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Android Contacts - where do they all come from?

Posted on 2014-04-11
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-04-01
I am trying to figure out how my Samsung Galaxy Android phone has the contacts that is has.  It doesn't make much sense to me and I am hoping someone can explain it.

First, let me explain my setup.  I obviously have a gmail account, a yahoo email account, and my work MS Exchange ActiveSync account.  I don't use gmail contacts and I don't use yahoo contacts (both accounts have all contacts removed).  My primary contacts (and only contacts) are from my Exchange mailbox.  I have 102 contacts in my Outlook account on my PC, but my Samsung phone shows 136 contacts.

So when I look at the contacts in my phone I have a bunch of contacts that appear that are people who I work with, but they ARE NOT in my contacts folder in Outlook.

First question - I've manually sync'd a couple times with all my accounts, but my phone still has "extra" work contacts that I don't see in my Outlook contacts folder...where do these come from?

Second question - when using my work Outlook email (on my computer) all my co-workers have pictures assigned to them (when I send or receive emails from these people, the computer always shows their pictures).  A few of the contacts on my phone have these pictures, but other co-worker contacts in my phone DON'T show a picture.  For example, I have a contact record in my phone for Co-Worker #1 and my phone shows a picture of him.  Yet, Co-worker #1 is not listed in my Outlook Contacts.  How did my phone get this contact of Co-worker #1?

Third question - in my phone, there are some work contacts that are duplicates, but I don't have them in my contacts in Outlook.  I used to have these co-workers in my contact folder in Outlook but I removed them awhile back.  Why do they still stay in my phone contacts?  When I sync my phone with the exchange account shouldn't it clear out the contacts on the phone that no longer have corresponding entries in Outlook?

Fourth question - on my phone, why are the generic silhouette icon pictures different colors for my contacts?  On the contacts that don't have real pictures, the generic "person" image is different colors for all my contacts...blue, orange, red, blue-green.  Do these colors indicate something about the contacts?

I have verified on my phone that all the contacts displayed are from my exchange active sync account.  When I set the phone to show only contacts from "the device" or only from gmail, the contact list is empty.  So I know they are all coming from the exchange active sync account.  Any ideas on why the contacts don't match?  How did some of my phone contacts get their pictures associated with them from our server?

Question by:jbobst
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LVL 20

Accepted Solution

Iain MacMillan earned 2000 total points
ID: 39998422
you need to check ALL apps and accounts, most will come from Outlook/Exchange, but in your contacts menu, you should stipulate to only show the Exchange ones.  If you have LinkedIn, Skype and other social media apps, they may suck in contacts, I've been through this with several staff who had the same query with their company handsets.

when fully sync'ed, you should have pics for the staff that you have loaded in Outlook, but their could be the odd issue depending on your version of exchange and android -- you don't say which versions you have.

not sure about the last question, general consensus is that its random to break up the monotony of the large lists of contacts so your eye/brain processes them correctly as you scroll through

Author Comment

ID: 40009776
I have set it to only show exchange and don't have linkedIn, skype or any other social media.

I have a Samsung Galaxy S3, with Android version 4.3.  I believe our exchange server is 2010 version.

None of it makes sense (my contacts shown on my phone) and I am just going to call it software error/confusion.
LVL 20

Expert Comment

by:Iain MacMillan
ID: 40012123
you can set your contacts on Exch account to not sync, then wipe all the contact entries on the handset -- then re-enable the sync and you should have matching numbers of what you see on Outlook.  Used to have this issue on occasion with Blackberries -- manual sync via Desktop Manager usually fixed that.

Expert Comment

ID: 41531738
To help with your Fourth Question...

The varying colors of the contacts is not random on my phone (Galaxy S5).
Each time I add a contact it selects the next color in the sequence...
Blue, Green, Orange, Orange
Blue, Green, Orange, Orange...

It just looks untidy in the Contacts list, and I see no way of changing it - apart from adding a contact a few times until it's the color you want, and deleting the unwanted ones. You could also create some simple color pictures to assign to each profile picture (if you don't have their photo)

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