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Backup iPhone Contacts

Updated on March 19, 2015
iPhone Contacts
iPhone Contacts

Sync iPhone contacts: easy and quick

I find iPhone contact backup and sync an important part of our contemporary interconnected, and often fast-paced way of life. Just a few years back iPhone contacts backup (if you ever had to reside to it) might have included saving of *.csv contact files from your PC to a clumsy CD-R archive which was worth for little more than collecting dust off the shelf.

Earlier – those of you who were born in the late 90s might not remember and could not yet have it written in your history textbooks – actual phone books, where you would manually write your contacts, were the most secure kind of phone contacts backup!

Nowadays, sync technology has made our lives easier and the iPhone, along with of course other smart phones on the market, makes it easy to back up your contact list and the seamless sync process is made almost automatic; there are just a few steps you need to bear in mind.

This article describes three ways of iPhone contacts backup and sync.

Back up iPhone contacts using CopyTrans Contacts

I decided to include an alternative non-Apple method for backing-up iPhone contacts which allows you to copy iPhone contacts directly to your PC. Reasons for which one might choose a non Apple iPhone contact backup may include:

1. iCloud is not applicable to you

  • either due to your personal choice of not sharing your contact data with Apple, or you have an older iOS version

2. You wish to safe-back up iPhone contacts directly to your PC without the need to use iTunes

  • again, a matter of personal choice: you might be one of the iTunes non-likers; you might find iTunes too heavy a program, or too restrictive and proprietary

A friend recently suggested CopyTrans Contacts to me as a new and simplified way to have iPhone contacts copied to one’s PC. Here is how the main program window looks like after having my iPhone connected to my PC. Of course I chose to include some sample contacts, so you are welcome to call Amanda :)

In general I found the tool’s user interface simplistic, offering a stripped-down-no-frills iPhone contact backup solution. Indeed, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea; however, iPhone novices, if you are looking to back up iPhone contacts beware: this might be what you are looking for.

The Steps:

Here is what you need to do in order to transfer and back up iPhone contacts to your computer using the app.

1. Run CopyTrans Contacts and make a selection of the contact(s) you want copied to your PC.

2. Next, simply drag the selection to the location on your computer where you want the contact entries saved. Alternatively, you can click on the “Export selected” button after making the selection and then navigate to the destination folder of your choice.

3. Just before the transfer occurs, you will be prompted with a new window to choose in what file-format you wish your contact entries exported to your PC.

In this example, I exported Amanda to my Windows Contacts choosing the “iCloud/iPhone” *.vcf format folder after having already exported the rest of my iPhone contacts to that location. This way, you can later import the contacts to another iPhone using the same tool should you wish to.

4. This is it. You now have your iPhone contacts backed up to your PC.

Playing around a bit more with the program, I have also found it useful when editing iPhone contacts directly on your PC or even creating and editing iPhone contact groups – a feature widely known to not be included by Apple with the native iPhone Contacts app.

More information and requirements for this method:

iPhone contacts backup with Yahoo!

If you already have a Y! account, this method would be one of the easiest ways to bring your iPhone contacts to life and safely back them up or even sync your Yahoo contacts with the existing entries on your iPhone. If you don’t have a Yahoo! account, I strongly recommend on opening one, as this would make your backup-iPhone-contact world a bit simpler that you normally are used to. I will create another article about it, but Yahoo can even bring your Facebook contacts together with your iPhone entries in one seamless iPhone contacts sync.

The steps:

1. Open your iTunes and connect your iPhone to your PC

2. Click on your device and from the Info tab, tick the “Sync Contacts with” option and choose “Yahoo! Address Book”; when prompted, enter your Y! username and password

Sync iPhone Contacts with Yahoo
Sync iPhone Contacts with Yahoo

3. Your iTunes will now establish a connection with Yahoo’s servers

4. Once iTunes is connected to your Yahoo account, you are ready to begin the backup and sync process; before you click on the Apply button, however, I would advise you to switch off your Music sync, at least temporarily, to avoid accidental wipe out of any of your iPhone songs.

