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How to delete one or multiple contacts on your iPhone

Apple's contact interface isn't super-intuitive, but it's easy enough once you get used to it.
March 16, 2023

It’s always smart to trim your iPhone contacts on a regular basis — apart from keeping things better organized, it avoids potential mistakes, such as accidentally texting your friend John instead of your uncle John. Below, we’ll explain how to delete one or multiple contacts, including merging duplicates.


To delete a single contact, open the Contacts app, select the listing, then scroll down and tap Delete Contact. You can delete multiple contacts at once by tapping and holding on them with two fingers, dragging to select a group if necessary, then tapping and holding with a single finger to bring up the Delete Contacts option.


How to delete a single contact on your iPhone

Deleting a contact on iPhone
  • Open the Contacts app.
  • Select the contact you want to delete.
  • Tap Edit, then scroll down and tap Delete Contact. As a failsafe, you’ll be asked to confirm.

How to delete multiple contacts on your iPhone

Apple doesn’t make this as easy as it should be, or even offer official instructions. But it can be done.

  • Open the Contacts app.
  • Find one or more contacts you want to delete, then press and hold the first contact with two fingers. If there are others next to it you want to delete, hold and drag to select them.
  • Repeat the second step until all the contacts you want to delete are highlighted.
  • With a single finger, press and hold on one of the highlighted contacts until a pop-up menu appears.
  • Choose Delete Contacts.

How to delete all contacts on your iPhone

This is a drastic step that’s usually unnecessary and should be avoided, even if you’re transferring contacts to Android or dealing with an avalanche of duplicates. When scorched earth is the way you want to go however, here’s what to do:

  • If you’re currently syncing third-party (non-iCloud) contacts to your iPhone, you’ll need to disable that feature. Go to Settings > Contacts > Accounts, choose an account, then turn off the Contacts toggle. Repeat as necessary.
  • Next, go to on a computer, and log in using your Apple ID.
  • In the list of contacts, click on the top-most contact, then scroll to the end of the list and Shift-click on the bottom entry.
  • Click the gear icon.
  • Click Delete and confirm.

How to delete duplicate contacts on iPhone

If the Contacts app detects two or more entries with identical first and last names, you’ll see a Duplicates Found button beneath your own card at the top of a contacts list. Select individual contacts to examine and/or merge pairs. If you’re confident everything displayed is a duplicate, you can tap Merge All instead.

Why can’t I delete a contact on my iPhone?

There’s a possibility that it’s been designated as “read-only.” If you run into that problem, you may need to force iCloud contacts to re-sync. Try this:

  • Go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud.
  • Hit Show All if necessary.
  • Toggle off Contacts. When prompted, choose Delete from My iPhone. Don’t worry — your contacts will still be preserved in iCloud.
  • Restart your phone, then re-enable iCloud Contacts sync.
  • Once sync is complete, try deleting the contact again.

Another thing to try is deleting the contact from If you’re not blocked there, the deletion should sync back to your iPhone.

Can you recover deleted contacts an iPhone?

Yes, and relatively painlessly. Do the following:

  • Visit and sign in with your Apple ID.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page, then click Data Recovery.
  • Choose Restore Contacts, and pick a date before you deleted the contacts you’re worried about.
  • Click Restore to begin the fix. Note that any contact changes made after the date you picked will be reversed, not just deletions.