Delete Contacts from iPhone the Fast Way, All or Individually
Need to delete a contact from the iPhone? Maybe you want to delete all contacts from the iPhone, iCloud, OS X, iPad, and everywhere else they appear, so that you can start anew with a completely blank address book? You can do both easily and quickly, and while deleting a single contact is quick and easy from iOS in the Contacts app, as of now the only way to delete every single contact in an expedient manner requires the usage of a Mac.
Wait! This is Permanent
Before proceeding, it is highly recommended to take a moment to back up the Contacts first with iTunes or iCloud, or through the Contacts app within OS X. If you do not back them up, you will permanently lose the address book data. On some occasions you can recover deleted contacts but due to variables with the process it may not work, thus it’s best not to rely on that.
Also, this is not the ideal way to remove duplicates, and if you’re just trying to manage a bunch of repeat entries of the same individual in the address book, recall the merge duplicates feature that will do exactly that for you. Try that first, though it’s not bulletproof and you may need to manually go through and either merge or trash the remaining repeats.
Ready? Let’s go.
Delete All Contacts from iPhone & iCloud via OS X
By using Contacts app in OS X, you can easily delete all contacts from an iPhone, and from iCloud. This requires the Mac and iPhone to be sharing the same iCloud account, which is the most common configuration. This is by far the fastest way to delete all contacts from not only the iPhone, but from iCloud too, thereby removing everything from all devices configured with the same iCloud set up.
- Open the Contacts app found in /Applications/, in older versions of OS X it will be named “Address Book”
- Hit Command+A to Select All, then either hit the Delete key or pull down the Edit menu and choose “Delete Cards”
- Confirm that you want to delete the selected cards by clicking “Delete”
Because the Contacts app on the Mac syncs to iCloud, all of the contacts that you have removed in OS X will be deleted on the iPhone almost instantly. Because this is not only deleting the contacts from the Mac, iPhone, and iCloud, there is no retrieving the address book again. Be absolutely certain you want to truly remove everything or else you will irreversibly lose all names, phone numbers, and data.
Delete Individual Contacts Directly on the iPhone
You can also delete contact cards directly on the iPhone itself, though it must be done on a per-contact basis as there is currently no way to bulk delete more than one individual. This makes it a slower process than the previous method.
- Open the Contacts app in iOS, tap the contact to delete, then choose the “Edit” button in the corner
- Scroll down and tap on the large red “Delete Contact” button, confirm the deletion of the contact when asked
- Confirm to remove the contact – note this syncs with iCloud and removes the same contact from other iCloud synced devices at the same time
- Repeat as necessary for to remove other individual contacts
You can delete one, multiple, all, or any contacts this way directly from iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The iOS based method is supported by all iOS versions, though it may look slightly different depending on the release you are using, here is what it looks like in a prior release with a different appearance but same functionality to delete the contact from the address book:
Obviously this per-person approach is much slower than the desktop approach version, which is why we’re listing it second despite the convenience of being on the device itself.
Presumably there will be a feature that allows multiple cards to be deleted from the address book in a future version of iOS, but for now the one-by-one approach is all that’s possible without going all out and erasing everything off the iPhone by resetting to factory settings. The downside to that approach, other than losing everything, is that once the iPhone is hooked up to the same iCloud account again, all contact data will just resync back onto the device.
Know of a better way to remove information from the Contacts address book of iOS? Be sure to share it with us in the comments!