How to sync contacts with iCloud on iOS 5 or iOS 6? [iOS6]

This How-To article will help you sync your contacts with Apple iOS 5’s new iCloud service. It is really simple!

Apple unveiled iOS 5 with iCloud at WWDC 2011 and iCloud comes with Contacts Sync. Once you are on your iOS 5 device, you will need to sync your contacts with iCloud to enjoy seamless sync across your Apple Eco-system.

Syncing your existing contacts onto iCloud may look a little complicated, but this screenshot tour will definitely help you out in syncing your contacts with ease.

You need to get your device configured for iCloud before you go ahead with this tutorial. You can configure your device when you boot the device for the first time after you upgrade to iOS 5.

    1. Tap Setting on the home screen and Tap iCloud option in it.
    2. Now, toggle the Contacts switch to Off. [alert_box type=”Error”]Your phone will warn you that it would delete your existing contacts. Select Yes ONLY if you have a backup on your computer. We will be syncing the contacts from your PC or a Mac at the later part. [/alert_box]
    3. Now, Sync your Contacts with your Mac or a PC. Just connect your iDevice to your computer, fire-up iTunes, and enable Contacts Sync. (Hope you know this already!)
    4. Now, your contacts will be synced to your computer’s AddressBook. You are half way through the process now. On your phone, go to Settings > iCloud and toggle the Contacts switch to On! This will enable Contact sync on your device. 
    5. Now, the phone will ask you if it can Merge the contacts that are already on the phone. Just click Merge. And you are done. Youe contacts are on the Cloud now.
[alert_box]Note: Once you are done syncing your contacts to iCloud, iTunes will disable the Sync Address Book Contacts” option by default.
I will keep you posted about the other tutorials very soon. Don’t hesitate to ask any query you’ve got with Apple or iOS.[/alert_box]
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  • Paulo

    Didn't work for me. 🙁

    Didn't get the "Merge" option. Is there any option in iTunes that must be on to do this process?

  • Paulo

    Didn't work for me. 🙁

    Didn't get the “Merge” option. Is there any option in iTunes that must be on to do this process?

    • There is no options to change! 🙂

  • Paulo

    Oh,now I got it. Since I’ve never used my iTunes to backup contacts (I use only Google Sync) there were no contacts to be merged with iCloud. Thanks! 😀

    • Thats cool. :-). Happy that it worked now. Enjoy.

  • Paulo

    Oh,now I got it. Since I’ve never used my iTunes to backup contacts (I use only Google Sync) there were no contacts to be merged with iCloud. Thanks! 😀

    • Thats cool. :-). Happy that it worked now. Enjoy.

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  • Chummy

    I have recently used the iOS 5 beta 6 and my Mac has some how lost all my contacts and it will not sync with my iPhone does this have something to do with iCloud?

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  • Bob

    Rookie iCloud user sync question….

    I have both an iPhone and an iPad2. Previously I used Google Contacts to keep them in sync.

    I have updated the iPhone to OS5 and set up my iCloud account and synced my contacts from the iPhone to iCloud.

    I then accessed my iCloud contacts on my PC and cleaned up some issues in the address book and then synced back to my iPhone and both locations now match with good information.

    Now I want to update my iPad to OS5. When I setup the iPad can I turn off the contacts on the iPad and delete them from the iPad and then do a fresh sync them from my iCloud so that I don’t contaminate the iCloud data with obsolete iPad data i.e create duplicates or wipe out my clean up corrections etc?

    I don’t use Outlook so my contacts are not backed up there. I don’t want to totally wipe out my iCloud data.

    • Whatever you change on the iPad will reflect other devices associated with your iCloud. So just be careful! Try with a sample contact, mess it up on your iPad and you will see the changes happening on the other device immediately!

  • Jens Johansson

    How do I merge ALL my contacts ( even the one from my exchange server ) to iCloud?

  • Rick

    Is there any way to merge MobileMe and iCloud? I used MobileMe previously, and now I can’t figure out how to take all my calendar items and contacts and put them in my new iCloud account.

    • Yes you can. Just use the iCloud and MobileMe migration assistant given by Apple. It’s a online tool though!

