A Comprehensive Guide to Google’s Other Contacts

Have you ever seen “Other Contacts” in your Google account and been curious about what they are? This feature is a separate repository for contacts that Google automatically creates based on various Gmail interactions. In this tutorial, I’ll explain “Other contacts ” and what you can and can’t do with them.

Two Contact Repositories

One nice thing about Google Contacts is that the contact record is accessible through a mobile app on your smartphone or a webpage. If you’re a new Gmail user, you may be surprised that a dedicated page shows your contacts and their contact information. You can find it at: https://contacts.google.com/ .

When you glance at the left navigation panel, you’ll notice there are two links for contacts. The first is the main Contacts section. It contains people you’ve manually added to contacts or imported records from a CSV file or vCard.

Google Contacts panel with Other contacts highlighted.
Other contacts appear in the lower part

The second repository, Other contacts, is just above the Trash link. If you use lots of contact labels, you may miss them.

If you don’t see a link on the left, you can enter https://contacts.google.com/other in your browser.

What are “Other contacts”?

This last group, called “Other contacts,” is a separate contact repository and often confuses people. Google may automatically create these entries. For example, if you sent an email to a support address, that email address would show in “Other Contacts.” You didn’t save the email address explicitly, but Google did based on your Gmail settings. 

This contact creation is done as a convenience for you so that the email address can appear as an auto-complete entry. The thinking is these email addresses are not frequently used, so they aren’t a priority. And, unlike default contacts, you won’t see a contact count.

Any Google contact you elect to “hide” will move from the Contacts area to Other Contacts unless the contact has one or more labels applied. Then, the contact will show under the label but not in Contacts or Other contacts.

You might not see the navigation entry and list of contacts on mobile devices, such as Android devices. However, you can find the desired contact record using the search bar. Moreover, the “Other contacts”. show after your primary contacts on your phone.

Other Contact shows below main contacts in search.

As with regular Google contacts, you will see the contact details if you click the entry. However, it’s pretty limited. Sometimes, you’ll see an image associated with an email. Often, you’ll see a generic-colored icon if you’re using the “comfortable” display list setting.

Interacting with Other contacts

By design, there are limited actions you can take on these contacts. For example, you can’t add a photo or custom fields. Furthermore, the Edit button doesn’t show. 

You can quickly move an entry from “Other contacts” into your main contacts by clicking the Add to Contacts icon.

Other contacts example with Add to Contacts button highlighted.
Add to Contacts button

After you move a contact, you can edit its details or star it.

Moved contact with Edit button.
Edit button now shows

Contacts App on Phone

On your mobile phone, go to your Contacts app. Click Merge and fix. In the middle of the screen is a link for Add people you email often

Mobile app with Add People you email often.
Add people you email often

A list will appear. You can either Dismiss an entry or click Add contact.  

Desktop Contacts

The desktop provides more options because you have additional display options.

  1. Go to https://contacts.google.com
  2. Click on Other Contacts toward the lower left.
  3. Click the 3 dot More actions button.
  4. Select Display density.
  5. Choose Compact mode.
  6. Click Done.

Your contact list should now have the contact icon replaced with a checkbox. This allows you to select one or more Google Contacts.

Compact display mode and selected contacts.
Multiple contacts selected
  1. From the toolbar at the top, click the Add to contacts icon. It’s the one with the + sign and person profile.

Finding Missing Contact Details

Part of the problem with Other contacts is that you don’t have much information. It can be a big tease. Sometimes, I’ll look at the contact and draw a blank. Many times, it doesn’t matter if it’s a generic support email address, as I didn’t have a name to begin with. Other times, I want to know more details before deciding what to do.

For example, in going through my list, I spotted a name and couldn’t place it. I also didn’t recognize the domain name showing on the email address. And since there weren’t any related conversations, I was at a loss. However, ContactOut provided the missing contact data for me. The service has multiple plans and a free tier.

ContactOut search portal

Moreover, I could export various contact records from Google and save them as a CSV file. I then stripped everything but the email addresses and uploaded them to ContactOut. The service returned an Excel file with LinkedIn Profile data.

Deleting Other Contacts

After seeing the list of Other Contacts, some people may wish to delete all of them. The process is easy. However, the contacts won’t show in Trash like your main Google Contacts. Instead, you’ll need to do a special recovery process.

  1. Click Other Contacts from the left pane.
  2. Click the icon or checkbox for the first item on your contact list.
  3. Click the triangle to the right of the blue square icon on the mini toolbar.
  4. From the drop-down menu, select All.
  5. Each entry should be checked and to the far right will be a selected record count.
  6. From the mini toolbar, select the 3 dot More actions button.
  7. From the drop-down menu, select Delete.
  8. On the Delete selected contacts? dialog, click Delete.

It may take a bit to delete based on your many entries. During this process, the contact list will be displayed in a lighter color.

Be Careful with Labels

Adding a label to a contact helps with organization, but it seems to put the contact in what I call “no mans land.” In other words, applying a label to an “Other contact” gets removed from Other contacts. But it doesn’t get added to Contacts.

A similar situation happens if you take a regular contact with a label and select “Hide from contacts.” The record can’t be found in either category. However, you can still search for these records in their respective labels.

How to Stop Creating Google Contacts

Some people prefer not to have Google automatically add contacts. You can quickly turn off this feature within your Gmail account settings.

  1. Open your Gmail page.
  2. From the top right, select the gear icon.
  3. From the top of the side panel, click See all settings.
  4. On the General tab, scroll down to Create contacts for auto-complete.
  5. Select the radio button, I’ll add contacts myself.
  6. Scroll to the bottom and click the Save Changes button.

In this tutorial, I have outlined how Other Contacts are created and differ from your main contacts. You should have enough information to move some to your main database, delete them, or turn the feature off.

Key Points & Takeaways

  • Google’s Other Contacts is a feature that automatically saves contacts from your Gmail interactions.
  • These contacts are stored in a separate repository within your Google account.
  • The feature is designed for convenience, allowing these email addresses to appear as auto-complete entries
  • Any Google contact you elect to “hide” will move from the Contacts area to Other Contacts unless the contact has a label applied.
  • Unlike regular Google contacts, the contact details for Other Contacts are limited.
  • You can quickly move an entry from “Other Contacts” into your main contacts by clicking the Add to Contacts icon.
  • The desktop version of Google Contacts provides more options for managing Other Contacts.
  • Adding a label to a contact can remove it from Other Contacts.
  • You can turn off the feature that automatically adds contacts to Other Contacts.