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It’s never fun to accidentally delete a contact that is needed, let alone multiple contacts or even an entire address book. If you are in a situation where you have deleted contacts from your iPhone which you then need to recover, you can often get them back by doing various tricks.
We’ll cover four ways you can restore your address book or an individual contact to iPhone, and we’ll go through each one to understand their effectiveness and determine which one is most likely to work for you.
Before trying this, it is a good idea to do a manual backup.up from your existing contacts, you can do that with iTunes or iCloud, iCloud on the web, or the Contacts app in OS X. This ensures that if you somehow make things worse, you’ve got a backupup from Contacts to return to.
1: Recover the deleted contact from contacts in iCloud or Mac OS X
Although Contacts syncs via iCloud, Mac users can use the inevitable sync latency to their advantage and get back often deleted contacts by going to the Contacts (or Address Book) application. This also works with the iCloud web interface and is best with recently deleted contacts, or with devices that have been offline from iCloud:
- Disable the internet connection by pulling down the Wi-Fi menu and turning Wi-Fi OFF
- Launch Contacts (or Address Book) in Mac OS X, or Contacts from iCloud.com on the web and use search feature to find the relevant contact
- Open the contact and pull down the File menu, choose “Export” then “Export Vcard” to save the contact (s) as a .vcf file – this will serve as a backup.up just in case the next step doesn’t work
- With the contact still selected, click Share button arrow and choose “Email Card” to start the default email app with the contact card attached
- Turn Wi-Fi back on to send the email with the contact card
- Go to the iPhone, open the email and choose the attachment, select “Create new contact”
The reason to turn off Wi-Fi quickly is to prevent Contacts from syncing changes to iPhone. If you do this quickly enough, you will often find that the contact deleted from your iPhone is still in iCloud.com or Contacts app in OS X.
2: Retrieve deleted contacts by resyncing iCloud
This basically syncs your existing contact list with what is stored in iCloud. It doesn’t always work to recover deleted contacts but it’s worth a try like the above trick was not a success:
- Open Settings and go to “iCloud”
- Set Contacts to OFF
- When asked what to do with previously synced contacts, choose “Save to My iPhone”
- Switch Contacts to ON
- Choose “Merge” to merge existing contacts with those stored in iCloud
- Go back to the Contacts (or Phone) and check if the deleted contacts are back
When this method works, it is extremely easy and quite fast, but there is no guarantee here.
3: restore everything from an iTunes backupup
If you regularly sync your iPhone with a computer, you can restore iPhone from a backupup in iTunes and recover deleted contacts that way. This will restore them, but it obviously requires you to be synced and backed up.up have made up the device on a computer before the deletion incident occurred:
- Connect the iPhone to a computer it is backing upup has made up in front of
- Launch iTunes and choose “Restore from Backupup”
- Select the most recent backupup prior to deleting and restoring the contact (s)
Recovery can take a while, so just let it sit. Once done, restart iPhone and have your contacts back.
4: Get the contact back from someone else
If it is a single contact, find out if a friend, family member or colleague has the contact details and then have them share it with you, it will be much easier and faster than any other pick-up method. Of course, this is not an option if no one else has the addressee information, making it perhaps the least universally applicable option.
Losing important contacts is a big deal, and while it’s a recoverable one, it does emphasize the importance of regular backups, both locally on a computer and on iCloud. So back up regularly, and don’t let it happen again!
A quick side note: there are a million and a third party apps preying on the desperate and claiming to be able to recover deleted contacts. These usually charge high prices and do not offer any guarantees. Don’t buy into it, most of them are no more effective than manual methods outlined here.
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