Customize Contact Phone Labels

Unlike most contact managers, our contact database lets you pick the labels and the order of the labels for all the contacts you add to our program. It is even possible (though not recommended) that every contact have their own individualized labels in their own order. For your own sanity, however, we recommend you attempt to be consistent across all your records, so this page is devoted to ways you can customize the phone labels and either plan ahead or retrofit the labels to meet your needs. At the end, you'll also find helpful tips for mobile devices like iPhone and Android, so don't miss the finish!

Planning Ahead

set all labels as my defaultsEvery new record you add or import will come up with the default phone labels filled out automatically. YOU control what this default is, so before you add a bunch of records or import a CSV or XLS file full of names, you should plan ahead and make certain you have the phone labels the way you like them.

If you already have some contacts, look for one that you could consider a template for the names to come or edit a name to get the labels just the way you like it.

The Labels side of this section have a drop-down list of predefined choices, but you could type your own custom labels, too, if need be. (Just keep in mind we also have a Custom Fields section to store bits of info that aren't points of contact like these fields are for).

Once you find a name or make a name just the way you like it, look for the little black arrow in the top right corner of this section. The second option is "Set all labels as my default" and you'll want to click on this to save your current labels as the template for all future names that get added.

To test this, you can return back to the main screen and attempt to add another New contact. You should find that the entry screen has the labels the way you saved them instead of the way they were before.

Please note that setting your default labels ONLY impacts FUTURE additions to your Contacts database. Changing your defaults will not edit existing names so no existing data will be squashed or changed to labels that doesn't match the number beside it. If you need to edit existing names, you'll want to know about retrofitting previous contacts, too.

Retrofitting previous contacts

So, what if you have already added a quantity of names but change your mind about how you want the labels? Or you are merging two databases with different phone labels? Or didn't read this article in time to plan ahead?

If you have Intellect or Time & Chaos, you have the power of our report screen to help you out. (Sorry Chaos Free users - this is one of the reasons to consider upgrading to one of these paid products!)

First, you'll want to set your default labels for new records as described in the Planning Ahead section above.

Second, take note of the POSITION of each of the phone numbers you need to move around or edit. There are twenty phone number and phone label fields, and they are numbered from top to bottom. In the picture above, "Business" is in Phone Label 1, "Home" is in Phone Label 2, "Cellular is in Phone Label 3, "FAX:" is in Phone Label 4 and so on.

Third, now might be a good time to make a backup of your data using the option on the File menu at the top right of the main screen. If you mess things up attempting your retrofit, restoring a recent backup is the best way to "undo".

Once you know the order in which you want the phone labels to end up, you can go to the Report screen by clicking the button in the bottom left (below Classic or to the left of the Classic button if you have minimized the navigation buttons in our program).

The Report screen has two way to modify your existing phone numbers: Find & Replace and Swap Fields. Find & Replace is the easiest to use and is perfect if you are adding some additional phone labels below the pre-existing ones. Swap Fields is a bit more complicated and more powerful as it can actually trade information around from one field to another. This way nothing is lost, only re-arranged!

To start off, you'll want to right-click on the current column headings in the Report screen to add columns for the fields you want to edit. If you are planning to just find and replace, you'll only need the Phone Label # fields. If you want to use the Swap Fields, you'll actually need to make two trades: one Phone Label with another and then the matching Phone Number with the other. So, you'll need to include all the phone labels and phone number fields you want to trade around.

Please note that when picking Phone (number) Fields, the selection menu and the column headings will show the current Default Label for these phone number fields. They are, however, still listed in the same 1 to 20 order as the Phone Label fields are so you'll want to make sure you have the fields that match the same order as the phone label fields you are including.

Once you have your columns ready, you can think about any search criteria you might have. If you are making the same changes to everyone in your Contacts list, you can go directly to the "Go" button on the left. If you only want to edit some names, such as the ones where Phone Label 4 is "Pager", you can use the Field, Logic and Value options on the left to be specific about what records you want before you hit "Go".

If you plan to just Find and Replace and you see the Phone Labels you are ready to replace, click the Find & Replace button and stay on the first tab for Find & Replace. You will get to choose which column to search (and replace), what you are looking for (such as "Contains anything or is blank") and finally what you want to set the new label to using Replace with:. 

If you plan to rearrange your data with Swap Fields, you still start by clicking the Find & Replace button, but then go to the second tab for Swap Fields. This screen will ask you for the two columns you wish to trade the information between. You would start by choosing the columns for the two phone label fields you wish to swap THEN you need to choose the matching two phone (number) fields to ensure the values still match up with the appropriate labels.

Certainly, it would be easier if the phone numbers were setup the way you wanted them in the first place, but with the report screen, you at least have a way to edit mass quantity of records without doing it one by one, field by field, by hand.

What about my iPhone or Android?

Good question and this applies to any device that can sync with, our cloud service for Chaos data. The sync process to transfer contacts to your mobile device is shopping for specific phone labels to fit a few predefined fields that Exchange ActiveSync supports.

The protocols for transferring data to your mobile device offer the ability to have 2 Business numbers, 2 Home numbers, 2 Fax numbers, 2 Cellular (Mobile) numbers, 1 Pager number, 1 Web site URL, and 3 Email addresses. There can also be 1 Assistant Phone number and 1 Radio Phone number. Some devices also offer 1 Company Main phone number and 3 Instant Message addresses.

Phone Label in Chaos Matching Phone in Mobile
Business BusinessPhoneNumber
Business (2nd Instance) Business2PhoneNumber
Home HomePhoneNumber
Home (2nd Instance) Home2PhoneNumber
Cellular MobilePhoneNumber
Cellular (2nd Instance) CarPhoneNumber
Fax: BusinessFaxNumber
Fax: (2nd Instance) HomeFaxNumber
Pager PagerNumber
mailto: Email1Address
mailto: (2nd Instance) Email2Address
mailto: (3rd Instance) Email3Address
URL: WebPage
Assistant AssistantPhone
Radio RadioPhoneNumber
Main CompanyMainPhone
Yahoo! Messenger: IM2

For records already stored in your Chaos Databases, if you have a number labeled with the phrases listed above in the first column, it will be transferred to the mobile device. As mentioned above, if you have two phone numbers, both labeled "Business", the first one on the list will go to the first Business number on the mobile device, and the second instance of "Business" on the Chaos side will go to the Business2PhoneNumber on the mobile.

The labels listed in the second column are the ones the Over-The-Air sync uses. However, each phone will take these labels and assign them to appropriate fields on your mobile device. This list should give you a good idea of where phone numbers will go, even if the labels on your mobile device are not exactly the same as the second column above.


This help article applies to Intellect 4 or newer, Time & Chaos 8 or newer, and Chaos Free