  • Rob

    Love the iCloud feature.
    Query: My iCloud address book doesn’t sync perfectly with my iMac address book. Example:

    I have sorted and displayed contacts according first name, last name.

    In iCloud contact George Adams appears under the As.
    In iMac address book George Adams appears under the Gs.

    I’d like them to both be synched to first name, last name. In other wordsGeorge Adams should appear under the Gs in iCloud.

    Can you help out on this?

    • I don’t think that feature is available yet. WIll check that out though!

  • Tug

    I am seeking clarification regarding icloude and Iphone-4 sync. Can I establish a direct sync from Iphone to Icloude? I do not want to use Outlook or any other device. This is how Mobilme used to function.
    Thank you for your time and information!

  • Marek

    Am I able to choose the groups from address book?
    I don’t want to sync all of them … just two of them!
    How to do it?!?!?!?!

    • You can’t actually do so. It would sync all of the contacts, including the groups!

  • Ronnie

    I am using a PC with outlook 2007, i am also using an Ipad with OS5 and iCloud. I am having a problem with both the calendar and contacts with iCloud. I have followed your instructions above and and the contacts synced fine through iTunes, but when when i make changes to the contacts on the PC and refresh iCloud the changes do not appear on the IPad. BTW – outlook has created another contacts folder called “ICloud contacts” the first sync i did this folder was updated but now if i make changes to my contacts both this folder and the Ipad do not update.

    I have not started on the calendar yet but i notice some duplications that i cannot get rid of.

  • Jeff Z

    Very confused how to do this correctly?!

    I just got an iPhone 4S.
    I imported my contacts list from my yahoo mail.

    Then I cleaned up the list and added some additional stuff from my old cell phone.

    I didn’t realize the new stuff was added to my iCloud list and the old imported stuff remains in a Yahoo list.

    Is there a way to merge an upload both of these lists into one unified iCloud account?

    And how do I back that up to my PC?


    • Just use iCloud for PC. And sync it with your PC. Edit the contacts on your PC and then it should be fine!

  • Diane Atherton

    I have tried this 3 times and all it imports is my contact information, meaning just one contact, mine.

    Everything worked just as shown in your detailed description but when I go to iCloud the only contact showing is me.

    • Oh! Did you sync with the correct account?

  • Thank you so much, I SO needed this.

  • CK

    hi, syncing is working btw icloud / ipad / iphone. but my contacts on my mac arent syncing. is it supposed to?? if so, i do i get it to do that?

    • No. Your contacts on Mac won’t sync until you have iCloud for Mac installed on your Mac and sync it with the same iCloud account on your device.

      • valetanco

        @karthikk I have iCloud on my mac and iPhone and iCloud account. i did the first 2 steps and deleted all my iPhone contacts. i tried to re-synch them into my phone through my mac and although i have them all on my mac address book they will not show up on my phone and i am freaking out

        • valetanco

          @karthikk i am not sure what you mean. separate my contacts?

  • successfully upgraded ITUNES and downloaded IOS5 to my IPhone AND IPad. opened an ICloud account. problems synching all those with OUTLOOK calendar and CONTACTS and also problem with IPhone and Ipad mutual synching, which shud be easy via ICloud.

    thx your assitance,


    • Have you figured it out yet? Or need some help?

  • margarita

    I have a family plan from Verizon with two iphones. I activated icloud on my phone and it synced all the contacts from BOTH phones!!!! I only want my contacts on my phone, and his on his!!!! PRIVACY ISSSUESSSSSSSS….. HELP!

    • Ok then, Reset one of the phone’s contacts. And also, reset iCloud’s contacts (Clear off by syncing your iCloud with a device that doesn’t have any contacts in it, and do not merge it). Make sure you have a backup of your contacts somewhere!

      • kellyspringfield718

        Ok I have a similiar issue. I have a verizone family plan and my daughter has an iphone and when I turned on icloud I got all her contacts on my ipad and ipods. I use a android, so I use google to manage my contacts and calanders. But I would like to get an iphone if there is a way to make sure I only get my contacts and not hers and if it will sync my contacts and calanders with my gmail. The guy at the apple store told me to turn the contacts tab to off on the device so that it did not share the info but that it would still back up any added contacts to gmail. I don’t think he knew what he was talking about. Please help….

