How to set up contact groups in iOS

If you've tried in vain to find this feature on your iPhone or iPad, here's the secret.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

I recently started a new business, and that means I have a lot of new contacts in my phone. Ideally, I'd like to group them together, if only to make them easier to find and view. Just one problem: There's no way to create contact groups on an iDevice.

Oh, Apple. This capability has existed since PalmPilot days. How has something so basic eluded iOS for so long?

Fortunately, there's a workaround -- one involving the Web, the other an app. Here's what you need to know:

Step 1: On your PC, fire up your browser and sign into your iCloud.com account. (You also need to make sure your device is set to sync with that account. By default, it should be, especially for contacts. Tap Settings > iCloud to double-check.)

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Step 2: Click Contacts, then click the plus sign at the bottom of the pane on the left. Then click New Group.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Step 3: Type a name for your new group, then hit Enter.

Step 4: Now it's time to add contacts to your group. Alas, you can't do this in iOS proper, either, so you'll need to stay in iCloud for a bit longer. Click All Contacts, then choose one or more contacts from your list. (You can select multiple contacts at once by holding down Ctrl -- or Command for Mac users -- as you click each one.) Then just drag the selected names to your new group and drop them there.

And that's it! In short order, you should see the new group in the Contacts app on your iDevice.

Qbix Inc.

However, that's the inconvenient, limited way to go. If you want a far more robust solution, consider free app Groups. It not only allows for group creation and management right on your phone or tablet, but also lets you send texts and e-mails to those groups, choose different icons for different groups, and so on.

Among other things. The Groups app puts the entire concept on steroids, and I'm already finding it indispensable. That said, if you've found a better way to create and manage contact groups in iOS, talk it up in the comments!