I don't know how many times I've told you: set a security code on your smartphone and don't leave the phone out of reach of children, who could make a real mess. Did you listen to me? Of course not, and now you've got half of Gmail's address book deleted! How does it feel in situations like this? Desperate, right? You don't think you'll ever be able to retrieve the invaluable business contacts you had on your phone again, do you? But lucky for you, you're wrong!
Gmail, in fact, offers a handy "time machine" function that allows you to return your address book to a previous state (up to one month back) and then recover any contacts deleted from it in a handful of clicks. Once restored, the address book can then be synchronized with smartphones, tablets and computers in order to get back your favorite contacts on all devices without any effort.
Don't believe it? Then take a few minutes off, find out how to get your contacts from Google using the directions below and try it yourself. You'll be amazed at how easily you can retrieve all the names that were deleted from your Gmail address book and download them back to your devices. Don't tell me I'm not always ready to help you... even though you don't always follow my advice to the letter!
How to Recover Deleted Contacts from Google
Have you deleted a callsign from Google contacts and are desperate because you don't know how to retrieve it? Don't worry: as mentioned at the beginning of the post, you can easily remedy the situation by returning Gmail's address book to a previous state.
To return your Gmail address book to a previous state, connect to the Google Contacts service, log into your account (if necessary), click on the ☰ button at the top left and select Return to previous version from the bar on the side. The old version of the Google Contacts service will open.
Now click the More button at the top, select the Restore Contacts item from the menu that appears and select one of the available options: Ten minutes ago, One hour ago, Yesterday or One week ago, depending on the date or time you want to restore your Gmail address book.
If you want to restore your address book to a date earlier than "a week ago", place a checkmark next to the Customize item and use the days, hours, and minutes drop-down menus to specify the date you want to return your Google contacts to (for up to 29 days, 23 hours, and 59 minutes).
Finally, click the Restore button and Gmail's address book will be restored to the state it was in on the selected date, recovering the contacts that were deleted from it. Now all you have to do is synchronize Gmail's address book with your devices to retrieve the names you erroneously deleted from the address book. In the following sections of the guide, you will find an explanation of how to act on various platforms and devices.
Note: the procedure I just illustrated concerns the desktop version of the Google Contacts service but, if you want, you can also follow the same steps from your smartphone or tablet using the browser you usually use to surf the Internet from them (e.g. Chrome on Android and Safari on iOS).
Retrieving Google contacts on Android
Once you have returned Google's address book to the state it was in before you deleted the contacts you want to retrieve, you can activate its synchronization on your devices.
If you use an Android terminal, the first step you need to take is to open the settings app (the gear icon located on the home screen or on the screen with the list of all the apps installed on the device) and choose the Account item within it.
Next, tap on the Add Account item, then on the Google logo and log in to your Gmail account by typing your email address or phone number and password in the appropriate screenshots. When you're done, tap the Next button and make sure your contacts are synchronized in your account settings.
To check if your smartphone (or tablet) has contacts synced with Google's address book on it, do the following: Open the settings app, go to Account > Google and select your Gmail address from the screen that opens.
Now, if it is not there yet, move the contact stick to ON and, if you want, also activate the synchronization of other data, choosing between calendar, app data, Google Fit, people details, Drive, Gmail, Google News, Google Play Film, Google Play Books, Google Play Music, etc..
Mission accomplished! From now on, you can find Gmail's address book contacts in the Google Contacts app and/or the Contacts app installed on your device by default. If you've set up more than one account in the Google Contacts app (whether they're all Gmail accounts or accounts for other email services such as Outlook.com), you can choose which address book to display by pressing the ☰ button at the top left, then pressing the down arrow at your email address and selecting the service for which you want to display your contacts.
Retrieving Google contacts on iOS
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can easily sync your device's address book with Gmail. The first step is to go to your iOS settings (the gear icon on the home screen) and select Account and Password from the screen that opens.
Now, tap Add Account, select Google from the list of available services and log in to your Gmail account by first entering your email address or phone number and then your login password. To finish, choose whether you want to synchronize your contacts only or also your mail, calendars and notes with iOS and tap the Save button in the upper right corner to finish the process.
Within a few minutes, the Contacts app on your iPhone or iPad will populate with the names from Google's address book. To view only names related to your Gmail account, not those related to iCloud or other accounts, tap on the Groups tab in the top left corner, leave a checkmark next to the All (Gmail) tab, and press the Finish button in the top right corner.
Retrieve Google contacts on Windows 10
If you use a computer equipped with Windows 10 and want to synchronize Google's address book with it, click on the Start button (the flag icon located in the lower left corner of the screen), search for the Contacts application in the search bar that appears on the screen and select the first occurrence found (i.e. the Contacts app).
In the window that opens, click the Start button first and then the Import Contacts button, then select the Google logo from the list of supported services and log in with your Gmail account details (by answering Allow and then Done to the alert that appears on the screen).
Mission accomplished! Now press the Ready for button and you will be shown the list of contacts imported on your computer, i.e. the names of Google's address book, including those that you deleted by mistake (assuming you have returned the address book to a previous state by following the instructions in the first chapter of this tutorial).
If you've set up more than one account in the Windows 10 Contacts app, you can view only those in Gmail by clicking on the funnel icon in the left sidebar, checking only next to the Gmail entry in the on-screen box, and clicking the Done button.
Retrieve Google contacts on macOS
Do you have a Mac? No problem. You can sync your Gmail contacts and import them into your default MacOS address book in a few simple clicks. For starters, open System Preferences (the gear icon on the Dock Bar) and select Internet Accounts from the window that opens.
Now, select Google from the list of available services and log in to your Gmail account by first entering your username (i.e. your Gmail address) and then your password in the box that opens. Then choose whether to synchronize only your contacts or also your emails, calendars, and notes with your Mac, and press the Finish button to complete the setup.
From now on, you can find Gmail contacts in the Contacts application of macOS (accessible through the Other folder of Launchpad or Spotlight search) and they will be constantly synchronized with the servers of "big G", so all changes made on your computer or Gmail will be reflected on all devices associated with the same account.
If you have configured more than one address book in the MacOS Contacts app but only want to view Gmail contacts, select the All (Google) entry from the left sidebar.
Retrieving Google contacts on Outlook
Are you using Microsoft Outlook as an email client? In this case, if you want to synchronize the program's contacts with Google's address book, you have to use GO Contact Sync Mod: a free, open source program that allows you to synchronize your Gmail contacts one-way or two-way with your Outlook address book.
The software is very easy to use and works with all the more or less recent versions of Office, from 2003 to 2016. You can find out in more detail how it works by reading my tutorial on how to synchronize your Gmail contacts.