything,” even if you really are the master of your domain. (One co-worker I helped out actually tried to skip this step and then asked me why the setup process got stuck in limbo.) Instead, just put m.google.com, which indicates a mobile account, of course. You’ll then see a bunch of sliders, which you will want to swipe to the “ON” position.

Wait, only 50-something contacts showed up: This actually happened to me so there’s a chance it might happen to you, too. Just get out of Settings and go to your Contacts. Hit Groups on the upper left and then click the refresh arrow, which also will be on the upper left. Voila, the rest of your contacts should load.

NOTE: This tutorial was done on an iPhone 4S with iOS 5.0.1.

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