Ask a question »

iPhone contacts sync, backup and editing

September 2015


iPhone contacts sync with iTunes and iCloud


Although the iPhone is said to be THE Smartphone, it only provides unsatisfactory features when it comes to the sync of iPhone contacts.

If you want to copy iPhone contacts to the PC you have to create an entire iOS Backup, which is decrypted and well hidden in some mysterious Apple folders on your system. If you want to transfer iPhone contacts from your old to the new iPhone you'll also have to use the iOS backup feature or the famous iCloud. The latter is quite easy to use, but you don't have any chance to visualize your contacts or to edit them before importing all contacts to the new iPhone. This also means that you will totally rely on Apple for the backup and restore of your iPhone contacts. Yes, there are still some possibilities to sync your iPhone contacts with Outlook or Gmail, but this seems to be a little complicated and doesn't always work out the way it should. And finally, if you want to edit your iPhone contacts you have to do it on the iPhone itself and there's no means to create groups or to edit some contacts quickly. That's why many people decide to use 3rd party apps to manage and backup their iPhone contacts.

Here are some apps besides iTunes that you might find useful for organizing contacts on your iPhone:

PC Software


Tools that run on your computer and are useful when it comes to the management of iPhone contacts.

CopyTrans Contacts


CopyTrans Contacts is an all-in-one solution to manage iPhone contacts directly on your PC. Using this small tool you will be able to...
  • Export iPhone contacts to PC
  • Import contacts from PC to iPhone
  • Group iPhone contacts
  • Add new contacts to iPhone
  • Edit iPhone contacts and
  • Delete iPhone contacts


At first sight the program looks well structured and you might wonder where the above mentioned functions are to be found. Well, you should be familiar with the use of Drag&Drop and the right mouse button.

The right mouse button can be used in the groups and contacts field to e.g. create new groups, rename groups and delete iPhone contacts groups. When you use the right mouse button on a contact, you will be able to switch to the edit mode, to delete the contact or to add a new one. The same functions can be found in the main contact sheet in the right part of the application.

In the task bar of the program you will find the possibility to export selected contacts from the iPhone to the PC, or to import contacts from your PC. You can perform the same action just in dragging selected contacts from the program to your desktop. Drag and Drop can also be used if you want to add contacts to a group.

In the edit mode you can modify the phone numbers, email addresses, related persons etc. Don't forget to apply the changes, before leaving the program.

Basically, the program offers an easy way to manage iPhone contacts on a PC. Using a real keyboard instead of the tiny iPhone touch screen keyboard is very comfortable. Another advantage is that your contacts are not stored on a foreign server, but only on your computer. The only drawback at the moment is, that it is a Beta and therefore limited to 40 contacts per version.


Tansee iPhone Transfer Contacts


Another easy to use, but somewhat less sophisticated PC app for the iPhone contacts management is called Tansee iPhone Transfer Contacts. Using this software you will be able to export contacts from your iPhone to the PC. In doing so you can choose between the two file formats of *.antc and *.txt. Both are not very commonly used formats as the industry standard for saving iPhone contacts is *.vcf or *.csv.

But, with iPhone Transfer Contact you can choose between the export of single or multiple contacts and you can also save the profile pictures of your contacts. When opening the *.antc or *.txt format you will be able to visualize your contacts and the *.antc format also allows you to protect the contact file with a password. But, keep in mind that iPhone contacts groups or contacts that are synchronized with services like iCloud or Outlook will not be recognized by iPhone Transfer Contact. The trial version of this program only allows you to export 5 contacts. If you wish to transfer more than 5 contacts you will have to buy the full version for $19,95.

Compared to some other iPhone Apps that are listed below and have a lot more features this app quite expensive. The only advantage when using this software is, that your iPhone contacts are not stored on a foreign server.


iPhone Apps


Tools that can be installed directly on your iPhone and come in handy if you want to group, export or share iPhone contacts.

