How to Export Contacts from iPhone

Use vCard files to transfer contact data to other platforms and devices

Man holding a cell phone and smiling

Westend61/Getty Images

Although most people rely on iCloud to automatically synchronize their iPhone contacts as a failsafe in case they lose or damage their devices, iCloud isn't the best solution for transferring contacts between different hardware and software platforms. For that goal, you're best served by exporting vCard files from your iPhone.

How to Export Contacts From iPhone to vCard

A vCard, also called a virtual card, is similar to the look and feel of an online business card. Apple allows you to export your contacts from your iPhone to the vCard using your Apple ID.

  1. Tap Settings, tap your name, then tap iCloud. Make sure the Contacts toggle is on. If this setting is not active, your contacts on the device will not sync with your iCloud account, and therefore cannot be exported to a file.

  2. On your desktop, open a browser to iCloud.com. Sign into iCloud using your Apple ID.

    You may need to use Apple's two-factor authentication to log-in.

  3. After you log in, choose Contacts.

    Screenshot of iCloud screen on Mac
  4. On the Contacts screen, you'll see a representation of your iPhone's Contact screen. In the bottom left-hand corner, select the gear icon, then choose Select All.

    You can also choose specific contacts to export by pressing Shift or Ctrl to select them one by one.

    iCloud contacts screen
  5. After you've picked the appropriate contacts, select the gear icon again, then choose Export vCard. Your contacts will be saved to your computer as a .vcf file for you to access later as needed.

Using the VCF Files

A vCard file is an industry-standard file format. Most programs, including Microsoft Outlook, support them. They load naturally into most people's contact lists, making the format ideal for transferring contact information with a minimum of complexity.