So how many users do you think are on Gmail now? A quick Google search reveals roughly 500 million (that’s about 1/8th of all email users in the world right now).
So how many of them do you think use Google Contacts? Given that it’s Gmail’s default address book, I’d guess 90% plus.
So how many do you think use the contact groups feature? Given that it’s the easiest way to email the same group of contacts rather than typing their addresses over and over, I’m guessing at least 25%.
That means there’s a good chance that at least 100 million people have this simple problem: if a member of a contact group has more than one email address…how do you specify which email address(es) to use for that contact in that group???
It turns out this is a must-have feature of a contact group. I work in high tech, so maybe my contacts are an exception, but nearly 100% of them have more than one email address. And it’s very important for me to use the right email address in the right context, or else I run risk of at least sending the email to the wrong inbox and at worst sending my contact a signal that I’m an idiot and don’t respect his/her boundaries.
And what is exquisitely ironic is that almost nothing establishes context better than a contact group. A company board of directors contact group obviously should use a work email address. A book club contact group obviously should use a personal email address. Of course there are exceptions, but that’s the whole point: you must to be able to precisely control which email address to use for each contact group or you might as not use contact groups at all.
Which is exactly why I have NOT used contact groups with Google Contacts for the last five years. They just didn’t support that feature.
Or at least I could not for the life of me find it. I tried searching at least a half-dozen times.
I finally got frustrated enough again tonight to decide that Google MUST have fixed this by now. So I did another search for it. And by god, this time I actually found it. At the bottom of this three year long discussion of the problem on a Google product forum.
Look at the second-to-last entry. It reads:
Ed, they didn’t make it obvious, but it’s there. Open a contact. At the top, under the contact’s name, you should see a list of contact groups that the contact belongs to. To the right of each group’s name, there should be a small triangle. If you click that triangle, it will give you a list of email addresses for the contact, and allow you to check the address(es) that you want to belong to that particular group. Make sure you click “Apply” when you’re done.
Here’s a picture to show you exactly how this works:
Now here’s the supreme irony. The entry was dated 2/3/11.
Unbelievable. The fix has been in place for over four years and I was never able to find it.
So how many of those 100 million Google Contacts group users do you think have been able to figure this out?
Postscript: logging into my personal Gmail account tonight, I noticed they have a new UI for Contacts. And guess what? The group member email address selection feature is gone again.
What is Google thinking?