How to Manage Contacts in the iPhone Address Book

Illustration of smartphone contacts.

 Studioleng/Getty Images

Most people pack the default iPhone address book app — called Contacts — 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. While the Contacts app may seem pretty straightforward, there are some less well-known features that you should get to know. 

The Contacts app that comes built into iOS contains the same information as the Contacts icon in the Phone app. Any change you make to an address in the Contacts app applies to the same information in the Phone app — and vice versa. If you sync multiple devices using iCloud, any change you make to any of the entries in the Contacts or Phone app is duplicated in the Contacts and Phone apps of all the others devices signed into the same account.

How to Add Contacts on iPhone

screenshot of adding new contact on iphone

Whether you are adding a contact to the Contacts app or through the Contacts icon in 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 (and to add the information directly to 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 screen to bring up a new blank contact screen.
  4. Tap each field you want to add information to. When you do, the keyboard appears from the bottom of the screen. The fields are self-explanatory. Here are details for a few that may not be:
    1. 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, or another type of number, such as a work or home number. This is helpful for contacts for whom you have multiple numbers.
    2. Email: As with phone numbers, you can also store multiple email address for each contact.
    3. Date: Tap the Add Date field to add the date of your anniversary or another important date with your significant other.
    4. Related name: If the contact is related to someone else in your address book (for example, the person is your sister or your best friend's cousin, tap Add Related Name, and choose the type of relationship.
    5. Social profile: To include your contact's Twitter name, Facebook account, or details from some other social media sites, fill out this section. This can make contacting and sharing via social media easier.
  5. You can add a photo to a person's contact so that it appears whenever you call them or they call you. More on that later in this article.
  6. You can assign ringtones and text tones to a person's communications so you know when they're calling or texting.
  7. When you're done creating the contact, tap the Done button in the top-right corner to save the new contact.

You'll see the new contact added to Contacts.

How to Edit or Delete a Contact on iPhone

screenshot of editing 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.
  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 in the top right corner.

You can also use the Contacts entries to block a caller, assign unique ringtones, and mark some of your contacts as Favorites.

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.

How to Add Photos to Contacts

screenshot of adding photo to contact on iphone

In the old days, an address book was just a collection of names, addresses, and phone numbers. In the smartphone age, your address book not only contains more information, but it can also display a photo of each person. 

Having a photo for each person in your iPhone's address book means that photos of their smiling faces appear with any email you get from your contacts, and their faces show up on your phone'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 or tap 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).
  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 photo that the contact will have. When you have the image where you want it, tap Use Photo
  8. If you selected Choose Photo, your Photos app opens. Tap the album that contains the image you want to use.
  9. Tap the image you want to use.
  10. Position the image in the circle. You can pinch and zoom to make it smaller or larger. When you're ready, tap Choose.
  11. When the photo you've selected is displayed in the circle in the top left corner of the contact screen, tap ​Done in the top right to save it. 

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.

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.