MCBackup: Export and import iPhone contacts


Have you been looking for an easy way to export and import iPhone contacts from and to your iPhone? MyContacts Backup allows you to back up all iPhone contacts into a csv or vcf file and to send it to yourself via email. This way you will always have a copy of your iPhone contacts online and can even save them to your computer. Just open the app, tap on backup, wait until the Email button appears and send it to one of your email addresses.

To import contacts to a new iPhone just go back to the email, tap on the iPhone contacts backup file and click on add all contacts. That's it. In my opinion this is one of the easiest ways to export a copy of iPhone contacts to a PC or new iPhone.

Groups 2: Create iPhone contact groups, delete iPhone contacts etc.


Groups 2 is a comprehensive iPhone app that allows you to create, manage and delete iPhone contact groups; to add, edit and delete iPhone contacts; to send mass emails or SMS to all contacts or all members of a contact group; to export iPhone contacts in vcf format and to merge iPhone contacts etc.

Additionally, this iPhone contacts manager is very easy to use and therefore one of my favorite In-iPhone Apps. Groups and Smart Groups can be added quickly and iPhone contacts can be added to the groups in a simple drag and drop gesture. With a click on a contact you can call, send a message, mapOut, edit, or export the contact from the iPhone. Stay with your finger on an iPhone contact group and you will be able to do the same for an entire group. If you click on edit, you can choose multiple iPhone contacts to delete or merge them, or to simply remove them from a group. Tap on the plus in the upper right corner to add a contact, group or smart group to your iPhone.

If you want to get out more of your iPhone contacts app, this tool is clearly a must have.

Duplicate Remover for iPhone contacts


"Duplicate Remover and Merger for Contacts doubles and Address cleanup" is not the prettiest app, but all the more useful. Like the name of the app already says, it identifies and deletes duplicate contacts on your iPhone, or merges contact doubles.

Once you open the app a button called "Search for duplicate contacts" appears. Tap on it and the app starts analyzing your iPhone address book. As this is the free version, you will have to wait for the result to appear and watch some ads in the meanwhile. Afterwards you can have a look on the iPhone contact duplicates and restore or delete them. There is no way of excluding contacts from the deletion or merge, but the restore button is crucial, as in my case the app deleted not only the duplicate contact but also the original contact. Nevertheless, it's better than nothing and if you've got many duplicate contacts on your iPhone it may save you some time.

Smartr Contacts: iPhone contacts go social


Smartr Contacts is an iPhone app that automatically creates content rich profiles for your contacts, including communication history and updates from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. To be able to import this information to your iPhone, you'll have to grant access to your social media profiles and this also includes the right for "Smartr Contacts" to post messages on your behalf on your Facebook wall. The merge of the contacts or the collection of information takes some time and did work only for some cases.

Directly from the app you can access Facebook and Twitter accounts of your contacts and email, SMS or call them. Basically it's a way to keep track of people you've communicated with in your life. Important people will appear on top of the contact list and with some luck some telephone numbers, email addresses and Social Media accounts will be assigned automatically. Unfortunately you can't edit contacts manually, meaning that you can't add information to your contacts, even if the app doesn't find it.

Summarized, Smartr Contacts is a good idea but there's still some room for improvement and I personally don't think that a right to post messages on users' Facebook walls is necessary to retrieve contact information.

Here are the app images from the iTunes Store page:



For unlimited offline reading, you can download this article for free in PDF format:
Iphone-contacts-sync-backup-and-editing.pdf

See also

In the same category

iPhone-Kontakte synchronisieren
By Saman.tha on February 10, 2012
Original article published by Saman.tha. Translated by Saman.tha. - Latest update by Jeff
This document entitled « iPhone contacts sync, backup and editing » from CCM (ccm.net) is made available under the Creative Commons license. You can copy, modify copies of this page, under the conditions stipulated by the license, as this note appears clearly.