August 26, 2006  ·  Lessig

Is there such a thing as a program to simplify AddressBook cleanups? (I’m using the OS X default). I’ve got over 5000 entries, many automatically inserted, many many duplicates, etc. But it takes forever to delete, merge, correct the entries. I know I could dump it into a spreadsheet and do it that way, but has anyone seen code to do this more intelligently?

  • Mark

    I have something in “Palm Desktop” app that sounds like that, but have no experience of OS X. Does either of these help? :

  • anonymous

    What version of OS X do you have? Depending on what version and how you upgraded the answer may be different.

    Jaguar, Panther, and Tiger have different address books versions. Certain upgrade paths for Panther to Tiger might result in duplicates that can be easily removed, i.e. it renames the old group to all or default, etc.

    You’re best bet to resolve this is to post a detailed description of the problem over on the Apple Discussion Boards under your OS version. Post your version of OS, version of Address Book, and explain how the dups are duped (exact copy or not). Someone will come along and help.

  • Nicolas Toper

    Hi Lawrence,

    I had the same issue as you and I used Plaxo ( for this task. This is its main use case and people in my network agree with me on the quality of the tool.

    Actually, I regret it now that I have switched to Ubuntu.

  • foo

    Do you know about the “Look for Duplicate Entries…” in the Card menu in Tiger?

  • Joseph Smarr

    Plaxo has a very good de-duplicator called “Address Book Optimizer” that’s part of our premium package ($49.95, free 30 day trial). We also have a sync plug-in for MacOS X address book. So you’d install the plugin, sync your contacts up to Plaxo, run the de-duper (it does both automatic merging of duplicates and assisted merging of near dups) and the results would get synced back down into your Mac AB. It’s definitely our most popular premium product, and as far as I can tell, it’s got more smarts built in than any similar product I’ve found. Plus, since it syncs directly with your Mac AB, there’s no need to do import/export separately. Hope this helps! js

  • Lessig

    Thanks. And I’ll explore the Plaxo option too. Grateful for the help.

  • David Staub

    Plaxo is probably very good at what it does but make sure that you don’t let it send out constant reminders to your address book to “Update your address book entry!” I have several contacts who use it and I personally find it annoying that I am asked on a regular basis to confirm that I have not changed my address.

  • Stephen

    Dear Professor Lessig,

    Plaxo is your best bet, and is a fantastic service. I have a similar number of contacts and have neither the time nor inclination to manually manage my address book anymore. While I use OS X/AddressBook as a primary, if you occasionally need to venture into Windows/Outlook, it is truly a fabulous cross platform service. I cannot endorse them highly enough, obvious standard disclaimer applies, no stock, no financial incentive. Merely a very satisfied customer.

  • woulfe

    According to Michael Arrington, earlier this year Plaxo was malignant, but now it’s benign.

  • Chet

    I am loathe to trust anyone but me with my own data, and hate the idea that an associate of mine may decide to use Plaxo, and that Plaxo may later decide to use all those contact records for marketing purposes. It really doesn’t matter what they say NOW; it’s only a matter of time until they change their mind, or until someone decides the address lists are incentive enough to crack them.

    Ergo: bollox to Plaxo. I’d find a local tool.

  • Chad

    I also use Plaxo, and it’s a much improved service from the spammy days of email notifications from all your friends.

    That said, you might start by going to the Card menu in your OS X Address Book and selecting the “Look for Duplicate Entries…” item.

  • Joe Gakenheimer

    Seems like Thunderbird aka Mozilla’s email software has an addin to do such address book “cleanups.”

  • gerry

    This also looks interesting (althugh I have not tried them myself)…