How to delete duplicate contacts on your iPhone once and for all (with some help from a Mac)

You don't have to manually manage your address book on your iPhone. Here's an automated Mac trick to deal with those annoying iCloud duplicate contacts.

Kelsey Fogarty CNET Editorial Intern
Kelsey Fogarty was an editorial intern on CNET's How-To team.
Kelsey Fogarty
3 min read

Learn how to delete pesky duplicate iOS contacts from your Mac. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

iCloud can be helpful when you need to syncing information across your Apple devices, but it can sometimes leave your a virtual spaces, especially your contacts, a little cluttered. Thanks to a pesky bug among the moving cloud-parts, there's a possibility that you will accumulate a collection of doubles in your address book. These duplicate contacts don't take up much storage space, but it can still be annoying to have to scroll through multiples. But don't stress, we have a handy hack to streamline your contacts once and for all and you can finally find the information you actually want without sifting through doubles, triples or more copies of the same contact.

For iPhone users, though, this can be a bit of a challenge. iOS doesn't let you manually swipe to delete a contact the way you would with an email. Instead, you have to open the contact, tap Edit and then scroll to the bottom to finally hit Delete Contact. To make the process take even longer, you then have to confirm the deletion. This is on top of having to manually scroll through your contact list, which may already be thousands of rows. Talk about a slow process.

But if you have a Mac computer, you can speed it up. We found a feature in contacts that automatically locates and merges duplicate contacts and cards so you don't have to manually. We'll tell you how. (We've also got instructions for deleting multiple contacts in iCloud, too.)

How to delete duplicate iPhone contacts on your Mac


Deleting duplicate contacts can help your iPhone feel less cluttered overall. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

1. Make sure that iCloud contacts are syncing with your Mac. Do this by clicking the Apple logo in the top-left corner of the screen, clicking System Preferences, and making sure that Contacts is checked under Apps on this Mac using iCloud. You can exit out of settings after this. 

2. Go into the Contacts app on your Mac. (If you can't find it, use Command + Space bar for spotlight search or go into the top-right corner and toggle the magnifying glass icon to search for it.) 

3. In the Contacts app, you'll see all the names, numbers and addresses that you've collected and synced across devices over the years. To gather up all of your duplicated contacts at once, go to the top of the screen, click Card and select Look for Duplicates

4. After a moment or two, Apple will tell you how many copies you have, and give you the option to overlap them in a merge. This pop-up also includes a checkmark box that asks if you want to merge contacts that have the same name but different information listed under them -- such as one having an email address versus the other having a phone number. If you want to do this as well, check the box before hitting the blue Merge button on the right. The app will take it from there. 

It's important to note that if you have two different contacts that have the same name and follow these steps, both numbers will be added to the remaining contact. To avoid mixing up separate people, go into each person's card and use something in their names to distinguish them. 

When all is said and done, your phone should be free from a dozen contacts. And instead of potentially taking hours, it only takes a couple of keystrokes. 

For more, check out all the best features in iOS 14 and everything we know about iOS 15

Watch this: We found these amazing features in the iOS 15 beta