  • Thank you so much !! 🙂

  • Joe

    really cool – thanks for the help.

    Worked perfectly.

  • I have tried everything. Syncing to my laptop, syncing to my ipad but the Contact app will not open nor can I switch the app to “on” in the settings. I get a message about merging contacts with icloud and when I click on merge everything disappears and I still cannot switch it to on. Although the app is still on my screen I just can’t get into it.

    • Hope you are on the current build of iOS 5. And try a hard-reset. There are some bugs in iOS 5 though!

  • Didn’t work for me. I can´t get to I Tunes Sync as I did before IOS5. I only have the option for iTunes WiFi Sync, and it won´t sync through the USB cable, so I won´t get the Merge part…

    • @Steve Try a regular USB sync instead. It should work. And whatever, just take a backup of your contacts somehow and go ahead! 🙂

  • denemesto

    turn icloud sync off on the iphone..sync contacts with windows contacts usin the import tab on the contacts window..import the .csv file from you email you just exported…then change to windows contacts from th edrop down list on itunes and sync…should sync contacts ,,,,worked for me…then turn on contacts sync on icould on trhe iphone..hope this helps!!

    • @denemesto Very good tip Denemesto! Thank you!

  • Katerpillar

    I seem to be having similar issues but with iCal. I have followed similar steps as in this post and upon merge everything betwen my iPhone, iMac, and iCloud sync beautifully. Whenever I add a new event to iCal on my iMac it syncs everywhere. HOWEVER, if I add an event on iCal on my iPhone, it does not sync to iCloud or my iMac. How is it that I am only syncing in one direction using iCloud? Any thoughts on how to remedy this?

    • @Katerpillar This is a known issue for some users. Try removing iCloud from your Mac and re-install it again! It should work! Atleast disable it and re-enable iCloud on Mac.

  • JoshHouseholder

    Goolge contacts to icloud the easy way.

    Much Easier, no Itunes. 1. open gmail 2. contacts 3. select your group 4. go to more and export as vfile. 5. email to yourself 6. recive email open vfile 7. create new contacts. Now they are in your cloud no need to mess with i tunes.

  • JoshHouseholder

    Goolge contacts to icloud the easy way.

    Much Easier, no Itunes. 1. open gmail 2. contacts 3. select your group 4. go to more and export as vfile. 5. email to yourself 6. recive email (ON IPHONE) open vfile 7. create new contacts. Now they are in your cloud no need to mess with i tunes.

    • @JoshHouseholder That’s a very cool trick. Thanks for the update!

  • Katerpillar

    Wish that would work for me. I do not use gmail. I have a MobileMe email and a roadrunner email and use the mail program on my iMac and iPhone.

  • coughlinb

    Ok is live time sync from my ipad , iphone to google or outlook calendars possible

    Actually i have my own alendar events on mysql database and need to post it to outlook or google calandar or icloud. Any thoughts as too what platforms are spporting live sync

    • @coughlinb I don’t think so. May be I had to check that out soon for you! Let us know if you figure out a solution!

  • papoudu34

    Unfortunately I sync PC/iPhone using exchange and not iTunes: in that case above is not working!

    Is there an other solution?

    • @papoudu34 There sure must be a solution! Did you try exporting the Exchange contacts from desktop? If you are able to export, you could import it into your iPhone using your PC or Mac’s address book and sync it with iTunes.

  • kellyspringfield718

    I have a verizon family plan and my daughter has an iphone. I put the icloud on our devices and I got her contacts on my ipod and ipad. The apple guy told me to turn the contacts tab to off and it would not share it with icloud and we would not get her info but it would still back it up to her gmail. I use an android so I use gmail to manage my info. I would like to get an iphone if there is away to only get my info and not hers and if it backs up to my gmail as well. Is this possible? Again the apple guy told me that I need to turn the auto sync off of my itunes and it would then allow me to pick which gmail account I wanted to use and I could go to iclouds website and further customize what whent to what device. I don’t think he really knew what he was talking about…. Please help……

  • dr_carpenter

    I followed these steps, and now many of my contacts have duplicate phone numbers – the same mobile, home, work numbers are entered twice both in my Address Book and on my iPhone. How can I undo this?

