Contact List

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What Does Contact List Mean?

A contact list is a feature found in instant messaging,
email clients, mobile phones, online games or communities and is usually nothing but a
collection of screen names. Various
trademarks and proprietary names exist for contact lists in different contexts.
A contact list shows screen names that represent actual people for communicating
or sharing information.


In some contexts, a contact list is also known as a buddy list.

Techopedia Explains Contact List

A contact list shows screen names which could be actual names or aliases for real people. The window with the contact list allows for communication or a similar action upon selecting the name. Some applications allow users to change the display name or reformat the screen name. Most applications also allow the contact list to be minimized or customized based on a user’s needs. The style of representation of a contact list is different with different applications, but their capabilities are mostly similar.

A contact list can be used for forming social networks, distribution lists and contact networks. Information about users is readily available in existing contact lists, and can be tailored to suit different needs. For organizations or sales, a contact list adds to the capacity and a strong resource for communication. Having a list of people with similar interests could help in responding to different needs of the group. From a psychological perspective, users often find a great sense of achievement and satisfaction in building a contact list. It can help in building long-term relationships as well. From a sales perspective, having a contact list lessens the need to directly “sell the group.” Rather, they can concentrate on sending the message, as they already know the people and what they do.

There are challenges in maintaining and creating a contact list. It takes a good amount of time and effort to build a meaningful contact list and there are some times in which it is not worth maintaining the contact list based on the frequency of use or size.


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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.