Keeping in contact after phone loss |

Keeping in contact after phone loss

Photo for The Union John Hart
Jorn Hart | The Union

I have a teenage friend who posted this question on Facebook: “I lost my cell phone and all my contacts. Here’s my new number. Please text me with your contact information, so I can put it into my phone.” Isn’t there some way to make sure the kid doesn’t lose her contacts the next time she loses her phone?

I guess it is a foregone conclusion that your friend will lose her phone again sometime in the future. I’m a little nervous about her posting her phone number on Facebook and even more worried about all of her little friends who posted their phone numbers on Facebook in response to the question. The first rule of Facebook: Don’t post phone numbers on Facebook!

But Facebook privacy is not the point in question. The point is: How do you avoid losing your contacts when you lose your phone?

The answer is so simple that it pains us to hear about anyone ever losing contact info. The simple, free solution: Set up a free email account online. Gmail is one of the simplest and most popular free email accounts. Enter your contact information there, so it’s stored online. Then sync up your phone with your Gmail account. Any smart phone can do this, including Android, iPhone, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. (If you currently have a phone and want to set this up, create the Gmail account, and then sync your phone and its contacts to that account. That’s all there is to it!)

Once you have an online set of contacts, if you lose your phone, your contacts are still stored in your Gmail account online. Once you get a new phone, sync it up with your Gmail account and all your contact information appears on the new phone.

The nice part about this solution is that it makes it possible to share your contact information with any device and any computer. Not only will the same contact information be available if you’re using Gmail from within a web browser, but you can sync Gmail contacts with the Mac Address Book and, with some effort, with Microsoft Outlook and other client applications.

But whatever you do, don’t put personal email online on Facebook: Sooner or later you will come to regret it.

Personalize email

signatures on iPhone

Every time I send an email from my iPhone, the message includes the footer “Sent from my iPhone” at the bottom. This seems silly to me, and completely unnecessary. Can I change the footer so it’s more personal?

We agree — that footer seems like the is saying “Look at me — I’m cool ’cause I have an iPhone.” In 2008, that may have been a reasonable assertion, but it’s not the case in 2013. Even more importantly, our guess is that you generally don’t want people to know that you’re sending from a mobile device, which is a good indication (for many people) that you’re responding while away from home. And this is, in general, information you don’t want to be sending out.

Of course, Apple wants everyone to know that you have their flagship mobile device, so they configure the phone to include the obligatory self-congratulatory message in the footer by default. Luckily, that footer information is easy to change (and you should).

On your phone, run the Settings app. Select the Mail, Contacts, Calendars option, and under the Mail section of options, find the Signature option. If you’re running an early version of the operating system (and if so, you should consider upgrading the operating system), you’ll see an option to change your signature. If you’re running a later version, you’ll see an option to select a signature for all accounts, or per account (assuming you have more than one email account configured on the phone). Select the appropriate option and fill in a new signature, replacing the default text.

You cannot specify a separate signature for new messages as opposed to replies or forwarded messages, and you can’t have extra signatures that you can assign individually while writing the email, like you can with Outlook or other email applications.

Certainly, take the time to customize the signature. You won’t be advertising the fact that you’re replying to emails from your phone (indicating that you are perhaps away from home) and you won’t look like a clone of every other iPhone user!

Doug Behl and Ken Getzspent years answering technical questions in private, and are minimizing the questions by pre-emptively publishing the answers. Hear Doug and Ken’s tech tips on KNCO radio weekdays at around 8:21a.m. and 5:38 p.m.; find full write-ups including links to the products they mention at Submit your own technical questions to

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