Friday, April 13, 2012

iCloud contacts not syncing

Newly created iPhone contacts not syncing to iCloud is an issue to which I recently came across and it was driving me mad.

Note: Before finding the solution, I looked for ways go around this and to keep a backup copy of my iPhone contacts directly on my computer in case iCloud continues to fail. As a result, I found a neat alternative way to export iPhone contacts instead.


The Problem:

If you google “iCloud contacts not syncing” or “iphone contact sync” there are numerous posts, including Apple Support Community ones which all talk about rebuilding your address book.

My problem however, was different – simply, newly created iPhone contacts will not sync to iCloud despite having enabled iCloud sync. The solution to this rather simple, but few people know about it and Apple is not very helpful in clarifying the way out.

UPDATE for iOS 7 users: there is a detailed article for causes of iPhone contacts not syncing and disappearing which you may find useful:

http://goo.gl/KfqfO7

How to solve iCloud-contacts-not-syncing problem in 3 easy steps:

1. On your iPhone, navigate to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar

2. Under Contacts, make sure you set the Default Account to iCloud

3. Now your new iPhone contacts will sync normally with your iCloud account

What causes iCloud contacts not syncing?

If you have enabled iPhone contact sync via both the iCloud and a third-party account such as your Gmail/Yahoo/etc. (via Exchange), your iPhone will have to decide to which of the two accounts newly created iPhone contacts are added.

It is your email account that your new iPhone contacts were synced with and not your iCloud account. Changing the Default-account option as the steps above indicate, will set iPhone contacts created outside of a specific account to be synced with your iCloud instead.

It is always recommended to keep a backup of your iPhone contacts at a safe offline location in case you misplace some or all of your contact list. You can use a number of apps to easily backup iPhone contacts to your PC.

To prevent messing up with your iPhone contacts list via using the iCloud, have a look at the video below which quickly shows how to export and backup iPhone cotnacts to your computer before syncing with iCloud:


47 comments:

  1. Awesome. Thanks for the useful piece of instructions. Something so simple could cause such a headache!

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    1. You are welcome, Marek! Glad the article helped you sort it out.

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  2. Thank you for providing this information, Bob. Unfortunately, it did not repair my problems. When I go to "mail, contacts, calendar" settings on my iPhone, there is no listing for "default account" under contacts, so I there is nothing for me to adjust. My syncing problem is both for my new calendar and my contact entries, and I do have the right "default calendar" selected. I think the problem is on Microsoft Office's end, as I get a "send/receive" error message stating that Outlook cannot synchronize my folders because it cannot connect to the server (even though I'm connected to the internet; see error message below). Syncing is working from my Outlook calendar on my laptop to my iPhone calendar, but not the other direction.

    Thanks for any further help.

    Wiveka


    Task 'Synchronizing subscribed folders for wramel@gmail.com.' reported error (0x800CCC0E) : 'Outlook cannot synchronize subscribed folders for wramel@gmail.com. Error: Cannot connect to the server. If you continue to receive this message, contact your server administrator or Internet service provider (ISP).'

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    1. Wiveka, you seem to be experiencing a similar problem but with a different cause. I am not sure this would work for you; however, I used to have a problem with the error code you refer to with my IMAP account.

      Check whether you have the following Windows update installed on your PC and try to uninstall it: Office 2010 SP1 (KB2510690). That resolved the "Outlook cannot synchronize subscribed folders" error in my case.

      Good luck,

      B

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  3. This was driving me crazy so I found your post. My solution ended up being something else very simple. (I'm on a Mac.) In Address Book on the Mac, under Preferences, General, the default account had somehow gotten changed to "On my Mac" instead of "iCloud."
    Maybe if this drives someone else crazy later, they'll see this.

    Morgan

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    1. Morgan, thanks indeed for your comment. I have a PC and I was not able to reproduce the problem - but this certainly would be of help to Mac users.

      It all comes down to changing the default account.

      Cheers!

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    2. Morgan, you're a legend!

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  4. Hi guys,

    Thanks for the post! However, despite following every step here and dozens of others, I cannot seem to port my girlfriends contacts to Google (or anywhere for that matter!).

    When I run that recommended app "CopyTrans Contacts", it only finds 10 or so of her contacts. Likewise, when in iTunes and attempting to "Sync contacts with Google" in the "Info" tab, it has only copied over the same 10 to Google. It's like there is something commonly different with those 10 contacts.

    Either way, I have hit a wall and cannot find any way to copy all the contacts over to anywhere! I've checked her online iCloud account and can see over 300 contacts on there, so they HAVE been backed up (seemingly)..

