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How to delete multiple contacts on the iPhone

The world is waiting on Apple to produce a better Contacts app.
By
August 15, 2022

While Apple is all about positioning itself as user-friendly, it misses the mark sometimes — a minor but annoying example being the iPhone Contacts app limiting you to removing one entry at a time. Here’s how to delete multiple contacts on iPhone using an iCloud workaround.

Read more: The iPhone buyer’s guide

QUICK ANSWER

Go to iCloud.com using a desktop or laptop web browser (mobile won't work). Click on Contacts. Select the first contact you'd like to delete, then hold down the Control key on your keyboard and select the rest of them. Next open the Settings (gear icon) menu in the lower left corner and click Delete. Be careful — this action will usually sync across all your iCloud devices.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

How to delete multiple contacts from your iPhone on iCloud

Thankfully, the baked-in option to select multiple items on Mac and Windows PCs applies to the iCloud.com Contacts app. Here’s what to do:

  • Open iCloud.com in a desktop/laptop web browser — not on your iPhone. If you’ve got an iPad, you can still try so long as you’ve got a keyboard, and Safari (or another browser) is set to request the desktop website instead of mobile.
  • At the main menu, select the Contacts app.
  • Click on the first contact you’d like to delete.
  • Hold down the Control key, then click on the other contacts you’re trying to remove. Each one you add will appear in a right-side pane.
  • With those contacts still selected, open the Settings menu (the gear icon) in the lower-left corner.
  • Click Delete, then repeat to confirm.

Be very, very careful about which contacts you delete. Any changes will sync across iCloud-connected devices, so if you still want a contact on your Mac, iPad, or Apple Watch, you should leave it alone.

How to delete a single contact on your iPhone

Even deleting a single contact on your iPhone can be cumbersome. As a refresher, follow these steps:

  • Open the Contacts app.
  • Find and select the contact you want to delete.
  • Tap Edit.
  • Scroll to the very bottom of the editing page, then tap Delete Contact.

 


Read more: How to transfer contacts from Android to iPhone

FAQs

No, but you can restore them — see below.

Yes. At iCloud.com, click on your profile image, and then Account Settings. Scroll down, select Advanced, then Restore Contacts. You’ll be able to roll back to a previous state, though that might (in some cases) undo separate additions and deletions.

The answer is likely iCloud sync. When devices logged into the same Apple ID have iCloud Contacts sync enabled, any changes made are shared automatically. You (or someone else, if you share devices) probably deleted a contact on separate hardware.

You can turn off Contacts sync by opening your iPhone’s Settings app, navigating to Apple ID> iCloud, and toggling the Contacts option. If you do this, you’ll be asked if you want to keep or wipe previously synced info.

Going forward, you’ll have to update iPhone contacts manually. Turning sync back on again can potentially sow chaos, for instance creating duplicate cards, so be prepared to do some clean-up work.