iPhone Contacts Disappeared? How to Fix Missing Phone Contacts in iOS

Jul 21, 2016 - 34 Comments

iPhone Contacts Missing Bug

A strange bug that continues to persist in iOS for iPhone mysteriously causes all phone contacts to suddenly disappear from the Phone app on the device. Most users will never experience the missing contacts bug, but it can be disconcerting if encountered.

This missing contacts bug is not subtle and seems to happen at random, with the Phone app losing the “Favorites” and “Contacts” tabs, as well as the Phone app losing all identifying contact information for existing phone numbers, making every phone number in the recents list appear as unrecognized with no attached contact name, picture, or any other details.

Obviously if you suddenly lose all of your iPhone contacts it can be a fairly alarming experience, since so many of us depend on the iPhone for basically holding onto our address books of colleagues and loved ones.

But don’t freak out quite yet, the good news is the missing contacts bug is usually really easy to fix for iPhone users.

iPhone contacts disappeared

How to Fix Disappeared iPhone Contacts & Favorites

Did your contacts disappear from iPhone? This usually fixes the issue:

  1. Open the “Settings” app and go to iCloud, be sure that “Contacts” is set to the ON position, if it is not enabled turn that setting ON again
  2. Force reboot the iPhone by holding down the Home button and Power button concurrently until you see the Apple  logo appear on screen, then release both buttons
  3. Once booted, return to the Phone app, Contacts and Favorites should be visible again as usual

For any instance where the missing iPhone contacts bug is encountered, the above steps alone should fix the problem. This is because it is rare that the iPhone contacts are actually gone, it’s just that a bug has prevented them from showing up, and the associations from iCloud need to be intact and the phone rebooted to get things to show properly again. There are some exceedingly rare scenarios where the contacts may be gone completely, usually by deliberate action by a user, and if you run into that type of scenario then you can recover deleted contacts by following this guide.

This strange iPhone bug has been around for years, though many users tend to experience it after updating iOS it can also happen out of the blue. Perhaps because it is so random and thus difficult to replicate in any reliable fashion is why such a bug persists and has not yet been resolved in the latest versions of iOS (iOS 9.3.3 included). Fortunately, the fix is straight forward, so if you find your contacts are missing, favorites are gone, and the Phone app in iPhone is blank, reboot the iPhone and flip iCloud Contacts back on again, and you should be back to normal in no time at all.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting


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  1. Carolyn says:

    On an iPhone 8 I accidentally hit the directory icon twice and just got a grey blank page. But in phone all four things show and I can get into directory. How to wake up the Contacts app on the Home Screen? I am afraid to try for fear of truly losing all data.
    Guess I better copy by hand all of my contacts info. to insure written documentation.

  2. Carolyn says:

    On an iPhone 8 I accidentally hit the directory icon twice and just got a grey blank page. But in phone all four things show and I can get into directory. How to wake up the Contacts app on the Home Screen?

  3. John7now says:

    THHANKSSS :))))

    They vanished, then i switched them off and on 1 time and restarted my phone…BOOOM..they are back.

    • Jo Klever says:

      I started with having trouble (getting seemingly totally unrelated error messages) trying to backup my iPhone (old) SE running iOS 11.x (I know ooooold); and after fumbling around with several tries and suddenly discovered the Favorites & Contacts icons were gone missing from the Phone App.

      The RESET worked to bring back the missing icons and the backup also works again. You saved my day. Thanks!

      It’s sad to see Apple is becoming and looking like MS now…

  4. Matt says:

    Really helpful, especially with the image – I started to panic! It’s 1am and I want to sleep (at ease!) and now I can!

    July 2020.

  5. Roberta says:

    Thank you! Rebooting worked. I’ve had this phone for 4 years and this was the first time it happened. What I have been doing consistently for days in a row is setting the battery to low power mode. I’ve been away from a charger and needed to use the phone a lot, thus this helps me remain charged all day to receive calls and texts.

  6. Andy says:

    I just had this happen. I Stared at the screen with a this isn’t right look. thank you for the quick fix. BTW I am updated with the latest operating system so it’s not been fixed yet.

  7. Anita says:

    I was freaking out!!! This tip was soooo helpful tnx so muchhhhhhh

  8. Fer says:

    Thank you
    I got my contacts back

  9. William Bradley says:

    no contacts…..

