How to Merge Contacts on the iPhone from iOS
It’s practically inevitable for duplicate contact information to appear on an iPhone or iPad over the course of using an iOS device, whether by accident, typos, through sharing vcard information with others, or from something as basic as contacts changing their names and addresses, for which another entry may be added. For quite some time, there was no simple way of handling these duplicate (or triplicate) contact entries directly on the device, but that has finally changed with iOS 7, and now there is an easy way to merge those contacts directly on the iPhone.
Because this is done entirely on the iOS device, there is no longer any need to have to sync back to iCloud, iTunes, or a computer for the change to take effect, instead you make the change once directly on the iPhone, and thanks to iCloud, it will propagate automatically to other iOS and OS X devices that use the same Apple ID.
Merging Duplicate Contacts in iOS
The feature is actually called “Link Contacts”, which is perhaps why it’s not widely used and often overlooked, here is how to use it:
- From the Phone app or the Contacts app, open the contact you wish to merge other duplicate contacts with
- Tap on the “Edit” button
- Scroll down to find “Linked Contacts”, then tap on the green plus icon “(+) link contacts…” to link/merge the contact with another
- Locate the contact to merge (either a duplicate or a changed addressee) and tap on the name, then tap on “Link” in the corner
- Repeat for more than one duplicate, otherwise tap on “Done” to finish the merging
This instantly merges all contact details from the two (or more) contact cards into a single contact entry – it does not overwrite phone number, address, or email information, it simply merges all details into a single card.
In the example screenshots, the address information for multiple “Santa” and “Santa Claus” has been merged into a single card. The first contact edited will be the one that accepts the merged details:
Next, simply find and “Link” the additional contact cards, whether they are duplicates, triplicates, alternate address information, or whatever else:
Once you choose “Done”, there will only be a single contact for the details you merged (linked), in this example it’s “Santa Claus”.
The unique thing about the “Link Contacts” method is that although it merges the contacts from the user perspective, it can be easily be undone if you decide to unmerge/unlink the contact details. To do that, just go back to the contact in question, tap on “Edit” and then tap on the red (-) icon along the linked contacts details.
There are other ways to do this which may prove easier for some iPhone users, like those who have their device synced to a Mac and would prefer to manage the details from a computer, or for users who aren’t running the newest versions of iOS and thus don’t have the Link/Merge option at all. Two such alternate methods that can work in these circumstances are merging addresses from OS X and then syncing the address book back to the iPhone, or merging & removing duplicates with the Contacts app from Mac OS X and relying on the iCloud sync feature to carry the changed address information over to the iPhone.