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How to sync contacts from iPhone to Mac with no fuss

9 min read

The contacts in our address books are not just numbers and addresses. They are, first of all, people with whom we interact. So to make sure no one goes missing, the least you can do is have your iPhone contacts backed up.

The great news is that syncing contacts between your Apple devices is quite easy. In this article, we explain how to sync and back up your contacts with one effortless file transferring tool, how and when you should use iCloud for syncing contacts, and what’s the best way to manage your contacts.

Sync iPhone contacts to Mac with one click 

The easiest way to sync contacts from iPhone to Mac is to use AnyTrans for iOS

This professional backup manager and file transferring tool can export iPhone content directly to Mac by categories or copy what’s on your device in a single tap, transfer data across multiple iCloud accounts, and move content from iCloud or iTunes library to Mac. So it’s not just contacts — you can move any essential data across your Apple devices. 

Anytrans sync iCloud iPhone Mac

AnyTrans comes especially handy in major content migration — when you get a new iPhone, for example. Besides, its built-in backup manager saves you time with automatic instant iPhone backups done without you lifting a finger. 

To transfer data directly to your Mac, iPhone, or iCloud with AnyTrans for iOS: 

  1. Open AnyTrans for iOS through Setapp
  2. Connect your device to Mac with a USB
  3. Pick where your data goes
  4. Send it there instantly.

If your contacts should go further than your Mac — for example, you need to synchronize them between several Macs, drives, or folders, get ChronoSync Express. It’s an instant sync and backup solution that lets you hand-pick essential files you want to back up, as well as sync content across locations, spot and delete duplicates, and more.  

Chronosync Express iPhone transfer

Tip: Replace Contacts with BusyContacts 

If you mostly work with contacts on Mac, try a more robust solution than Apple’s native Contacts. BusyContacts has many capabilities that the native utility lacks. 

BusyContacts can automatically pull all your contacts from Google accounts, Local address book, iCloud, and even social media! It’s also way more informative, with the possibility to track your contacts’ activity across social media and emails; tag them on events and to-dos, and more. We also love the instant contact entry feature.  

busy contacts mac

How to sync iPhone contacts to Mac with iCloud

If you don’t have issues with low storage, you can use iCloud to regularly backup your iPhone contacts. Once you’ve synced the first time, any changes to contacts on your iPhone will be carried over to your Mac, and vice versa. This also means that you’ll be able to access your contacts online even if you don’t have your iPhone or Mac with you. But once again, iCloud backups can be brutal on your storage, so use it mindfully and check for free space regularly.  

Tip: Scan your Mac for redundant files and backups at least once a week with CleanMyMac X. 

To complete the process properly — you’ll need to first sync your phone contacts to iCloud, then enable iCloud contacts on your Mac, and finally tidy up your contact list once your iPhone and Mac contact lists are merged together. 

To sync contacts from iPhone to Mac, enable iCloud sync for contacts on iPhone: 

  1. Go to Settings on your phone and tap your name
  2. Navigate to iCloud and check the box next to Contacts
  3. If you’re asked whether to Merge or Cancel, tap Merge.

Please note that if you’re trying to sync contacts to iCloud on iPhone running iOS 10.2 or earlier, when you launch Settings, click on iCloud. Then follow the steps as described above.

Now that you know how to sync contacts to iCloud, it’s time to make sure that those iCloud contacts show up on your Mac. Basically, all you need to do now is to repeat the same steps on your Mac in order to download the contacts you’ve just uploaded to iCloud:

  1. Go to System Preferences on your Mac
  2. Select iCloud and log in with your Apple ID
  3. Check the box next to Contacts to sync iPhone contacts to Mac. 

Your contacts will now sync: any contacts on your Mac that previously were not on your iPhone will show up and vice versa. Once you bring everything together, you may find that your contact list looks a bit messy. Don’t worry, because it’s very easy to tidy things up.

Mac iCloud contacts sync

How to quickly tidy up contacts after syncing

When you sync iPhone contacts to Mac, the contacts from your phone will likely get mixed with your Mac contacts from Messenger or FaceTime. To keep the contact list organized across all your devices:

  1. Go to Contacts on your Mac
  2. Make sure you’ve selected iCloud contacts in the sidebar
  3. Tidy up, delete, or add contacts as needed

Give your changes a moment to show up on your other devices and then give yourself a pat on the back — now you know how to import contacts from iPhone to Mac with iCloud. 

