How To Organise Your iPhone Contacts Like An Absolute Pro
Step #1) Merge Duplicate Contacts
Many people save contact information for the same person piecemeal. What I mean by that is if we get an email from someone we might save their email address as one contact card while later quickly jotting down their phone number on another contact card. This results in multiple contact cards for the same person.
Thankfully iOS allows you to merge contact into one. It actually calls this feature “Link Contacts” but the rest of the world calls it merging. To merge a contact card with another:
- Find the first card of the contact you have multiple cards for.
- Tap the Edit button in the top right of the screen.
- Scroll down and tap “Link Contacts…”
- Select the contact’s other contact card. Tap the Link button on this card’s screen.
- Tap Done. This will merge both cards together.
- (Optional) To unlink the contact cards simply tap the red minus button next to one of the card’s names under the LINKED CONTACTS heading.
Step #2) Keep Your Contacts Info Up To Date
This bit of advice is, surprisingly, the one most people have a hard time with because, well, it’s time-consuming. It’s possible you may now have email addresses from one contact scattered across different cards above if you saved those emails separately. Or maybe you just have one contact card with pertinent information missing–a work email or home phone for example. If you’re an organized person you’ll want to get as complete a contact info compilation for members in your Contacts as possible.
This, unfortunately, involves you finding out the information and then manually adding that information into the myriad fields in the contact card template in iOS. As you can imagine this could take a lot of time–tapping away at the various fields. That’s why I highly recommend updating your contact card info on your Mac or PC in the default contacts app you use or in the web-based contact book you use for services such as Yahoo Mail or Gmail.
The simple fact is that if you need to manually enter lots of contact info, it’s always faster to do it using a computer with a physical keyboard than it is doing it on a tiny touchscreen.
Step #3) Add A Profile Photo For Your Contacts Using Facebook
One thing that iOS can automate for you is adding photos to contacts. Adding a photo to your contacts helps to quickly identify them when they call (their image will appear). Their photo will also appear next to any threads in Messages between you and them.
You can manually add photos to contact cards in iOS by tapping the Edit button on their contact card and then tapping the “Add Photo” circle and then either taking a photo of them (if you’re with them) or choosing an existing photo from your iPhone.
But like I said, iOS also offers a way for you to automate this process by using Facebook. Here’s how:
- First, make sure you are logged into your Facebook account by going to Settings>Facebook and logging in.
- After logging in on the setting screen for Facebook tap “Update All Contacts”. This will temporarily provide Facebook with your contacts’ emails and phone numbers. Facebook will use this information to match its users with your contacts and update the photos of those matches on your iPhone.
Step #4) Add A Profile Photo For Your Contacts Using Twitter
Not a Facebook user? The Twitter integration in iOS allows you to pull a Twitter user’s profile photo and automatically add it to your contacts too.
- Make sure you are logged into your Twitter account by going to Settings>Twitter and logging in.
- After logging in on the setting screen for Twitter tap “Update Contacts”. This will temporarily provide Twitter with your contacts’ emails and phone numbers. Twitter will use this information to match its users with your contacts and update the photos of those matches on your iPhone. It will also add their Twitter names to your contact cards.
Step #5) Use Nicknames For Contacts Inside iOS Contacts App
Not many people know this but iOS supports nicknames for individuals in your contacts. A nickname can be handy, especially for relatives. For example, you may have your mom listed in your contacts by her first and last name, say “Mary Smith”.
But when you send off an email to your mom it’s kinda stupid to have to start typing “Mary Smith” – after all, she’s just “mom” to you.
iOS allows you to have both her real name and her nickname on the same contact card, which means you can type either to send her a message or text. Here’s how to add nicknames to contacts:
- Select the contact you want to nickname from your Contacts app.
- Tap the Edit button.
- By default, the Nickname field will not appear so you need to scroll down until you see the “add field” button. Tap it.
- On the add field screen tap “Nickname”.
- You’ll be taken to the main contact edit screen. Now simply type in the nickname of the person and tap Done. You’ll now be able to bring up that person’s contact info in Messages or Mail simply by typing their nickname.
Why You Should Organise Your iPhone Contacts
The Contacts app is probably the least sexy app included with iOS – and one most often ignored by users. But considering how much Contacts integrates across the OS, it’s also one of the most important apps on a system-wide level.
Having an organized contacts book will help you communicate faster and easier with others while also greatly simplifying your digital life.
Most people use their phones to access the web and message people inside services like WhatsApp and iMessage, but every now and then you’ll still need to make calls and use it as, well, a phone. If you’ve got plenty of accounts packed full of contacts or switched numbers a few times in the past chances are you’ll have tons of duplicated contacts and, if you’re anything like me, a load of mysterious contacts you have no recollection of adding to your phone.
And most people’s Contacts app probably look the same: messy, with tons of duplicated contacts.
I had a gazillion duplicates in mine before I sat down to write this, and now it’s as organized as JR’s Rolodex.
The process itself isn’t that difficult either, it just takes a little patience and the end result is so much better, especially if you have borderline OCD like me.
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Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.