    Any help MUCH appreciated!

    Running the latest iOS and iPhone 4 and Win 7 PC.

    Thanks,

    Nick

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    1. Hi Nick,

      Note that Google Contact Sync (via Exchange) and iCloud Contact sync unfortunately cannot operate together. If you want to port your g-friend's iCloud contacts to Google, do the following instead:

      1. Disable Google Contact sync on your g-friend's iPhone via Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars
      2. Enable iCloud Contacts sync via Settings > iCloud > place the slider under Contacts to ON
      3. This will bring all the 300 contacts from your g-friend's iCloud account to her iPhone
      4. Now follow these directions in order to export all iPhone contacts to your computer:

      http://www.copytrans.net/support.php?action=showEntry&data=2224

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,

      Bob

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  5. I also do not have a "Default Account" under Contacts on my iPhone but it does sync without a hitch.

    My wife's iPhone does have the "Default Account" option and I corrected it but still no syncing. They're both identical iPhones.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fran, if your wife has the "Default Account" option this means that your wife has at least two accounts (iCloud, Exchange) set to sync contacts. If your wife uses the same identical iCloud account as yours, simply make sure to disable all other Contact sync accounts on her iPhone but the iCloud.

      Her iPhone should now start syncing to the iCloud account.

      I hope my answer would be clear enough for you.

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  6. My icloud syncing works fine but i cant get my FaceBook contacts that are synced on my iphone to sync to the cloud. Is this not possible ?? Does not seem sensible to me as i would like these contacts on my mac/ipad as well.
    Any help??

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Mark,

      You might be interested in looking here instead:

      http://transfer-iphone-contacts.blogspot.fr/p/iphone-contact-sync-with-facebook.html


      I will soon update the page as I found some alternative ways to bring your Facebook buddy data to your iPhone contacts. Stay tuned!

      Cheers,

      Bob

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  7. All of my contact are synced with Google. When I turn off the sync option in exchange it makes me delete them from my phone. I would like to use iCloud to sync the contacts on my phone instead of Google, but not sure how to do this since Google makes me delete them off of my phone.

    Any suggestions on how to get the contacts on my phone to sync with iCloud since turning off Google exchange deletes them from my phone?

    Thanks,

    Tyler

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    1. Hi Tyler,

      What I would do is export all of your Gmail contacts to a vCard file on your computer. Next, disable Exchange on your iPhone and let it delete the contacts from your iPhone.

      Import the physical vCard contact file to your iPhone and then enable iCloud contact sync. Step-by-step info + screenshots here:

      http://www.copytrans.net/support.php?action=showEntry&data=2530

      Let me know whether this helped.

      Bob

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  8. On the 6.0 I dont think you can make iCloud the default. In "Mail, Contacts, Cal.." I have my iCloud, Gmail, and business email. Default account is no longer un CONTACTS. There is a default account above that, but its under MAIL, that simply tells your iphone what email to use as a default when sending email.

    Any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Chris,

      Are you sure you have enabled Contacts sync for both iCloud and Exchange or CardDAV (for your Gmail)?

      The Default option will then appear under "Contacts" in iOS 6 too.

      Note that if you have not set up Exchange or CardDAV for your Gmail contacts in addition to your iCloud contact sync, the Default option would not appear.

      Is it possible that you have only set up Mail sync via having added a "Google Mail" on your iPhone? Then you cannot sync your contacts but only your email and calendars.

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    2. What if I dont want to sync my google contacts? Those since are extremely out of date and out of order. But no, i do not have my gmail contacts on.

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    3. Chris,

      In your case, the Default option does not show as you don't have your Gmail contacts sync on. It seems that you only have your iCloud contact sync enabled which is automatically set as your Default account.

      In this case, if your iPhone contacts are still not syncing to your iCloud, you might want to:

      1. Backup your entire iPhone contact list to your computer in case you would need to restore it later as per the below instructions:

      http://transfer-iphone-contacts.blogspot.fr/2012/06/export-iphone-contacts.html

      2. Disable iCloud contact sync on your iPhone - select "Delete contacts from my iPhone" upon prompt

      3. Restart your iPhone by pressing and holding the Home and Sleep buttons for 10 seconds

      3. Re-enable your iCloud contact sync and let your iPhone contacts get re-populated

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  9. Thanks so much, since this was driving me insane as I could not understand why I could not get my contacts from my ipod, iphone and macbook to sync properly.

