How to convert a standard app to "Contact" app type

If you are using a standard app to manage your contacts, you might like to convert it to the "Contact" app type (released December 2015). When your app is of this type, it will have a number of default and unremovable fields like "name" and "email address", which will allow you to take advantage of third-party extensions such as PieSync.

Tip: This process includes the duplication of data and removal of the original data. It is probably a good idea to make a clone of the app (with data!) that you are converting, just in case something goes wrong in the process.

This conversion can be done with the following steps for apps with no more than 20,000 items:

  1. Enable Unique ID in the Advanced tab of the app settings (if not already enabled) (see image below)
  2. Export all items in the app, including the Unique ID and any fields with emails, phone numbers and all other fields that should go mapped to a specific contact type field.
  3. Convert the app to a contact type app (see image below), adding all the fields that cannot be directly mapped. For example, "Name" can probably be mapped to an existing text field you already have with the contact's name. On the other hand, if you were using a text field for the contact's email address, it cannot be mapped because the contact app type expects this field to be an email field. In such cases, choose "Create new field" to create a new email field as part of the conversion.
  4. Now the app has a number of newly added fields (for example "Email"), temporarily rename the duplicate fields that could not be directly mapped. For instance you can name the original field "Old_email" and keep the new set to "Email".
  5. Do a Excel import of the exported data back into the app.
  6. Map the Unique ID from the exported data to the Unique ID in the app.
  7. Map the old fields that needs to be converted into a new field type to the corresponding newly added field (ie. map the "Old_email" text field to the new "Email" email field.)
  8. Let the import finish.
  9. Delete the old fields that are now duplicates, like the "Old_email" field. When you delete the old one, you can also delete the data (as it has been copied over). Be cautious in this step: make sure to delete the right field and that the import was successful, so that the data has indeed be duplicated into the new field!
  10. Optional: Disable Unique ID again
  11. All done. You know have a contact type app with the correct data in the correct fields.

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