I maintain a personal mailing list of my most frequent contacts, which is basically used to send holiday greetings. Through the years I laboriously added new contacts, and removed the ones I hadn’t messaged in a while. This year I decided to create an app to do this automagically: Email Contacts Extractor.
I decided so after exploring various options to export my contacts from Gmail. Below are the top ones, and why I think my app was necessary. Either if you want to create a personal mailing list or backup your email contacts, these are the top options you should consider.
Export from Gmail (free)
Google makes a serious effort to allow users to export their personal data, and Gmail is no exception. Gmail provides free built-in support to export all your email contacts as a CSV with just a few clicks.
When you select All contacts, Gmail differentiates between a contact and an email address. This is particularly useful if you’re planning to build a personal mailing list. Robot accounts (no-reply@) and spammers should be ignored, resulting in a list of mostly humans who interacted with you at some point in time.
Unfortunately, the exported file tells you very little about how you interacted with these contacts. When was the last time you contacted them? How many times? I find this information is essential to minimize the risk of spamming people who barely know you.
Gmail does provide a Most Contacted list limited to the top 20 contacts, which I found too restrictive.
PRO: free and does a good job at filtering your contacts.
CON: does not provide information about how you interacted with them.
There are various paid online services that automatically update your address book as your receive email. WriteThat.name, a fellow Seedcamp company, is the best-looking one and can also scan past email for an extra fee.
I say “best-looking” because I haven’t tested it, for a very simple reason: I’m not comfortable giving access to my email to third-parties. Security leaks happen, companies disappear, or need to make cash quickly, and I don’t like my email to be involved in any of that.
If you don’t have my privacy concerns, WriteThat.name looks like a great solution. At the date of writing this article, extracting all your contacts would cost you $59 the first year.
I might give it a try when they are acquired by Google.
PRO: looks good.
CON: privacy concerns and costs a bit of money.
Email Contacts Extractor ($19.99)
Wouldn’t it be nice to have an app that:
- can export your email contacts
- without giving access to your email to anyone
- and by providing context about how you interacted with them?
Email Contacts Extractor is Mac app that does exactly that, and I built it myself for myself. It extracts all your email contacts from Mac OS X Mail or Outlook in just a few minutes, and saves them as a CSV file. You can then sort your contacts by name, last message date, rating or contact frequency. Works with Gmail and any other service that can be added to Mail via IMAP or POP. And has many more features.
I figured $19.99 was a fair price for such a utility and put it on sale on the Mac App Store. It sells a couple of units per day, which pays for the coffee I don’t drink.
PRO: does not have the CONs of the previous options.
CON: only for Mac.