  10. Candice says:

    I lost all my contacts and favorites from my iPhone SE. Gone. Vanished. My son called and I googled his number trying to figure out who called. Then went to call him a few minutes later and realized I have no favorites and no contacts except three. WTF? There is no iCloud for my phone contacts on my phone. Checked iCloud online and nothing. Restarted phone three times to no avail. Geez. I’m getting sick and tired of all Apple products. The past month has been pure hell – between my iPhone and MacBook Pro.

  11. Srichandra says:

    Apple can’t claim to provide high quality service if they can’t fix such basic issues. It’s really frustrating. I face this issue every day and can’t be force rebooting repeatedly!!!

  12. Teresa says:

    Loosing phone #s and am unable to reset icloud because it doesnt exist in my phone now. The contact file dhows empty and have few photos there but cannot access site to turn in it on or off. Not sure what happen to drop it from my phone. I have not done anything to cause it to go away. Please help figure out whats happening

  13. Simon says:

    This has happened to me twice on separate iPhone 5’s so not so random. I have followed the simple instructions here and nothing has changed.

    No only have the names against my contacts disappeared almost all of my 1700 outlook contact have gone!

    Seriously is there a solution that WORKS?

  14. Jean says:

    Will try this solution. My phone transferred all my old information with the IOS app. I now have an older phone list, wanted to restore the contact list from the prior LG phone. Is there a way to adjust it? Thank you.

  15. Faris says:

    I really disappointed with this situation.I know how to fix but this thing keep happen and happen again…and taking time ..why don’t u guys working on next update to fix this problem…

  16. Brian G says:

    My issue is a few days after entering new contacts all from the same city, I type the city name to bring up all my contacts in that city and I get a list of No Name but the address is still there. I tried the iCloud tip above and hard boot, but does not bring the names back. I have re-entered the same contacts several times now and it keeps happening.
    Any advice?

  17. Voula says:

    Worked perfectly, thanks!!

  18. Lee Quinn says:

    Hi All late response but I am having this happen randomly in my users running iPhones over latest versions. Not finding any confirmations or solutions I had puzzled this to the point of asking this. Apple have a great management of approved applications and stability generally of their developed environment. My question here is what if that core focus is the reason for this issue? I have seen soft (reboot device) medium (remove local device contacts then re-enable) and hard (remove contacts and accounts then rebuild from cloud) I am not a developer but feel by isolating and eliminating that it is almost as if the contacts data/file locks up so while still on device is not accessible by the OS? So could it not be 3rd party sync like GMail or O365 limiting access to the data? Breaking the accounts, rebooting or resyncing device drops the lock and data rebuilds… anyway feeling through the dark here but I think the anomaly may not be IOS but non Apple applications getting in the way?… Thanks

  19. Jeff Cox says:

    No fixes here,totally disgusted my last I phone.

  20. Todd says:

    Where are my contacts

  21. Todd says:

    Contacts just are just gone can you find them

  22. Marti Van Zyl says:

    We have tried all the so called fixes but still nothing shows

    Don’t know what else to do

  23. Valeri Gray says:

    I have lost a lot of cell phone numbers. The contacts are still there, but they only have the email. I tried the steps above but it did not fix it. Any ideas how to recover all the cell phone numbers I lost? Again, the contacts are there, just not cell numbers.

    • Rod says:

      Hey! I had the same thing happen after a recent IOS update. if you find a way to retrieve them PLEASE let us know what you did. Thanks!!! Desperate.

  24. helen mahoney says:

    phone went black would not charge
    got new one (ha)
    now no photos, some contacts, with no numbers
    many contacts missing

  25. helen mahoney says:

    my phone went black no charging
    send me a new on (Ha) lost all my photos, many contacts
    have some contacts with no phone number
    no apps I am really up set
    I want to know how to get them
    I try the above steps

  26. Karalee says:

    My iphone running ios 10.1 , well I have lost the contacts and their information and pictures for a 2nd time in the last month!!
    I did the whole reboot twice and stull no fix?

  27. Q says:

    Thanks! This fixed the problem in an instant!

  28. Jim Roberts says:

    I had added a special ringtone to a group of contacts. After a time, those disappeared leaving only the default ringtone. I also wish there were a way to add a ringtone to a group all at once. As it is, I had to go back and individually change each contact’s ringtone. Discovered 2 different group’s had lost their ringtones.

  29. Eddietor says:

    ” This strange iPhone bug has been around for years, though many users tend to experience it after updating iOS it can also happen out of the blue. “

  30. avenged110 says:

    Part of the reason why I use iOS 6. My phone is an excellent and efficient phone and I don’t have to deal with something as ridiculous as this.

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