    • @dr_carpenter To wipe out data, try clearing your contacts from It should work. And then try syncing again. If you are still having trouble, let me know!

      • dr_carpenter

        Will do. Thanks.

  • Tex S

    My iPhone and iPad now automatically sync contacts over the air; but not with iCloud. And even though I set up Outlook Contacts on my PC to sync with iCloud, it isn’t working. Seems like a problem with iCloud. Suggestions?

    • @Tex S Its not a problem with the iCloud. Check your iCloud setting again! Let me know if you are facing some more issues!

  • daly_beauty

    Hi- my husband added some music from my itunes on my Macbook & even though his contacts are set to sync with iCloud, they synced with the contacts on my Macbook. So now he has both his and my contacts on his phone. His last iCloud sync was several days before he plugged into my computer- so my question is: how to replace the contacts on his phone with the contacts that are on his iCloud? Or, is this possible?

    • @daly_beauty Just delete the contacts on his phone. And enable iCloud sync for Contacts. It should work. But remember to have a backup of your contacts at a safer location always!

      • daly_beauty

        Thank you! The issue was that for some reason I did not make him his own account on my Macbook. Which I have now done. Issue solved 🙂


        • @daly_beauty Oh! That’s good! Hope you got it working!! 🙂

  • GregJohnson

    In moving to iCloud all the Groups in my Address Book were lost on my Mac, nor do they show up in iCloud Address Book. Fortunately they still exist on my iPhone, but I can’t find a way to get them back to my Mac where I need them the most. Recreating the Groups would be a gigantic task! Individual contacts seem to sync in all 3 places OK, just not the Groups.

    • @GregJohnson You can merge the contacts with iCloud. iCloud syncs groups too! And remember to take backup of your contacts. Just sync with the Mac’s Address book.

      • GregJohnson

        @karthikk I have tried to sync in every possible way, and individual cards sync fine, but the Groups never appear in iCloud nor on my Mac Address Book. At a loss as to what else to try…

        • themacmommy

          Do you have a Time Machine backup of your Address Book? Restore it from there? Did you by any chance create an Address Book archive backup? That version of export retains the groups. I too lost groups when I merged but I know I can get them back either from Time Machine or the AB archive I made before I merged to iCloud. just my 2 cents.

  • Tex S

    Still no joy. My iPhone and iPad sync contacts over the air with no problems. But iCloud does not sync with either. Plus, Outlook Contacts (set to sync with iCloud) does not sync with the iPhone and iPad. I’ve checked and re-checked all settings.

    • @Tex S I have raised this issue to Apple. Expecting an solution from them soon!

  • Tex S

    OK, I figured this out I think. On the iPhone and the iPad, when you are in contacts, you have to be sure that your are in the “All iCloud” group when adding or changing a contact. In that case, everything will be updated properly on the iPhone, iPad, iCloud and Outlook Exchange (under “Contacts in iCloud”). If you’re in “All Contacts”, an update will NOT show up across all devices. So you can keep everything synced, but it’s hardly intuitive.

    • @Tex S That’s a very great information! Thank you Tex S! I will update the post with your comment!

  • lyd

    Thank you! iCloud syncing worked without this on my phone, but not on my hubby’s and your tutorial saved a lot of grief 🙂

    • @lyd That’s great to hear! Enjoy iCloud! 🙂

  • oownderwmanoo

    Can you sync both ways? I have everything synced with google, and I have added the exchange account on my iphone 4s so when I add a contact on my phone it all syncs with my google account, but I also want to sync everything with icloud as well as a back up plan. Can this be done?

    • @oownderwmanoo This could be done and logically this Can be done! I haven’t tested it. But if you are able to do so, kindly post back! 🙂

  • acnu34

    I bought my wife the Iphone 4 and when I plugged in for the first time our contacts were merged together via the Icloud. Can I chose “delete previosly synced contacts from my phone” and all her contacts will be removed? I dont want to lose her contacts either by doing this. What is my best option? Thanks

    • @acnu34 Yes! It would erase previous contacts. But do you want to sync to iCloud having the same contacts again?

      • acnu34


        I just want my contacts on my phone and hers on her phone!! What a pain this process is!! Thanks

        • @acnu34 Yes! It’s a pain! Since your have synced them (Merged them). I think the best option for you is to use the Mac Address Book and separate the contacts!