  • To do so, simply go to the Music tab and un-tick the “Sync Music” option - you canalways tickit back later. If you cannot un-tick it, go to the Summary tab first, and from there tick the "Manually manage music and videos” option

  • Now to back up iPhone contacts to your Y! account click on the Apply button from the lower-right part of your iTunes window

5. You will see message pop up whether you want to Merge or Replace your iPhone contacts with the existing entries within your Yahoo account. To be on the safe side, select Merge. This will avoid any deletion of iPhone contacts which are already residing on your device

Merge iPhone Contacts
Merge iPhone Contacts

6. Notice how the iPhone contacts sync progress evolves on your iTunes status display

7. You can now observe how your iPhone contacts are automatically transferred into your Yahoo contact list; now every time you connect iPhone to iTunes and sync, your iPhone contacts will backup automatically to your Yahoo account.

iPhone Contacts in Yahoo
iPhone Contacts in Yahoo

This is it! You now have a safe backup of iPhone contacts to your Yahoo account which gets updated each time you sync iPhone with iTunes.

More information and requirements for this method:

  • A Windows PC or Mac
  • iTunes (preferably latest version - I used v10.6)
  • A Yahoo account - you can get one at -
  • Your iPhone

Sync iPhone Contacts: iCloud
Sync iPhone Contacts: iCloud

Sync iPhone contacts with iCloud

With iOS 5, Apple has recently introduced a new and convenient online backup (cloud) feature simply called the iCloud. The iCloud is still to show its potential as a multi-data sync and backup service in the months to come.

At this time, iPhone contact sync with the iCloud is a feature which I could only recommend. It is very easy to set up and iPhone contact sync is seamless.

The steps:

1. Connect your iPhone to iTunes and from the Summary tab, select the “Back up to iCloud” option.

  • This will make sure that each time your Sync your iPhone with iTunes, the iOS backup (backup of Contacts, Calendars, Notes, and Photos in your Camera Roll) is uploaded to your personal online backup storage space associated with your Apple ID, called the iCloud.

2. From within your iPhone, go to Settings > General and tap on “iCloud”; from the next window, simply slide the button next to “Contacts” to ON

3. Now your iPhone contacts will start backing up to the iCloud. iPhone contacts sync is a constant and seamless process which will make sure to keep your iPhone contacts in a safe place - as far as iCloud can be referred to a safe location of course :-).

4. Don’t forget to enter your Apple ID password if your iPhone prompts you to after you have enabled sync of iPhone contacts.

5. You can now log-in to your iCloud account by navigating to and entering your Apple ID and password; next, click on the Contacts icon and you will enter in to your virtual phone book, just as the good old times, where you will see your iPhone contacts quietly being synced between your device and your iCloud contacts space.

More information and requirements for this method:

  • No computer required
  • Your iPhone
  • An Apple ID - if you don't have one, get one here.

That’s it! You now know how to backup iPhone contacts via several distinct but equally effective ways.


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    • mobilecasedirect profile image

      Brian Schoedel 

      5 years ago from Naples, Florida USA

      Your detailed iPhone contact back up is very helpful. I back up my contacts to Gmail & use free 5GB space on iCloud which have been working pretty well.

      What is your favorite back up contacts method?

    • profile image

      Group contacts 

      6 years ago

      Good piece of instructions. I have always wondered how to create and group contacts on iPhone - and no, i do not have (nor like) Outlook for that matter

    • profile image

      Mike R. 

      6 years ago

      that's a useful article. iCloud is a mystery for now I will go with my yahoo mail. Thanks...

    • imake profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      gregoriom, very true.

      Indeed, the iCloud came at the right moment and is in general a well-though-out strategic step for Apple to move away from the earthly computer as a connection hub and use the flexibility of the Internet when it comes to users sharing and syncing their data (especially with many other companies, think Google, having done that already).

      However, I believe that for one reason or another iCloud's implementation was rushed up. The iCloud came almost unannounced and I got the feeling it was marketed as if it had been there already; just nobody knew about it!

      As a result, the end user is confused as to what the iCloud really does and how they can utilize its full potential.

    • gregoriom profile image

      Deninson Mota 

      6 years ago from East Elmhurst, NY

      I'm very curious about iCloud like you said it's a new feature very convenient, but I'm not sure about the potential of this new feature. Hopefully it will be a very convenient tool.


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