One of the most frustrating things that I’ve run into with my iPhone and iPad is that I have duplicate contacts everywhere. I’m not sure how they got there. Quite possibly aliens infiltrated my electronics and are trying to mess with me. Actually, with the way Apple does this I think my alien theory has some validity, but lucky for you all, I spent a little time figuring out a quick fix to this particular challenge.
What’s The Challenge?
While Apple does a great job of protecting your privacy, it means that they control everything regarding your iPhone and iPad. They do allow linked contacts, but even that can be a mystery and rarely fixes having several duplicate people in your contact list.
If you’ve ever tried to batch delete multiple contacts using your iPhone, you can’t. You literally have to delete them one by one after navigating through several different screens and menus to do it. It takes forever! I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to live long enough to pull that off.
It’s must faster using this method if you want to fix your contact list. The great news is, it takes about 3-5 minutes and it’s very easy. Hint, you’re going to need a computer.
Video Tutorial Too
If you’d rather skip reading and watch a video instead, here’s a quick 3 1/2 minute video tutorial. Otherwise, continue reading below
Let’s Start By Deleting One Contact
Okay, let’s get started. Open your Internet browser and navigate to www.iCloud.com. Enter your Apple ID and password, which is the same Apple ID and password that you use to sign into your iPhone, iPad, or other Apple devices. If you’re like me, you struggle with remembering your Apple ID… here’s a hint, it’s probably your email address.
Sign into iCloud using the same email and password as you use with your iPhone or iPad.
Caution: shameless plug for a great product ahead! Continue reading below↓
You should see a list all of your contacts. This page is called iCloud Contacts and this is where we will be managing the contacts that synchronize with your iPhone, iPad, and other Apple devices. You’ll notice on my page that I have several duplicate contacts, ironically three of them from Apple. Deleting one contact is easy. All you need to do is go up to the top left-hand corner of the contact area and click “Edit”.
This is a great way to edit information about a contact if it’s someone you like and want to keep. However, if you want to delete this contact look down at the bottom and click on “Delete Contact”.
Navigation Tip: “Edit” contact by clicking on edit at the top left-hand corner of the contact details window, and “Delete” contact by clicking on the bottom left-hand corner where it says “Delete Contact”.
You should see a pop-up window that asks you to verify that you want to delete the contact. Make sure, double-check yourself before you continue.
If you look at the image below you’ll see that I have multiple contacts in my contact list. These are duplicates of one another and I want to keep just one (except for Apple).
To get rid of your unwanted contacts, highlight each contact that you want to delete by clicking on the contact. To highlight multiple contacts, hold down the Command key on a Mac (Cmd), or the Control key on a PC (Ctrl) while clicking on the contacts. Go ahead and select all of the contacts that you want to delete.
BIG TIP! I’d suggest you start with small batches before you go for the whole enchilada. Try deleting a few small groupings to start and make sure you have the hang of things before you work up to 10’s of 100’s. You don’t want to accidentally delete your whole contact list.
Once you delete your contacts, to my knowledge there’s no getting them back. So, double check everything from here forward before confirming delete (there’s a trick to this mentioned below).
Now that you’ve selected the contacts you’d like to delete, let’s continue.
You’ve likely noticed that the edit and delete options are no longer at the top and bottom of your contact detail screen. This frustrated me for a bit as I tried to figure out what to do next. Not at all intuitive. After sorting through things, and trying several different options, I eventually figured it out.
Here’s the trick. In the far bottom left-hand corner, there’s a “settings” icon. It looks like a cog on a bike or a small gear. If you click it a menu pops up. How fun! This is also where you can easily export multiple contacts too. If you scroll up the list there it is… delete!
Funny enough, the DEL or delete key on the keyboard is also a shortcut. Who would have thought?
Step 3 – The Most Important Step
When you click delete, a verification window will pop-up and ask if you want to delete the selected contacts. Be sure to double-check the number of contacts showing in the pop-up window against the number of contacts you thought you selected for deletion.
Important Tip I Mentioned Above: If it says something like 100 contacts or more, take a close look at what you’ve selected. If you only selected a few contacts, something went wrong. Press cancel and start your selection process over!
Remember, when managing data like your contact list, small batches help to keep you safe and sound. If you’re okay with the quantity of contacts about to be deleted, go ahead and click “Delete”. After you verify the number and click delete, you’ll notice that the selected contacts are no longer on your list… or on your iPhone or iPad.
Quick reminder! The contacts you delete are not recoverable. Make sure to verify the number of contacts selected against what you thought you selected before you press delete.
Congratulations! You did it!
Little disclaimer… It’s not my fault if you delete your contacts, AND you may have more than one device synchronizing with your iCloud (via Apple ID). If you do, that device could potentially synchronize the contacts you just tried to delete. It shouldn’t, but just saying don’t kill the messenger. By the way, you may want to backup your contacts before using the multiple delete method. If needed, call the Genius Bar at Apple for help.