Gmail's Newest Feature Lets You Restore Your Contacts

Q: I accidentally deleted some important contacts from my Gmail account. Is there a way to retrieve this information?

A: An employee at an AT&T store once lost all of my contacts -- and associated information -- when he attempted to complete the ("incredibly easy") task of migrating data from my old phone to my new phone. I was furious, but I definitely wasn't the first person to lose all of this information. Online forums and help databases are littered with angry notes from people who have lost hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of important contacts and had to rebuild their digital rolodexes from scratch.

To help make things a bit easier, Google has implemented a feature that allows all users to reverse any changes made to online contacts over a 30-day period. It's a small and simply change, but one that requires the dedication of considerable space on Google's servers.

RestoreContacts2.png

To use the feature, visit the Contacts section of your Gmail account, and select Restore Contacts from the More Actions drop-down menu. Choosing this command will bring up the dialog box shown above, where you can enter a custom time to restore to or choose one of several predetermined options.

"Your contacts will be restored to exactly the same state they were in at that time -- any contacts that didn't exist then will be deleted and any that have since been added will be deleted," Google explained in a blog post. "Don't worry, you can always undo this change by restoring again if you didn't get the time right."

Tools mentioned in this entry:

More questions? View the complete Toolkit archive.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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