iPhone has a dedicated Contacts app to centrally manage a list of all your contact’s details. You can access these contact details right from Phone, Mail, Messages and from many third-party apps like WhatsApp. The problem comes when you have a long contact list and want to import the contacts. Unfortunately, there are no ways in iPhone Contacts app for importing and exporting contacts. However, the good part is that you can use iCloud account to sync the contacts and import and export from Mac or iCloud website.
Importing and Exporting iPhone Contacts
There are many reasons you may want to import and export contacts from your iPhone.
- Probably you are changing the phone moving from Android to iPhone and wanted to import SIM contacts.
- Changing to another iPhone model and wanted to transfer all your existing contacts to the new iPhone.
- Wanted to keep a printed offline copy of contact list for reference or sharing with others.
- Wanted to have an online copy for backup.
Whatsoever is the reason behind, there are little things you can do within iPhone Contacts app. The solution is to sync your contacts in iCloud so that you can easily import/export from other devices. This will also help when changing to other iPhone as you do not need to transfer your contacts.
Importing Contacts from SIM Card
If you are changing from Android to iPhone, then make sure all your contacts are stored in the SIM card.
- When you are ready with iPhone with the new SIM card inserted, go to “Settings” app.
- Find “Contacts” option and tap on it.
- On the settings page, tap on “Import SIM Contacts” option.
- Choose “iCloud” or “On My Phone” to store all your imported SIM contacts.
Sync with iCloud Before Changing to Another iPhone
If you are planning to change your iPhone to another model, then the best option is to enable iCloud sync. Using the synced contacts list, you can automatically import all contacts from iCloud to your new iPhone. Remember, you should use the same Apple ID on old and new phones so that the syncing will work from your iCloud account.
- Go to “Settings” app and then tap on your Apple ID showing on the top.
- Select “iCloud” option and then enable “Contacts” option.
Depending upon the size of your list, it may take some time for the contacts to sync in your iCloud account. To be on the safer side, make sure to enable iCloud sync few days before you plan to change the phone and do not create new contacts in last minute to avoid them missing without syncing. All your contacts will be automatically imported when you setup iCloud on your new phone.
Note: You can also enable iCloud sync from “Settings > Contacts > Accounts > Select iCloud Account > iCloud > Contacts”.
Import and Export Contacts from Mac
If you really want to have a backup of all your contacts in iPhone, then first enable iCloud sync as explained above. Follow the below instructions on your Mac to take a backup of your iPhone contacts.
- Press “Command + Space” to open Spotlight Search.
- Type contacts to find and open Contacts app in your Mac.
- You should see the complete of your iPhone contacts under “All Contacts” section. There are different formats available for exporting your contacts.
Export iPhone Contacts as PDF
Select all your contacts, go to “File” menu and select “Export as PDF” option. Choose the location on your Mac and save your file. This will export all your contacts in a nice PDF file. However, you can use this PDF file only for offline reference and not for importing back the contacts.
Export as vCard
This is the common format for exporting your contacts. When you are in “All Contacts” folder, select all your contacts by pressing “Command + A” keys. Check the total number of contacts in the right pane which includes your own contact card.
Now, go to “File” menu and select “Export > Export vCard” option. Make sure the file name shows “ You name + number of remaining contacts”. In our case, it shows “Name + 75 other”. Choose the location and click “Save” button to export all your contacts in a single vCard file.
Note that you can also export single or multiple contacts as vCard file.
Export as Archive
This is not recommended format as you will have some problems while importing the contacts. However, you can still use this option for exporting all your contacts as an archive file. Note that you can only get an archive of all the contacts and not individual contacts like in vCard option. Go to “File” menu and select “Export > Contacts Archive” option.
The filename will be automatically showing as “Contacts – Current Date” format. Change the name if required and select the location to save your contacts.
The archive file will be huge in size compared to vCard format. In our case, vCard file was just 570KB in size for 76 contacts while the same contacts archive (.abbu) file was 11.9MB in size.
Import Contacts from vCard or Archive File
If you want to import your contacts from the exported file, simply go to “File > Import” menu in Contacts app from Mac. Select the exported vCard file to upload in the app. Alternatively, you can simply open the downloaded vCard export file which will automatically start the importing process.
When you import vCard file, Mac will automatically detect the duplicate contacts and show “Review Duplicates… button.
Click on that button and review each duplicate contact. You can choose one of the following options for the duplicates:
- Keep the old entry
- Replace it with new entry
- Keep both old and new entries
- Merge them together
You can select the option for the first entry and then check “Apply to All” option to apply the same logic to all duplicate contacts. When you are done with reviewing duplicates, click on “Import” button to finish importing your contacts from vCard file.
As mentioned, contacts archive file will have problem while importing that it will not provide an option to review duplicates. You can only click on “Replace All” button to replace all your existing entries with the data from archive file.
Import and Export Contacts from iCloud Website
If you do not have Mac, then the alternate option for importing and exporting iPhone contacts is to use icloud.com website. The good part is that you can login to iCloud website through any web browser from Windows PC, Android or from the iPhone itself.
- Open icloud.com website and login with the same Apple ID which you are using on your iPhone.
- Click “Contacts” app from the dashboard to open your contacts list.
- Select all your contacts in the list (by pressing Control + A in Windows PC).
- Click on the gear icon showing on the bottom left corner and select “Export vCard…” option.
- This will download .vcf contacts card file containing all your iPhone contacts.
- Similarly for importing the contacts, select “Import vCard…” option and upload the .vcf file. All your imported contacts will be instantly visible on all the devices signed in using the same Apple account.
You can also export/import single or multiple cards instead of the entire list. As you can see, iCloud website offers only vCard option and not the contacts archive option.