Backing Up iPhone Contacts Without iTunes

Jun 19, 2012 - 13 Comments

Backup iPhone Contacts without iTunes

Anytime you use iCloud or iTunes to back up an iPhone or iOS device, the Contacts will be backed up automatically assuming the default settings are preserved. If you want to store an additional backup outside of iTunes and iCloud however, by far the easiest way to do that is with Address Book.

This will create a portable vCard file that contains all contact information, this can be stored anywhere as a manual backup and it can also be sent to other devices and imported to other phones, operating systems, email clients, and much more.

  1. Launch Address Book from the Applications folder
  2. Pull down the “File” menu and go to “Export” and then to “Export vCard”
  3. Backing up iPhone Contacts without iTunes by saving them as a Vcard

  4. Set the save destination and name the .vcf file something like “Contacts-Backup”

The file you just exported is the contacts list backup. The vCard format is widely accepted and can be imported into just about anything else while preserving all names, emails, phone numbers, and whatever other data you had entered.

In fact, if you attach the resulting .vcf file to an email and send it to another iOS device, Windows phone, or Android, you can actually transfer all the contacts to a new phone without using iTunes at all too. This is handy if you want to setup a new phone with only the contacts intact, are sharing contacts with a partner, or you are temporarily using another device and don’t want to manually sync it with a bunch of other stuff.

You can also easily send single contacts directly from iOS if you wish to back up a unique contact or just share it with someone else.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

13 Comments

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  1. steeve says:

    nice one, but in the other side without Itunes : MAC => Iphone ??

    • Paul says:

      Just email yourself the .vcf vcard file, you can import all the contacts directly into the iPhone that way.

  2. Hal says:

    The iPhone does not have an applications folder.
    How do I get the contacts from the iPhone to the Mac.

  3. abubasim says:

    Paul is assuming that everyone syncs their contacts with iTunes and to the Address Book on the the Mac. For those who do not, this tutorial will not work.

  4. Anelie says:

    A program such as CopyTrans Contacts would also back up the iPhone contacts directly to the computer without the need for iTunes. I have so far used it to create backups of me and my husband’s iPhone contacts.

    The problem with the automatic iTunes backups is that they are not directly accessible like a direct backup and you must restore your iPhone with iTunes in order to restore the contacts. I am not sure about the iCloud as we do not use the service.

    • Kevin Lou says:

      Thank you for your comment – this is certainly useful for Windows users, as Address Book is designed only for the Mac.

  5. Hal says:

    Thanks Anelie!

  6. DanM says:

    Don’t forget that ALL contacts need to be selected for exporting or else only 1 address will be in the .vcf file.

  7. adam says:

    No just do a Archive in File/Export/Archive…
    What the problem :p

  8. Mike says:

    I use the “Exchange” service from “Mail”, a Google Gmail, then login in “Exchange”, auto updates the contacts list to gmail contacts

  9. Huub says:

    Just use gmail, with contact sync. Than you can easily sync your contacts OTA (over the air), you don’t need iTunes or an computer. Every time you add or change √† contact it is automatically synched, and you can also use a web browser (in gmail) to change or add your contacts very easy…

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