Google Contacts in Outlook

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Google has licensed Microsoft’s ActiveSync, allowing us to sync Google Calendar and Contacts directly with an iPhone or a Windows Mobile device. HOORAY! If you’re an Outlook user for whatever reason (mine is because I have years of archived Outlook emails that I need to keep searchable), and you use Google Calendar and Contacts, you’re also most likely aware that there are few if any good, free utilities for bi-directional syncing of contacts between Google and Outlook. Why Google doesn’t include contact sync in their otherwise-useful Google Calendar Sync I have no idea.

So instead of trying to sync Outlook contacts with Google, I decided to abandon using Outlook for contact management and instead switch to Google Contacts so I can take advantage of the new ActiveSync option. But now I have to open up and log into Gmail to find contacts while everything else is in Outlook! That’s not going to work. Instead, I’m going to view my Google Contacts directly from Outlook.

How to View Google Contacts Directly from Outlook

There are two hacks at work here. The first one is viewing Google Contacts as a standalone site instead of through Gmail. That one comes from the good folks at Lifehacker.com. The second is configuring the Outlook Contacts drawer in the main navigation pane to point to a URL instead of the standard contacts view.

All of the steps take place in Outlook, and this should work in 2003 and 2007 (I’m using 2007).

  1. Click on the Contacts drawer
  2. contact_drawer.jpg

  3. Go to File > Folder > Properties for “Contacts”…
  4. Click the “Home Page” tab in the new dialog box
  5. In the “Address” field, type http://www.google.com and check the “Show home page by default for this folder” box. Click OK. The main Google web page should appear within Outlook.
    outlook_mod_1.jpg
  6. Log into Google. Be sure to check “Stay signed in.”
  7. google_login.jpg

  8. Go back to File > Folder > Properties for “Contacts”… and click the “Home Page” tab
  9. Enter the following URL into the “Address” field: https://mail.google.com/mail/contacts/ui/ContactManager – and click OK
  10. outlook_mod_2.jpg

And that should do it! You’re now able to manage your Google Contacts directly from Outlook. The only loss of Outlook functionality I can think of with this trick is the ability to create a new contact directly from an Outlook email.