Scrubly Wants to Help Clean Up Your Address Book

If you’re anything like me, you probably have several email address books, each with a daunting number of duplicate, conflicting and junk entries. Scrubly is a web app that can help to clean them up. It’s compatible with Gmail (s goog) and Google Apps, Outlook (s msft) and Apple Mail (s aapl) address books, and can scan contact folders and groups for duplicate contact entries, flagging them for review. You can remove duplicates with a click, or choose to selectively review and delete flagged entries individually.

Scrubly provides similar “de-duping” functionality to the Personal Assistant tool provided by unified online address book service Plaxo that I wrote about earlier this year, but it’s considerably cheaper and provides a few features the Plaxo tool doesn’t:

  • Address books are automatically backed up before cleaning them, so original files can be retrieved and restored at any time (reassuring if you’re concerned the de-duplication process may accidentally remove some entries you don’t intend it to).
  • It can automatically update Outlook, Gmail and Apple Mail address books after cleaning them up (Plaxo can also do this, but only if you pay for its Premium Sync service)
  • Scrubly groups compatible duplicate contacts together, merging them into one complete entry.

It’s easy to use: Just sign up, then either authorize the Scrubly app to connect to your Gmail/Google Apps accounts and/or download the clients for Outlook or Apple Mail. You can set up multiple address books in your Scrubly account; each one is scrubbed and backed up separately. When you hit the “scrub” button on an address book, Scrubly scans it, looking for duplicates, junk entries (those that contain very limited information, such as only a name) and “loose match” duplicates (entries that Scrubly thinks are probably duplicates but they aren’t exact matches; you need to review these individually). Once you’re happy with the results, you can re-import the scrubbed address book (or books) back into your email app (or apps).

If you have fewer than 250 contacts to clean up, Scrubly is free. More than that, and you can either opt for a one-time cleaning of address books with an unlimited number of contacts for $9.95 or buy an annual subscription, which costs $24.95. It worked pretty well in my testing, successfully de-duping both Gmail and Outlook address books. However, note that Scrubly only has de-duping tools; it doesn’t attempt to automatically keep your address books up-to-date like Plaxo’s Personal Assistant does, and it can’t connect with the variety of services Plaxo can, either. If you have a mass of contacts spread across various different email and social media accounts, and want to de-duplicate entries across all of them, Plaxo’s pricier service (which costs $79.95 per year) may be more useful. But if you’re simply looking for a way to clean duplicates from a particularly messy address book, Scrubly offers a simple and cost-effective solution, particularly as you can opt to pay for a one-time cleaning.