Going Further with mDesktop - Matching



Explanation of Match Keys

Whether mDesktop is comparing two databases at a time or finding duplicates within one database, it would take far too long if mDesktop compared every record in the database with every other record. To overcome this problem, mDesktop generates phonetic and other keys that are used to find groups of records that are worth comparing - these can be described as ”candidate matches”. This screen allows you to select the keys used to find these candidates. You can use any of the fields in the database as matching keys, but you should ensure that they are appropriate. As a general rule, you should select three keys, which instructs mDesktop to look through the database using three different search criteria. There should not be a common element to all the keys e.g. you must make sure that Phonetic Surname Key is not contained within every key.  This will help ensure that you pick up all duplication, no matter how the data is structured.  

Consider the first key listed in the top half of the dialog, Phonetic Lastname Key & Initial + First 5 characters of Zip Code. This means that mDesktop will look at all groups of records where all of the ZIP fields, & the phonetic key of surname are the same, so that it can check which (if any) of these records it should report as potential duplicates. mDesktop examines every pair of records within each group looking at all the relevant fields in those two records, and works out a ’score’ that represents how closely they match overall.  For example:

  • Bill Dayton of 3526 River View Pkwy, 19428-2721 and
  • Bob Dayton of 1940 Hartford Blvd, 19428

…would be compared because they are both B Dayton and are both in the 19428 Zip area.  However, they would not warrant a score that is high enough for mDesktop to show them as a duplicate.  However:

  • Mr W J Deighton of 3526 Riverview Parkway, 19428

would be shown as a potential duplicate of Bill Dayton above, because mDesktop knows that Bill can be a short form of William and that Dayton sounds like Deighton.

Select the option Use default keys from the bottom left of the dialog.  You will see that the keys shown below are chosen.  The plain English description of these keys is:

  • phonetic lastname key + Zip
  • phonetic lastname key together with first initial + phonetic street key
  • street number + phonetic address key (city and street).

You can use these defaults with confidence when finding duplicates in nearly all normal US data files. In cases where you are dealing with complicated or badly structured data, mDesktop has the flexibility to find all of the duplicates, no matter how difficult the data may be to process - but for this you need mDesktop training or careful reading of the Online Help or User Manual, with time to experiment.

Scroll down the list of keys, and you will see that any of the fields that occur in one or both databases for overlap, can be used to find duplicates. Fields that begin with a lower case letter have not been standardized by mDesktop, and are not as reliable for finding matches as those that have been standardized.  

If you are selecting match keys rather than using the defaults, you must select New Key before each new match key that you select.  

Household / Address Matching

This level of matching is used primarily for residential data. Household matching will link records with the same address, regardless of last name.  

For example:

John Smith

Lucy Jones

1818 Harvard St.
San Jose,
Ca 95128

1818 Harvard St.
San Jose,
Ca 95128  

Contact / Individual Matching

Matching at contact level is primarily the same as using individual level matching. Contact matching will deduplicate down to one record per person at a location. Contact level matching will link these two contacts.

For example:

Jonathan Smith
1818 Harvard St.
San Jose,
Ca 95128

Mr.  J.  Smith
1818 Harvard St.
San Jose,

Even in the following example, the records would be considered as contact level matches.

For example:

John Smith
XYZ Inc.
1818 Harvard St.
San Jose, Ca 95128

Lucy Jones
1818 Harvard St.
San Jose, Ca 95128

This is because, by default, the company name is ignored when looking for contact level matches - perhaps XYZ Systems is part of ABC Group and J Smith acts for both levels of the company, or perhaps the company has changed its name. It is much more common for the records to represent the same person than different people in this kind of scenario.

Company Matching

This level is used to produce one record per company or business, thus ignoring any contact names. Therefore, two different employees working for the same company will be matched, as long as the addresses and zip codes match well enough. Company level matching will link the following records.

For example:

John Smith
XYZ Inc.
1818 Harvard St.
San Jose,
Ca 95128

Lucy Jones
1818 Harvard St.
San Jose,
Ca 95128

Household / Address Match Keys

If you are matching at household i.e. address level, the normal default match keys are not so effective, because two of them include the phonetic key of last name. If you have personal or company names in your data file, it is quite reasonable to use a key that includes last name, as long as the majority of the keys that you use do not rely on the surname key being the same. Therefore, in this case we recommend using the following keys:

  • LEFT(ZIP,5)+SUBSTR(ADD_KEY,5,4)+PREMISE i.e.  5 digit Zip plus phonetic key of street + building/house/apartment number
  • ADD_KEY+PREMISE i.e.  phonetic key of city and street + building/house/apartment number
  • NAME1+LEFT(ZIP,5) i.e.  phonetic key of last name plus 5 digit Zip

If you do not have personal or company names in your data file, replace the first key with PUN_TRIM(ADDRESS1+ADDRESS2)+LEFT(ZIP,5) i.e. the first two lines of address, upper cased and with punctuation removed, 5 digit Zip.  

Exact Matching

You can perform exact matching on any database. Exact matching just does an exact match on one field or a combination of fields - no fuzzy matching or matching weights are used. Exact matching can be carried out, not only using mDesktop’s standardized fields (e.g. NAME, ZIP, etc), but can also be carried out using fields that mDesktop does not recognise (e.g. ACCOUNT, DOB, etc). After selecting the match key(s) you would like to use for exact matching, you need to select the Advanced radio button within the Matching Key and Range window. The option of Fuzzy matching or Exact matching will now appear. As well as selecting a single field as each match key, you can also combine fields to create exact match keys.

