Contacts Showing as Numbers Only on iPhone? Here’s the Fix for Not Showing Contact Names!

Feb 9, 2020 - 33 Comments

Fix contacts names missing on iPhone

A frustrating situation can occur where seemingly at random your contacts names are not showing on iPhone, instead only displaying the numbers. When this happens, when you launch Phone app to make or receive a call, you will only see a phone number rather than the contact name, and likewise Messages shows only contact numbers rather than names. Often if you start seeing only contacts numbers rather than names, this can cause some panic for iPhone users as it gives the impression that you have lost all your contacts information and contacts names on the iPhone.

Not to worry, most likely your contacts are not lost at all, they’re still intact and this display issue is either the result of a simple error, bug, or temporary issue, and there’s typically a quick resolution.

This article will walk you through how to fix and troubleshooting contacts not showing on iPhone, and/or contacts names showing as numbers only on iPhone.

How to Fix Contacts Showing as Numbers Only on iPhone

Here are some troubleshooting steps to resolve missing contacts names on iPhone for Phone app, Messages app, and elsewhere where you’d expect to see contacts names rather than just contacts numbers.

1: Reboot the iPhone

The first thing to do is simply to restart the iPhone. This fixes the missing contacts names issue almost every time, and it’s a simple procedure.

You can do this by turning it off and then turning it back on again, or you can issue a hard reboot. You can shut down iPhone through Settings and then turn it back on again too. Below are instructions for forcibly rebooting the iPhone:

Force restarting new iPhone models without Home buttons

  1. Press then release Volume Up
  2. Press then release Volume Down
  3. Press and hold the Power / Sleep / Wake button
  4. Continue holding only the Power / Sleep button until you see an  Apple logo appear on the screen to signify the iPhone has restarted

Force restarting iPhone models with a Home button

  • Press and hold the Power button and the Home button concurrently until you see an Apple logo  on the screen

Regardless of the iPhone model, after force rebooting the iPhone and the iPhone turning back on again, relaunch the Phone app and the Messages app, and the contacts information should be restored and visible again with contacts names and other info and details.

2: Check if iCloud Contacts Are Enabled

The next most common reason why Contacts suddenly vanish and appear as phone numbers without names attached is that somehow iCloud Contacts has been turned off, but you were previously using it.

Go to Settings > tap your name to access Apple ID settings > iCloud > and look under Apps Using iCloud and make sure that “Contacts” is toggled to the ON position to be enabled.

Fix contacts not showing phone numbers by turning on iCloud contacts again if it was turned off

Sometimes users may have accidentally turned this feature off, or sometimes it seems to turn itself off inadvertently after some iOS software updates, or even after crashes or perhaps entirely at random.

If you aren’t using this feature for some reason, then it’s a good idea to use iCloud Contacts because they’re so easy to recover and restore.

3: Change Region, Reboot, Change Region Again

Another approach is to change the devices language and region, restart the device, and then change the region/language back to what it should be again. Why this works is unclear, but it is reported to fix the issue for may users:

  1. Open the “Settings” app then go to “General” and to “Language & Region”
  2. Change the region to something different
  3. Forcibly restart the iPhone:
  4. Force restarting newer iPhone models, without Home buttons

    1. Press then release Volume Up
    2. Press then release Volume Down
    3. Press and hold the Power / Sleep / Wake button
    4. Continue holding only the Power / Sleep button until you see an  Apple logo appear on the screen to signify the iPhone has restarted

    Force restarting iPhone models with a Home button

    • Press and hold the Power button and the Home button concurrently until you see an Apple logo  on the screen
  5. Return to Settings and change Language & Region back to your country/region
  6. Check Contacts again, they should be as expected

Thank you to Cody for leaving this handy troubleshooting trick in the comments, it works for a lot of users!

4: Contacts totally missing? Time to recover or restore them

There are a few options available here.

You can restore lost contacts from iCloud with these instructions if you had previously used iCloud to store contacts before, and that will restore contacts to all devices connected to iCloud.

You can restore an iPhone from a recent backup to recover contacts as well, but that should not be necessary unless they have been deleted or removed since that backup was made.

If you exported the contacts as a VCF file at some point in time, you can reimport them to the iPhone that way too.

iPhone Contacts icon

Have you ever experience the missing contacts issue on iPhone? Have you ever seen all your contacts show up as phone numbers rather than names of contacts? Did the above troubleshooting steps fix the problem for you? Did you find another solution? Let us know your experiences in the comments below.

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Related articles:

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

33 Comments

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  1. JB says:

    I’m another user saved by the mysterious “change region” fix. Thank you for it! The ongoing problems with contact formats is yet another reason I am done with i-phones and going back to Android when I get my next phone. Seems like a lot of glitches are related to i-cloud. Wish I had never gotten involved with it, because it seems impossible to get out now.

