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iOS Contacts filled with blank lines - slows down navigation, productivity

Posted on 2014-11-25
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Last Modified: 2015-02-26
(I have seen a similar problem addressed/resolved at EE)

In the process of syncing my Google contacts and my Apple contacts (aka iCloud contacts) hundreds of blank lines have been inserted with individual's notes.

What sounds like merely an antithetical concern, is growing into a serious problem. These blank lines are so copious that navigating my contacts brings my iPad and iPhone to a crawl. Often I can't even use the contacts without a 15-second lag from when I try to scroll or edit.

Within the notes section, I keep very important lists for each contact. There are nearly 1000 such contacts. Recently, blank spaces, like return paragraphs have begun appearing within each client's list. Removing these by hand is not an option -- too slow and jeopardizes good content.

I have read that this has to do with a difference in coding language (I think). Something do with CR LF (Windows), LF (Unix) and CR (Macintosh) line break types.

Anyway, it has ruined my address book.

My ultimate goals:

Remove blank lines with Notes in iPad / iPhone / Mac
Have a functional address book on my iOS devices with lists in the notes section that I may continue to expand.

I have little time, but a lot of resources, including, but not limited to:

- Mac
- PC
- Gmail
- Apple Mail
- iCloud (web-based)
- iPhone running 8
- iPad (3rd gen running iOS 8)
- Outlook
- MS Office and Office 365 (in case using Excel or Word would help)
- a good working knowledge of Mac and PC and all items above

Please help. This is kicking my behind.

NOTE: I have already . . . .
. . . exported the contacts from gmail, imported into Excel, did a fair job of find/replace "newlines" (\N) with nothing. That seemed to help, but I messed up the mapping when I brought it back into the address book.
. . . vcf to excel ... worked a little but inconsistent results, likely due to the complex spreadsheet it created that was unmanageable.
. . . tried several 3rd-party iOS and MacOS and W7 apps/programs for converting / "cleaning" address books. No luck. Often just messed up my mapping.
. . . manually deleting hundreds of thousands of new lines -- causing insanity.

I am confident you experts can walk me step by step through resolving this. I'm a good student with Apple Certification. So, this should be a cake walk. Start the music.

Thank you.
Chris Leeds
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Question by:Chris Leeds
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Expert Comment

by:SimonAdept
ID: 40473165
Hi Chris, is the problem continuing to worsen, or did it occur at one particular event e.g. when you mixed Google and iCloud contacts?

re:
"exported the contacts from gmail, imported into Excel, did a fair job of find/replace "newlines" (\N) with nothing. That seemed to help, but I messed up the mapping when I brought it back into the address book."

Do you mean you have data in the wrong fields now e.g. mobile phone number in Work phone number field, or notes lines in the address field?
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Author Comment

by:Chris Leeds
ID: 40505145
simon,

 thank you for your interest in helping solve this problem. I acquired this "situation," so I cannot say for certain what actually produced the numerous blank lines within the notes section of individual "cards" in MacOS and iOS Contacts.

I realize that I also have not given a very clear illustration of what I'm dealing with in contacts
NOTES:
Line 1 of information.
Line 2 of information.
Line 3 of information.
Line 4 of information.
(Blank line)
(Blank line)
(Blank line)
(Blank line)
... (there may be up to 100 or so of these blank lines before the initial information repeats itself.)
Line 1 of information.
Line 2 of information.
Line 3 of information.
Line 4 of information.
(Blank line)
(Blank line)
(Blank line)
(Blank line)
... it repeats this pattern over and over.

Bear in mind my customer is having to actually use this database on a daily basis. So she simply goes to the very very very end of the information to add the latest lines of information.

Just my observation, but I think that the undesired addition of a new blank lines happens:
• each time that a sync is done between the Apple and Google contacts.
    - or -
• when the iPhone is allowed to merge contacts each time the contacts feature is enabled or disabled under the Google account (settings > mail contacts calendars > google account > contacts (on / off)

Since I don't know the actual cause, I can't reproduce the problem knowingly. Rather, when I acquired this situation my immediate objective was to stop any new blank lines from occurring. That's done.

One of my early attempts to remove the lines was by getting the contacts out of the iPhone and into Excel. There I was able to crudely remove the \N or \n with find/replace. However, when I went to return that information into Apple Contacts (address book on the mac), it was very difficult to import the information onto the right fields.

 I've tried several third-party programs that tout their ability to "clean up" or strip blank or "empty" lines without success. When I try these programs, they just freeze up or crash even after waiting a long time to process information. I attribute this to the sheer volume of the either the contacts (there's 1000) or the number of blank lines.

I hope this info helps in finding a solution. My client is raising doubts about my ability, but I explained that this was a complex problem and that I was looking for solution. I'd like to have one by the new year.

Thank you, and Happy Holiday.
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Accepted Solution

by:
Rob Jurd, EE MVE earned 500 total points
ID: 40505783
Hi,

Sounds like there could be multiple issues at play here but let's look at it one by one.

Firstly, where is the main database of contacts stored?  e.g. I have all my contacts on Google and have all my devices sync to it so I would class google as my central repository for contacts.  What you DON'T want is trying to maintain multiple databases i.e. Google + iCloud + Microsoft etc

Sounds like the immediate issue is to speed up the browsing of the contacts.  That would have an immediate impact and hopefully give you some kudos with your client.  Then I would look at why it is happening.
My first approach would also be to export the contacts from your central database to excel, removing the newlines and import back in.  If there is a mapping issue then I would be spending time fixing that because if you've got them out you should be able to get them back in.

Let's start with that and go from there.

Rob
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LVL 42

Expert Comment

by:Rob Jurd, EE MVE
ID: 40505784
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Author Comment

by:Chris Leeds
ID: 40634650
Thanks Rob & Simon. Your input was helpful, and I'm sure I'll get to put the suggestions in place eventually. The client who had this problem withheld some information, making all of this a moot point.

Since I repair computers for a living, I suspect we'll cross paths again.

I'll mark this as solved. My appreciation and apologies for the lag reply.

Sincerely,
Chris Leeds
Well Connected Life
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Author Closing Comment

by:Chris Leeds
ID: 40634652
See my last comment and Thank you
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