    I appreciate the help

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  10. Synching my iPhone Contacts with iCloud was erratic... It would work if I somehow opened a contact, as if this would force the application to go and read the data on the server... And now it is working again..... But can I now trust the synching?

    Odile

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    Replies
    1. iCloud is a reliable way of syncing your iPhone contacts. I would recommend however that you keep a save backup copy of your iPhone contacts on your computer should something go wrong.

      You can follow these directions in order to back up all iPhone contacts to your computer:

      http://www.copytrans.net/support.php?action=showEntry&data=2218

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  11. Hello Bob,
    Friend of mine has got iPhone 4 with iOS6 on it. Not all the contacts are getting updated in iCloud. iPhone has got more contacts than on the iCloud. Also her iPad doesnt have all the contacts. Both iCloud and iPad has got the same set of contacts which is lesser than that on the iPhone. She has got outlook exchange enabled for her mails. So in this case, can I follow the step you have mentioned (switching from exchange to iCloud).
    Thanks a lot
    Surya

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    Replies
    1. Hi szurya,

      It might be a little more complicated than this. If your friend has more contacts on his iPhone than in his iCloud account, this means that he syncs his iPhone contacts with more than one cloud accounts.

      A cloud account can be anything starting from iCloud going through Exchange (Gmail, Yahoo, etc) and finishing with CardDAV.

      If your friend has his iPhone contacts sourced from multiple cloud accounts, this means that unfortunately, she cannot keep all contacts in one place. For example her Exchange contacts cannot be synced to her iCloud account and the other way round - Apple limitations.

      Your friend can do the following in order to bring all contacts into her iCloud account:

      1. Use this utility to export all of her Exchange contacts from her iPhone to her computer in a vCard format:

      http://www.copytrans.net/copytranscontacts.php

      2. Import her Exchange contacts from her computer to her iCloud account as per these directions:

      http://www.copytrans.net/support/import-contacts-to-icloud/

      3. This will import all of your friend's Exchange contacts to her iCloud account. She could hand-pick the contacts she'd like to backup at stage 1. in order to avoid duplicate contacts to go in her iCloud account (should there be contacts one and the same in both her Exchange and iCloud accounts currently)

      4. Finally, once the transfer has been effectuated, she can disable Exchange contact sync on her iPhone (as she will no longer need it).

      Let me whether this works out for your friend.

      Good luck.

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    2. Thanks a lot for the quick reply.
      Fortunately there was only one number on the exchange she wanted. So it was pretty easy. Even after changing the default to iCloud, we are not able to see all the contacts in iPad or in iCloud account.

      Delete
    3. szurya,

      Maybe there are more than one active contact accounts on your friend's iPhone. To check whether this is true, go to the iPhone Contacts app and tap the "Groups" button if it appears on the top left-hand side.

      There you can see what contact accounts you have and are shown. I for instance have "iCloud", "Facebook", and "On My iPhone".

      Note that iCloud is known for not merging contacts from different accounts. So even if you change the default account from your iPhone settings to "iCloud" this only means that the new contacts you create on your iPhone will be synced with the iCloud, not the already existing contacts which are in other accounts...

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  12. I appreciate your taking on this issue. I have the Settings>Contacts, Calendar>Default Account set to iCloud. I have turned off the iCloud sync on my iPhone and turned it back on to try to force an iPhone > iCloud sync. Nevertheless, I have contacts on iPhone that do not show in iCloud>Contacts. Syncing between iCloud and desktop Macs works fine. Syncing FROM iCloud to iPhone works fine. Just no sync from iPhone to iCloud. Exasperating. I rely on this syncing.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Jeff,

      This is odd indeed. How many of your iPhone contacts do not show on (are not synced with) your iCloud account. You could select these contacts, back them up to your PC in a vCard file and them import them manually to your iCloud account as per these directions:

      http://www.copytrans.net/support/import-contacts-to-icloud/


      Just make sure to also delete the above mentioned contacts from your iPhone before importing the vCard file to your iCloud account to avoid duplicating these on your iPhone.

      Let me know how it goes.

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  13. Thank you all for your valuable input. After reading most of the info posted here, I still have this problem: I just created a sample contact info on the iCloud web site and it was pushed to my Mac, iPhone and iPad, no problem there. However, I have a lot more contacts on my iPhone (that I imported from a Yahoo! account which is no longer connected to neither iPhone or iPad) and I have no idea how to upload them to iCloud. I don't know if it's a configuration problem or a push/fetch thing or what. I'm kind of new to both iPhone and iPad...any help will be greatly appreciated. THANKS!!!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Diego,

      I'd suggest to export all of your Yahoo contacts which are currently on your iPhone (but not in your iCloud account) by following the directions and video outlined here:

      http://www.copytrans.net/support/import-contacts-to-icloud/


      Please let me know whether that worked for you.