Once you’ve synced and organized your contacts properly, you might want to export them from Apple’s ecosystem for additional safety and peace of mind. Good idea! If you wonder how to get contacts from iCloud, it can be easily done right in the Contacts app on your Mac: 

  1. Open the Contacts app

  2. Under File in the menu bar at the top of the screen click Export

  3. Select the Export vCard and choose where to export your contacts to.

You can now import your vCard into Gmail, Outlook, or any other contact management service and rest assured that you have your important contact information backed up. 

export contacts Mac iCloud

How to manually back up contacts on your Mac

From time to time, you might find yourself in a situation of contacts not syncing to Mac. It’s just one of those weird things when exporting your iCloud contacts might not work 100%. But even if it does, you’re safest backing up your contacts manually, just to have no regrets later on. Only do this if you have enough storage space to store your backups, though

You can manually back up all of your contacts right in the app: 

  1. Open the Contacts app on your Mac
  2. Click on All Contacts in the sidebar
  3. Select all your contacts by pressing Command + A
  4. Click and drag your contacts to your desktop

A .vcf file will be created, which you can add to your cloud storage or physical backup. You can also drag and drop individual contact cards if you don’t want to back up all of them.  

Another great way to keep your contacts out of Apple’s ecosystem or restore contacts from iCloud is using an app like Disk Drill, which will help you not only to back up your data but also recover lost files. It’s compatible with all major devices (Mac, iPhone, iPad, even Android devices, as well as USB and SD cards), performs regular data backup to avoid any loss, and can bring any kind of data back, regardless of the reason that caused its loss, be it data corruption, unintended removal, disk utility error, or others. 

disk drill recover files

Additionally, Disk Drill comes with a number of data protection options, like disk space analyzer and risk alerts to prevent any harm to your Mac and data stored there.

Sync iPhone contacts to Mac without iCloud (iTunes or Finder)

If you’re looking for a one-time solution to move your contacts from iPhone to Mac, consider the Finder/iTunes method. We assume most of you use recent macOS, so we’ll start with Finder:  

  1. Connect your iPhone to Mac using a USB cable
  2. Go to Finder and choose your iPhone under Locations
  3. Confirm that you “trust both” 
  4. Click on Info and select the option to “Sync contacts onto [device name]”
  5. Click Apply.  

If you use an older macOS that still has iTunes, here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Connect your iPhone to Mac using a USB cable
  2. Open iTunes on Mac and click Info in the sidebar 
  3. Select the option to “Sync contacts” 
  4. Click Apply. 

How to sync contacts from iPhone to Mac via AirDrop  

Sometimes, you might have a problem with connecting your iPhone to Mac using a USB cable. That would be when you don’t have the cable at hand. AirDrop is a great workaround in this case — even though it only allows you to share one contact at a time: 

  1. Make sure AirDrop is enabled both on your iPhone and Mac
  2. On your iPhone, go to Contacts
  3. Tap the contact you want to share > Share Contact > AirDrop > [your Mac’s name] 
  4. On your Mac, click the contact you’ve received > Add to Contacts.  

sync contacts airdrop

Sync contacts from iPhone to Mac via Google or Microsoft accounts 

If most of your contacts are stored with your Google or Microsoft accounts, you can move the contacts directly from your accounts. The contacts stored locally on iPhone won’t be transferred in this case. Here’s what you need to do.  

On your iPhone:  

  1. Open Settings > Contacts > Accounts 
  2. Tap Add Account 
  3. Choose Google, Microsoft, or the service you use
  4. Follow the instructions to sign in
  5. Enable Contacts on the next screen.  

sync contacts google account

On your Mac:  

  1. Open System Preferences > Internet Accounts
  2. Click the plus button and add the account to sync your contacts from
  3. Sign in and allow the permissions your macOS asks for
  4. In the new pop-up, select Contacts > Done.  

Why are my iPhone contacts not syncing with Mac? 

If you’re using iCloud to sync contacts from iPhone to Mac, go through this checklist: 

  1. On your Mac: System Preferences > iCloud > Contacts should be selected
  2. On your iPhone: Settings > iCloud > Contacts should be selected
  3. On your iPhone: Contacts > Groups > All iCloud should be selected

If you can’t fix the issue, consider an alternative method. The fastest way to sync and back up contacts is to use AnyTrans for iOS. If you need to transfer contacts just once, you can do that through Finder/iTunes. Lastly, you can sync contacts manually from your Google or Microsoft account. 

There are few things in life more upsetting than misplacing or losing important contacts. So learning how to sync contacts from iPhone to Mac as well as how to backup contacts to iCloud might prove truly vital.  

AnyTrans for iOS, BusyContacts, ChronoSync Express, CleanMyMac X, and Disk Drill mentioned above are available on a free trial through Setapp, a platform of more than 220 useful Mac and iPhone apps that provide a much-needed upgrade to your Mac workflow. None of your contacts will ever go missing when you have just a few of the Setapp tools installed.

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