How to Restore Your Gmail Contacts to a Previous State

Businesswoman and computer
Lane Oatey/Blue Jean Images/Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images

Importing these contacts seemed like a good idea. Now, of course, your Gmail contacts are a total mess. How will you be able to find what you've just added to delete it?

Fortunately, you don't have to. Whether importing went haywire, whether you deleted a contact without meaning to, or whether synchronizing your Gmail contacts with your phone messed up the whole shebang, you need not worry—if any of that happened in the last 30 days.

That's how long Gmail keeps automatically created backup snapshots for your Gmail address book. Restoring your entire Gmail contacts to the state in which it was at any point in that time is a snap.

Restore Your Gmail Contacts to a Previous State from Backups Kept Automatically for You

To recover the state of your Gmail contacts from any point in the last 30 days:

  1. Go to Contacts in Gmail.
    1. Tip: Click Gmail to the left of your Gmail inbox, for example, and select Contacts from the menu that has appeared.
  2. Click More in the left navigation bar, beneath your address book Labels.
  3. Select Undo changes.
  4. Choose the time to which you want your Contacts restored.
    1. Tips: Select Custom to choose a precise moment. Do remember to enter the difference between the desired time and now. It is usually safe to pick a time a little bit greater.
    2. If you turned on contact synchronization yesterday in the evening, for example, and made no significant changes before that yesterday, you can enter 30 over Hours.
  5. Click CONFIRM.

To restore a previous state of your Gmail address book using the old version of Gmail contacts:

  1. Click More actions in Gmail Contacts.
  2. Select Restore contacts… from the menu.
  3. Pick the desired point in time under Please select a time to restore to:.
    1. Note that anything that happened to your contacts since then will be undone. Contacts you may have deleted will be restored; contacts you have added or imported will disappear.
    2. See below for exporting and re-importing any added contacts you want to preserve.
  4. Click Restore.

Preserve Recently Added Contacts Beyond Gmail Address Book Restoration

To export contacts you have added after the point to which you will restore your Gmail address book:

  1. Make sure you are using the old version of Gmail Contacts: follow the In Go to the old version link at the bottom of the left navigation bar.
  2. Select New Group… in the left navigation bar.
  3. Enter a name for the group such as "contacts to be re-imported".
  4. Click OK.
  5. For all contacts you want to re-import:
    1. Search for or spot the desired contact.
    2. Make sure it is checked.
    3. Click Groups.
    4. Make sure the "contacts to be re-imported" group is checked.
    5. Click Apply if necessary.
  6. Now click More actions.
  7. Select Export… from the menu.
  8. Make sure the group contacts to be re-imported is selected under Which contacts do you want to export?.
  9. Select Google CVS under Which export format?.
  10. Click Export.

After restoring your Gmail contacts to a previous state (see above), to recover wanted entries you may have lost during the process:

  1. Click More actions… in Gmail Contacts's old version.
  2. Select Import… from the menu.
  3. Find and select the "google.csv" file you previously saved under Please select a CSV or vCard file to upload:.
  4. Click Import.
  5. Now click OK.