      • acnu34


  • acnu34


    I just want my contacts on my phone and hers on her phone!

  • mattandcarmenallen

    So I had pictures set for every contact in my (our) phones. My wife and I share contacts. Now my wifes phone still has all the pictures assigned to all her contacts but they’ve erased on mine. All our contacts are the same except the pictures. What gives? Our Icloud accounts are the same. We have the same 4S Iphones. I can’t figure this one out.

    • @mattandcarmenallen May be this is a bug! The pictures should have synced properly! Let me verify with Apple and get back to you on this shortly! 🙂 But try Deleting and merging again! Have a backup of your contacts before you experiment!

      • mattandcarmenallen


        How do you delete your contacts without doing a reset? I have everything backed up through outlook on my computer and the pictures even show up on there.

        • @mattandcarmenallen Just use the Mac AddressBook to delete all your contacts! That should be the easy way! BTW, are the pictures available in Mac AddressBook?

        • mattandcarmenallen


          I dont have a mac.

        • @mattandcarmenallen Or use the Windows AddressBook. Hope you use the iCloud for Windows. Or the other option would be to use

        • mattandcarmenallen


          I’m not real tech savey. I only use Outlook for my contacts other than my phone. I don’t see where I can delete my contacts on there without whiping out my backup (unless you think icloud is good enough). I don’t see on icloud (the one I have downloaded anyway) where you can delete my phones phonebook. I only see where I can check or uncheck the phonebook icon that wil sync or unsync our contacts with our accounts.

  • scoss

    for some reason i cant seem to sync my new contacts when added from my phone with icloud. when adding a new number from my phone this will never sync with the cloud. however if adding a new number from the number is synced to my iphone straight away. what am i doing wrong with my phone for it not to sync with icloud.

    ps ive followed all your above advice. ive synced contacts with outlook. is this what you meant by in “enabling contact sync” if not which tab is this under.

    cheers for your help.

    • @scoss It should work that way. This might be a bug! I’ve reported it to Apple. Let’s see what they say about this. Also, try syncing your iCloud contacts again on your phone!

  • renatobarone

    hi, thanks for the explanation!

    One doubt, if I add a new contact in my Address Book on my macbook, the icloud and my iphone will be updated? If no how can I do that? I need to keep all my devices update, including the icloud.


    • @renatobarone Yes! They will be updated instantly if you are connected to Internet. If you aren’t they would get updated once the internet comes up!

  • camaneeshsharma

    Hi.. thanks for this.. however how do you retrieve your contacts from the cloud if needed…

  • Shivsoni

    Hi i update my iPhone 3GS to 5.0.1 and i recently bought Mac computer with IOS x Lion. I registered with icloud and sync my contacts thats fine i also sync contacts on iTunes to have backup address book, but for some reason there is a duplicate entries why i don’t know and how to sort this matter if i delete duplicate contacts from address book on mac it delete from iphone. Pls help

  • belldesign

    I keep trying to get my contacts all in order and keep having issues. I have 2 iPhone 4s’s and a Macbook Pro. I’m trying to get the contact list on all 3 devices and the iCloud to all match with a single set of contacts. The phones were just upgraded from 3Gs. The most complete list of contacts on my iPhone is when I’m in All Contacts. But there are many contacts in there that are duplicated 3-4 times and some of the contacts that show up on the iPhone but don’t show up on the Cloud, the Mac or the other iPhone. I need the ability to add contacts on all devices and to maintain a single complete list between them all…. is that actually possible?

    I also have the same problem with the calendar… things not showing up on all devices and many duplicates on the iPhone…

  • have you ever tried ? <a href=””> can export contacts from gmail</a> as well as to extract all email addresses

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  • laauhe

    Help!!  I Have upgraded my i4s with the new ios 6.0, and my contact list is GONE!!

    •  @laauhe Don’t panic. Try to restart your phone and sync it again!

    •  @laauhe Also, give it sometime. It might take some time to sync. Have the Contacts app open.

  • xNew_Newx

    I have my iCloud account on my PC and says that I am actually another one of my contacts and shows up as me being the contact,I sthere any way to fix this,And if so Can you please help me?.

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