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  14. Thank-you so much for this page. You are 100% right in the lack of info elsewhere and this sorted out my problem. Many thanks indeed!

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    1. Many welcomes and happy to have helped!

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  15. This is a great step in the right direction. Apple seems to have so many tricks hidden, and no real support to help. I got an Airport Extreme for Christmas because I was told it was a great way to have my iTunes library on a USB External drive that we could share over our PC laptops. Haven't been able to get it to work yet, and the only real help I can get, I have to pay Apple for!

    That said, your site on this topic is very helpful. I, too, was able to turn on iCloud, and it led me to believe it was backing up my contacts every night. Then I logged into iCloud.com, and only found one contact: mine. After I set iCloud as default, I created a test contact, and it showed at iCloud.com. However, none of my others were there. I think I can use the copytrans software to pull my contacts off my phone, then import to iCloud.

    My concern is duplication. Won't it create duplicate entries off my phone? Or should I delete all contacts off my phone after I export them, and before putting into iCloud.com (OH NO! That scares me) Furthermore, some of those contacts come from my work, most are Google.

    I am not as worried about backing up my Work contacts as they're on my server at work.

    I am thinking it would be best to:
    -Turn off my Work (Exchange) account
    -Export remaining contacts to PC via copytrans software
    -Delete all contacts from phone (is there a quick way to do that via CopyTrans?)
    -Import contacts to iCloud.com
    -Turn back on Work (Exchange) account.

    Am I understanding correctly? Does this sound like it would work?


    Thank you in advance!

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  16. Thanks, this is working for any new contacts that I add but how do I add previous contacts to iCloud? I am using a MAC

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    1. Hi Anthea, are you trying to transfer contacts from your iPhone to your iCloud account? If so, are the contacts which you are trying to transfer from your iPhone synced with another contact sync service (i.e. Exchange or Gmail)?

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  17. Replies
    1. You are welcome! Happy to have helped.

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  18. Out of nowhere my iCloud contacts disappeared off my phone today. iOS7 doesn't offer the inferface your tutorial goes over, I still have all my iCloud contacts on my computer, iPad, the internet etc. but for some reason it isn't synced anymore. Could you help?????

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    1. Hi Colin, what I'd advise you is the following. Run this PC tool, connect the iPhone and connect your iCloud account with the program:

      http://www.copytrans.net/support/how-to-transfer-iphone-contacts-between-cloud-accounts/

      Next, select all iCloud contacts listed in the main program window, right-click on the selection, and choose "Copy to iPhone". That's how you can copy all iCloud contacts in one go.

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  19. I have a slightly different issue. I have a user that has Yahoo, Gmail, iCloud and his work email (Exchange) on his iphone. Recently his personal contacts have moved into his outlook on his work computer. How do we stop that from happening or what is the cause? I believe if we delete them from outlook it will remove them from the phone right?

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    1. HI Ryan, did the user sync their iPhone with iTunes on his work computer? This is the only explanation why his iPhone contacts would have transferred over to Outlook on that PC.

      You can delete the newly-populated contacts from Outlook on the work PC. However, be sure to un-check the "Sync contacts to Outlook" option from the user's iPhone "Info" settings in iTunes before doing so.

      Make sure to keep a full backup of all iPhone contacts (including the Yahoo, Gmail, iCloud and Exchange contacts) by saving them offline to a PC using the method below:

      http://www.copytrans.net/support/how-to-back-up-iphone-contacts/

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  20. Thank you!!!! I spent hours trying to find the answer to this problem and it was as simple as changing the dealt account to iCloud. Didn't find anything about this at Apple Discussions or in Apple documents: it may be there, but not for me.

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    1. You are welcome! Be sure to follow me on Facebook for more incredibly useful tips and tricks:

      https://www.facebook.com/iPhone.Contacts

      Delete
    2. Hi,

      I have imported a CSV file to gmail and added this gmail account to iPhone 5S to sync my contacts and calendar. I have reset my iPhone 5 times but the sync doesn't work. I have created a different CSV with other contacts in a same way from outlook and imported in other gmail account and added this gmail to iPhone and sync works, while the first CSV doesn't sync from gmail to iphone. Any advice will me much appreciated.

      Sharique Sheikh

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