How to set up Contact Groups in Android (Marshmallow / Lollipop)

In Android 5 (Lollipop), I had set up my contacts with groups that were easy to manage and follow. Eg: Friends, Family, etc. Did not understand how that categorization came about.

After applying the Android 6 (Marshmallow) upgrade, I realized that I could not set up Contact Groups. By habit, I had disabled unwanted system services and also Auto Sync.

Enabling Auto Sync did not help. However, after re-enabling Google Contacts Sync, I found that the groups were picked from my Google Account and put onto the phone. Now when adding the contact, I could select the Group to which I wanted to add the contact.

Going a step further, I had VCF files of all the contacts, each one representing the Group it belonged to. Importing these was easy, but for each of those contacts, I had to change the Group field to the right Group, because when you Export Contacts to a VCF file in Android, it does not include the Group in the VCF file.

So, going by what I have experienced, Google wants your contacts on-line. If they are kept local to the phone, then you will not be able to create and use Contact Groups. You have to sync with Google to get the Groups feature.

You can set up the Contact Groups in your Google Contacts using the Web interface to your Google Account. Thereafter, sync the Google Contacts with your Android phone and you should be able to see the Contact Groups. You can add Contact Groups as follows:

  • Login to your GMail account.
  • Look for the GMail just below Google on the top left of the web page and click on it. You will find Contacts within the list of options presented. Select it.
  • Here is where you can add a New Contact, or even a New Group.

Once done, log off and sync the Contact Groups to your Android phone.