Verifying Matches

The Verify Matches option within mDesktop has the ability to display matching records in either a pairs view (default) or a sets view. To change the default view for the Verify Matches option you will need to relabel a file named "NotVerifySetsFromWizard.txt" in the mDesktop directory (C:\Program Files\matchITv53). Essentially the file should be named "NotVerifySetsFromWizard.txt" if you wish to examine records in the pairs view. However, if you wish to look at records in a sets view the file needs to be renamed to "VerifySetsFromWizard.txt". The following examples highlight a Pair view. For more information on the Pairs or Sets view, please see ”Verify Matches Window” in the User Manual.

Once your data file has been imported to mDesktop and internally deduped, you have the ability to manually verify each match. You can access this option under the Matching Results window, or use the Verify Matches option under the Matching menu. Alternatively (or after using Verify Matches), you can enter a threshold score at and above which you want to flag records as duplicates, by selecting Flag Matches from the Matching Results window.

This screen, shown below, displays potential duplicates, in pairs.  Below each pair the matching score is shown. The matches are shown with the least likely dupes (lowest match scores) first, as you may only want to review the lower scoring pairs. If any pair shown is not a true match, select the False Match button to disregard the match. If you find that most of the matches at the lower scores are false matches, you can use either the   or  buttons to flag any records which are true matches at these lower scores.

The different colored highlighting is used to help distinguish which fields differ between the two records. Red highlighting is used to show where a field is different between the two records shown, whereas yellow shows that the field contents are a subset of the corresponding field in the matching record.  

The buttons in the top right part of the screen control movement through the table; other buttons allow further options. The functions of the relevant buttons are as follows:



Go back to the first pair displayed (lowest matching score selected).


Go back to the previous pair displayed (or press Page Down).


Go forward to the next pair, which may be for a higher score than the current pair displayed (or press Page Up).


Jump to the pair with the next highest score. (A little message "No more scores!" appears in the top right when the end of the pairs is reached.)


If the pair shown is not a true match, you can select this button to remove the match - this means that this pair will no longer be flagged as a match. If you make a mistake, select Restore Match before you move on to the next pair of records (or press Ctrl+Delete.


Select either of these buttons to interactively flag records for deletion (usually just in the lower scoring bands of matches). When you click on one of these buttons, it changes to a green tick. If you click on one of these buttons by mistake, just click on the green tick button to unflag the record.


This button allows you to select different fields to view in the matching pairs, or change the field order (more detail is given in Verify Matches in the User Manual).


This button asks mDesktop to remember the current pair so you can return to this pair later.


This button will return to the marked pair.


When you have finished reviewing matches, select Done.

This window also provides you with powerful data merging tools. Right clicking in either of the records can access these tools. You will then see a drop down menu that offers options such as copy to the left hand or right hand side, cut, paste, and Intelligent Data Merge. Before using the Intelligent Data Merge option, you must set the Intelligent Data Merge priorities from the Matching Setup sub-menu, located in mDesktop’s Setup menu.  

Verify Matches in Sets

This screen will display potential duplicates, in sets.

The different colored highlighting is used to help distinguish where the differing fields are in the records.  Fields in red are different, yellow shows information which is contained in the same field in the other record and white displays those fields which are identical.

The tick boxes between matching records (in the top right part of the screen) control what information is transferred to the Master record.


specifies what fields to transfer to the Master record.


transfers selected fields to the Master record.


goes forward to the next page of matching sets.


expands all matching sets shown in the current page of matching sets.

Below the matching pair display there are various buttons for dealing with that particular matched pair:


to flag the duplicate record in the pairs view section, select this button. The button then changes: to "Restore Record" which allows you to unflag the record.

False Match is Ctrl+Delete


if the pair shown is not a true match, you can select this button to remove the match - meaning that this pair will no longer be regarded as a match. The button then changes: to "Restore Match" which allows you to reactivate the displayed matching pair.


uses the Intelligent Data Merge (see Intelligent Data Merge) settings specified by the user to create a meta-record of the two records shown in the pairs section.


Typically, you either flag false matches in a score band if most of them are true matches, or flag the odd true match if most of them are false.  You do not need to both flag false matches and flag true matches within a score band, as a global deletion will flag all matches above a match score as long as they have not been declared false.  If you are using the Matrix Report or Group Matches feature, any matches you flag interactively will not be included.  To allow this, you can increase the match score of any pair in the grey area, so that you move them into the area that is being automatically flagged or grouped.



quickly find records that contain a piece of information as specified by you. The records that contain the information will then be displayed in the Verify Matches in Sets window.


customizes the "Verify Matches in Sets" window by allowing the user to apply filters and sort orders so that only records of specified concern are displayed.


allows you to enter the name or names of any additional fields that you want to see in the "Matches in Group" section.  Just scroll down and type the name of the field at the end of the list.  You have to know the exact spelling of the field name or it will not be displayed, but you don't have to specify the field type or width.  You can also change the order in which the fields are displayed, by dragging the square button to the left of the name.  Then select OK and say "Yes" to the question "Make structure changes permanent".  NB: this question refers to the structure of a temporary work file, not the structure of the Main File.


jumps to the first matching set of a specified match score.

Click "Done" when you have finished.


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