How to Manage Contacts in the iPhone Address Book

Illustration of smartphone contacts.
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Most people pack the address book in their iPhone's Phone app with the 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 Phone app may seem pretty straight forward, there are some less-well-known features that you should get to know. 

NOTE: The Contacts app that comes built into the iOS is very similar to the address book built into the Phone app. Most of the tips offered here apply to Contacts, too.

Using Address Book and Favorites

Adding People to Address Book

There are a few ways to add entries to your address book, including via an address book on your desktop (such as Address Book on the Mac or Outlook on the PC) and then sync them to your iPhone or entering them directly on the phone. You can also transfer existing contacts from one iPhone to another. To add them through the Phone app:

  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. This brings up a new blank contact
  4. Tap each field you want to add information to. When you do, the keyboard appears from the bottom of the screen. Generally speaking, the fields are self-explanatory. Here are details for a few that may not be:
    • Phone—When you tap Add Phone, you can not only be able to add a phone number but can also indicate whether the number is a cell phone, office, home, etc. This is helpful for contacts for who you have multiple numbers
    • Email—As with phone numbers, you can also store multiple email address for each contact
    • Date—Tap the Add Date field to add the date of your anniversary or another important date with your significant other
    • Related name—If the contact is related to someone else in your address book (for instance, they are your sister or your best friend's cousin), tap this field, tap the type of relation, and then select another name from your address book. You can add multiple relationships
    • Social profile—To include your contact's Twitter name, Facebook account, or details from a number of 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. For more detailed instructions on your options for how to do this, check out the next page of this article.
  6. You can assign ringtones and text tones to that person's communications so you know when they're calling or texting. More on that in the section below.
  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 your address book and categorized by last name.

Modify a Contact

To modify an existing contact:

  1. Tap the Phone app to open it
  2. Browse your contacts or pull down from the center of the app to reveal the search bar
  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.

Delete a Contact

To delete a contact: 

  1. Follow the first four steps for editing a contact
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the screen
  3. Tap Delete Contact
  4. Tap Delete Contact in the confirmation menu (or Cancel if you change your mind) and the contact will be removed.

Learn more:



The Favorites feature of the Phone app makes it easy for you to call the people you talk to most often. To access your favorites, tap the Favorites button in the bottom left corner of the phone app and then tap the person you want to call.

Learn more:


Ringtones and Text Tones

Make it easy to know who is calling or texting you without even looking at the screen by assigning ringtones and text tones to contacts. When a person calls, your phone will use the ringtone you assigned that person and you'll know it's them before you even reach for your phone.

How to Add Contact Photos to the iPhone Address Book

add photos to iphone contacts
Photo Credit: Kathleen Finlay/Cultura/Getty Images

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 much more information, 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 will appear with any email you get from your contacts, and their faces will show up on your phone's screen when they call or FaceTime you. Having these photos generally makes using your iPhone a more visual, more pleasing experience.

To add photos to your contacts, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the  or Contacts app to open it
  2. If you're using the Phone app, tap the Contacts menu at the bottom. If you're using Contacts, skip to step 3.
  3. Find the contact you want to add a photo to and tap their name. If it's a new contact, tap the + in the top right
  4. If you're adding a photo to an existing contact, tap Edit in the top right corner. If it's a new contact, skip this step.
  5. Tap add photo in the circle in the top left corner
  6. 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 (skip to step 9 for thinnest step in this option)
  7. 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
  8. 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. You can now skip to step 12
  9. If you selected Choose Photo in step 6, your Photos app opens. Tap the album that contains the image you want to use (probably, but not necessarily, Camera Roll)
  10. When you've found the image you want to use, tap it
  11. Just like in step 8, you should move the image in the circle. You can pinch and zoom to make it smaller or larger. When you're ready, tap Choose
  12. 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've completed 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.

Another Method: Sync from Desktop or Online Address Book

There's another way to get photos into your iPhone's address book: sync them from a desktop program using iTunes or web-based service.

If you have photos for your contacts in your desktop Apple Contacts program on Mac or Outlook on PC, any contacts you sync will bring those photos with them to the iPhone. 

If you use an online address book like iCloud, Google Address Book, or Yahoo Contacts, read this article to learn how to sync those contacts to iPhone. Any contacts that have photos in them will bring the photos with them when you sync them. 

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