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How to delete multiple contacts in iCloud

Looking to clean up your address book? Don't waste time removing contacts one by one.

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


Over time, the average address book gets cluttered with contacts you no longer need or want. Granted, it's not like they're taking up much space in your phone, but every so often you might want to do a little house-cleaning. If nothing else, a streamlined address book will make it easier to find the contacts you do want.

For iOS users, this poses a slight challenge. You can't just swipe to delete a contact they way you do an e-mail. Rather, you have to open the contact, tap Edit, then scroll all the way down and tap Delete Contact. And then you have to confirm the deletion! Talk about slow going.

You can speed this up a bit by signing into your iCloud account in your desktop browser. Or so it would seem: You still have to select a contact, click Edit, click Delete Contact, and then confirm.

Thankfully, you can batch-delete multiple contacts, even if the process isn't immediately obvious. Here's how:

Step one: Open iCloud in your desktop browser, then click Contacts. (Note that all this presumes you're syncing your iOS device with iCloud. If you're not, this tutorial doesn't apply.)

You can select multiple contacts within iCloud, then delete them all at once.
You can select multiple contacts within iCloud, then delete them all at once. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Step two: While holding down the Ctrl key (or Command key if you're a Mac user), click the first contact you want to delete, then the next, and then the next. Keep clicking until you've selected a batch.

Step three: Release the Ctrl (or Command) key, and your selected contacts will remain selected. Notice that there's no longer an Edit option, nor is there a Delete icon or anything similar. This is where Apple makes things mildly confusing, in my humble opinion.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Step four: Way over in the lower-left corner of the screen, click the little gear icon to bring up the Actions menu. Now click Delete. Confirm the deletions.

As you may have noticed within this menu, there is a keyboard shortcut: the Delete key. In other words, you could skip step four and press Delete after you've selected contacts.

After you're done, iCloud should sync with your iPhone or iPad address book to make the same deletions. Ultimately this is much faster than removing contacts one at a time.