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You probably know the basics of how to add a person or a business to your Contacts on your smartphone. You type in a First Name, Last Name or Company Name, and then add a phone number. You might add an email address, too. That’s pretty simple, and that’s where lots of people stop because it’s enough to find the phone number or email to contact the person or business.

However, with a few extra steps, a little more data entry, and by tweaking some settings, you can improve how you use your phone.

Add a recent caller to contacts

Both iPhone and Android make it easy to create a new address book contact using the Recent Calls (on an iPhone) or the Call Log/History (on Android). After the call, if you tap on the phone icon, you will see a choice for recent calls, call log or call history. Tap on one of those, then to the right of the phone number there is an “info” button, represented by an “i” in a circle on an iPhone and a similar choice on Android. Tap that button to create a new contact from the phone number, or add the phone number to one of your existing contacts.

Caller ID can include names and pictures

Everyone is familiar with caller ID – generally, you see the phone number of the incoming call. However, if the phone number belongs to a Contact in your Address Book, the caller’s name will also appear on the screen. To add a photo to the contact information, click on Edit, then tap Add Photo below the icon at the top of the contact, which is typically a large circle with the contact’s initials.

You can pick any picture from the Photos app on your phone, or you can take a new picture with the phone’s camera. After selecting a picture, you can crop it to get only the part you want to use. Cropping lets you extract an image of someone from a group shot, as well as focus on the face in an individual picture.

Pull up a map for walking or driving directions

The contact lists on both Android phones and iPhones are integrated with Google and Apple mapping apps. If you enter the contact’s address, the contact shows a small map window next to or below the address information that you entered. If you have enabled Location Services in Settings, you can get turn-by-turn directions from your current location to the contact’s address in addition to seeing the map.

Customize ring tones and text message tones

You can easily change your phone’s default ring tones and sound effects for messages to customize the sound for each contact on your phone. This makes it easy to identify who is contacting you just by listening to the ring tone/sound effect. Select your contact and click on the Edit option to change the ring tone and text tone for that individual.

The process is similar on Android and iPhone to change the sound settings in general. For iPhone, go to Settings and select Sounds & Haptics (haptics are vibrations or pulses that you feel through your phone). On an Android phone, haptics are called Haptic Feedback. You’ll see a long list of options to choose from. The first few are about turning on vibrations when your phone is silenced, or vibrations used in conjunction with the sound effects when your phone isn’t silenced.

You’ll see options to pick different patterns and tones for different actions and apps on your phone. It’s easy to experiment and listen to different ring tones and other sounds on both iPhones and Android – you can always change your mind and try a different one, or reset everything back to the default settings.

Classify frequently called numbers as favorites

Instead of searching your contact list each time for numbers you call frequently, you can save time by adding the contact phone number to a list of Favorites. You go to the contact, then tap Add to Favorites (you don’t need to edit the contact to do this). You can separately add Home, Work and/or Mobile phone numbers to the Favorites list. You can also decide to add the contact to favorites as a video or audio call using Wi-Fi through FaceTime (Apple) or Google Chat (Android). Customize the labels used for the phone numbers

When you create a new contact, the default label for the phone number is home. If you tap on home , you will get a list of other standard choices (including work, school, mobile, main, fax, pager and other). At the end of the list you’ll see Add Custom Label – you can use this option to uniquely label the phone numbers with something more meaningful, which is especially useful for business phone numbers.

Use the Notes field to list relevant information

You can add any kind or relevant information in the Notes field within a contact – a membership card number, the name of the person you spoke to last time you called, reservation numbers, product serial numbers, etc.

You can also put keywords in your notes so that a particular contact can be found when you search your contacts, even if the keyword doesn’t appear in the company name of the contact. For example, you can add the keyword “cardiologist” to the notes section of a doctor or “endodontist” in the notes section of a dentist to find health professionals by their specialties.

Designate In-Case-of-Emergency (ICE) phone numbers and contacts See the Tech Tips article “Add Emergency Contact Info to your Smartphone” in the Jan. 30, 2019, issue of the Rossmoor News on page 27A.

Have a tech question or want to see an archive of previous Tech Tips columns? Go to the Computer Club website at and click on the LINKS menu choice at the top-right of the page.

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