  2. Jean-Olivier says:

    Saved my situation, thx

  3. Rosie James says:

    Thank you so much for the fix! Changing region then rebooting and changing back has sorted it out! Brilliant!

  4. Linda says:

    The first two fixes didn’t work. Changing the language/region powering down then changing it back worked! Thank you!

  5. Ak says:

    SOLVED MINE: Oh man, it was all in the contacts GROUP section, you have to check all.

  6. Usman Chaudhry says:

    I was in same situation. Apparently it happens when your iphone does not recognise your selected region. This problem is yet being investigated by Apple and it is some sort of IOS bug. Try to change language and region to some other region and then select your previous region again. It worked for me

  7. Hilary G says:

    I am bitterly disappointed in the iphone 12. It does nothing better than my old iphone 7 and a lot of things worse. I have no idea who is calling or texting me now because I don’t get the contact names. Have tried everything suggested here, nothing works. Wish I had never bought the phone.

  8. Kelly says:

    To restore my contacts I had to reinstall my old hotmail acct back onto my phone.
    I deleted it off the phone yesterday as I don’t use it anymore, I haven’t used it for years. Last night I noticed my contacts missing but didn’t know why. I tried all the suggestions above plus everything else I could find on the net. Nothing worked. So I reinstalled my hotmail acct on my phone. Hey presto, all contacts are back again. Weird.

  9. Arianna says:

    For me, it was dial assist. All of my contacts were imported and didn’t have the +1 before the number, and having dial assist on added that during the call and no longer recognized it as my contact.

  10. GB says:

    It’s crazy but it worked to change the Lang and region. I would have never thought to do that!

  11. thet says:

    adding country code did not work for me but changing region did.

  12. Joe says:

    Another fix to check – In settings go to mail and check that your email account contacts are enabled if you saved contacts to them.

  13. N says:

    Wow! That did it. After trying just about everything, this was what worked. Thank you!

  14. Wayne S Wieting says:

    None of the procedures worked. The names of the contacts are still missing and when a phone call comes in it says maybe so and so.

  15. Eirik says:

    Thank God for you, man! This was it.

    • Annette says:

      I only have 1 contact that shows as a number and have removed and re-added them and it still keeps happening. I tried your steps above and it has not worked.

  16. M.Terrell says:

    I tried figuring out what happened to all my contacts for 4 months straight. Went from 1200 to 116 over night. I tried everything from ICloud sync to changing regions and all.
    To no avail, I finally figured out that I had to download the Google contacts sync app. Once I did and paid the $2 fee, it brought back all my contacts from the past years. Hope this helps someone.

    • PH says:

      Thanks for the insight regarding Google Contacts syncing not working well with your iPhone.

      Keep in mind that iCloud is an Apple service and Contacts is an app from Apple. Google Contacts and any associated fees are from Google and unrelated to Apple or the Contacts app. Syncing between the two sometimes works and like anything else can occasionally be problematic, but Google is not really the focus of this article.

  17. Cody Petrausch says:

    I work for a cellphone company. When we see this problem, the best solution we found is changing the region in the phone by going to Settings > General > Language & Region > Change the region to something different, then force-restart the phone, and change the region back to whatever your country is. Other solutions may work, but this is probably the most effective, and it’s easy to do. Good luck!

  18. Gill says:

    I solved this issue by changing my region setting away from UK and then back again a random – had been inserted in my contact numbers

  19. Rod says:

    Just check if dial assist is on in Settings > Phone

    If it is, turn it off. Force restart the device. Turn it back on. Confirm Date and Time are correctly set. Confirm Location services are correctly enabled. If all is confirmed, don’t need to restore from a backup, as it might cause recent data loss. Rather, go through each contact and insert the country code before the phone number. Although time consuming, it’s the safest way.

  20. David McKee says:

    Not sure if this is the same with the current iOS, but another reason I’ve found with past iOS versions is that a number is in your contact database twice. It’s as if iOS doesn’t know which contact to display during an incoming call so it just displays the phone number. You can easily check this by opening contacts, typing the phone number in the search bar, and looking to see if more than one contact is displayed.

  21. David says:

    HI

    I have encountered this issue previously, but I realised that some contacts did and did not have a country code in them – in my case it was an addition +44 for the UK – Adding this or removing it resolved the issue :)

  22. J-L says:

    When individual contacts only show a number it can be that the number has been used for multiple contacts. E.g. you have the same home telephone number listed for several family members then it won’t show the name of the person calling either.

  23. Steven Friedman says:

    Your instructions for forced restart should indicate that IPhone 8 with home button requires the up volume down volume power method.
    Good info that you provided.

  24. Richard Wexelblat says:

    When this happened on my wife’s iMessages someone told me it was because she had Siri turned off. So we turned Siri back on and enabled hey Siri and the names came back

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