How to Manage Contacts in the iPhone Address Book

Add, delete, or modify contacts with ease

Illustration of smartphone contacts.

Studioleng / Getty Images

Some people use the iPhone Contacts address book for the bare minimum—name and phone number. Other people pack the Contacts app with tons of contact information. From phone numbers and mailing addresses to email addresses and instant messaging screen names, there's a lot of information to manage. The Contacts app is straightforward, although some of its features are less well known than others.

Information in this article applies to the Contacts app on iPhones running iOS 8 through iOS 12.

The Contacts app that is built into iOS contains the same information as the Contacts icon inside the Phone app. Any change you make to a contact in either place appears in both locations. If you sync your iPhone to other devices using iCloud, the changes you make to a Contacts entry is synced to all the other devices signed in to the same account.

How to Add Contacts on iPhone

Whether you add a contact by tapping on the Contacts app or by select the Contacts icon inside the Phone app, the method is the same, and the information appears in both locations.

To add contacts using the Contacts icon in the Phone app, follow these steps. To add the information directly in the Contacts app, open that app and skip to Step 3.

  1. Tap the Phone app to launch it.

  2. Tap the Contacts icon at the bottom of the screen.

  3. Tap on the + icon at the top right corner of the Contacts screen to bring up a new blank contact screen.

    Path from Phone app to new contact screen
  4. Tap each field where you want to add information, beginning with first and last names. When you do, the keyboard appears at the bottom of the screen. Scroll through the additional fields and add any information you have on the person.

  5. When you're done creating the contact, tap the Done button at the top of the screen to save the new contact.

    New contact entry screen on iPhone

Information About the Contacts Fields

Some of the various fields you can choose to use on a contact's entry screen are familiar, which some may surprise you:

  • Add Phone: When you tap Add Phone, you are not only able to add a phone number, but you can also indicate whether the number is a mobile phone, fax, pager, extension, or another type of number, such as a work or home number. This is helpful for contacts for whom you have multiple numbers.
  • Add Email: As with phone numbers, you can store multiple email address for each contact and designate them as home, work, iCloud, or other. You can also apply a custom label to the email field.
  • Ringtone: Assign a specific ringtone to a person's communications, so you know when they're calling.
  • Text Tone: Assign a specific alert tone to a person's communications, so you know when they're texting you.
  • Add URL: Enter a URL for the contact's home page, home, work, or another website.
  • Add Address: Enter the contact's home, work, or other address here.
  • Add Birthday: Add the contact's birth date here. The familiar default calendar is most likely the best choice, but you can opt for Chinese, Hebrew, or Islamic calendars.
  • Add Date: Tap the Add Date field to add the date of an anniversary or another important date related to the contact that you don't want to forget.
  • Add Related Name: If the contact is related to you, such as your sister or your cousin, tap Add Related Name and choose the relationship. This allows you to tell Siri to call your mom or your manager, and Siri knows precisely who to call.
  • Social Profile: To include your contact's Twitter name, Facebook account, or details from other social media sites, fill out this section to make contacting and sharing via social media easier.
  • Add Instant Message: This field covers your Skype, Facebook Messenger, and other popular messaging apps.
  • Notes: Just as it sounds, this is the place to make notes regarding the contact.
  • Add Field: This field gives you a chance to add a customized field from a long list of suggestions including pronunciation, maiden name, nickname, job title, and others.

How to Add Photos to Contacts

An address book used to be a collection of names, addresses, and phone numbers. In the smartphone age, the address book contains not only more information but also a photo of each person.

Assigning images to people in your iPhone's Contacts means photos of their smiling faces appear with any email you get from them and on your iPhone's screen when they call or FaceTime you. Having these photos makes using your iPhone a more visual and pleasing experience.

To add photos to your contacts, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Contacts app on the iPhone Home screen or the Contacts icon at the bottom of the Phone app. 

  2. Find the name of the contact you want to add a photo to and tap it.

  3. If you're adding a photo to an existing contact, tap Edit in the top right corner.

  4. Tap Add Photo in the circle in the top left corner (or Edit if you're replacing an existing photo).

    Editing a contact on iPhone to add a photo
  5. In the menu that pops up from the bottom of the screen, either tap Take Photo to take a new photo using the iPhone's camera or Choose Photo to select a photo already saved on your iPhone.

  6. If you tapped Take Photo, the iPhone's camera appears. Get the image you want on the screen and tap the white button at the bottom center of the screen to take the photo.

  7. Position the image in the circle on the screen. You can move the image and pinch and zoom it to make it smaller or larger. What you see in the circle is the image assigned to the contact. When you have the image where you want it, tap Use Photo

    Taking a photo for a contact on iPhone
  8. If you select Choose Photo, your Photos app opens. Find the image you want to use and tap it.

  9. Position the image in the circle. You can pinch and zoom to make it smaller or larger. When you're ready, tap Choose.

  10. When the photo you've selected is displayed in the circle in the top left corner of the contact screen, tap ​Done to save it. 

    Choosing an image from Photos for a contact

If you complete these steps but don't like how the image looks on the contact screen, tap the Edit button to replace the current image with a new one.

How to Edit or Delete a Contact on iPhone

To edit the details for an existing contact in your iPhone address book:

  1. Tap the Phone app to open it and tap the Contacts icon or launch the Contacts app from the home screen.

  2. Browse your contacts or enter a name in the search bar at the top of the screen. If you don't see the search bar, pull down from the middle of the screen.

  3. Tap the contact you want to edit.

    Searching for a contact to edit on iPhone
  4. Tap the Edit button in the top right corner.

  5. Tap the field(s) you want to change and then make the change.

  6. When you're done editing, tap Done at the top of the screen.

    Adding information to a contact on iPhone

To delete a contact entirely, scroll to the bottom of the edit screen and tap Delete Contact. Tap Delete Contact again to confirm the deletion.

You can also use the Contacts entries to block a caller, send a message, add to Favorites, and share a location.

Depending on how long you've had a given photo in your contacts, it may not take up the full iPhone screen when that person calls you anymore. To find out how to get those big images back, check out how to get a full-screen picture in iPhone calls.