restore missing iCloud Contacts

The best thing about having my parents in town is that I get inundated with troubleshooting questions about iOS, providing me with an almost endless flow of topics to write about. The latest troubleshooting request relates to a mysterious case of missing iCloud contacts that would have apparently disappeared after updating to iOS 10.

Are you experiencing lost or missing contacts as well? Then read on, as I’ll share one simple fix to restore iCloud contacts that might have gone missing.

Note that this post was done using an iPhone, but the solution to recover contacts that may have disappeared is the same whether you use an iPad or an iPod touch.

How to recover missing iCloud contacts

Before doing anything, I suggest you go to iCloud.com, login with your Apple ID and password, and go to the Contacts section. Make sure you do have contacts there. Obviously, if you don’t have any contacts in iCloud, you won’t be able to bring any of them back to your iPhone.

Step 1: First things first, you want to make sure that you have signed into iCloud. To make sure, go to Settings > iCloud. If you’re not signed in, login with your Apple ID and password. If you’re already signed in, move on to step 2.

Step 2: Still under Settings > iCloud, make sure that the Contacts toggle is on. If it’s not, turn it on. If your contacts still aren’t coming back, continue to step 3.

Step 3: In Settings > iCloud, turn the Contacts toggle off. You will be asked whether you want to keep or delete previously synced iCloud contacts. Choose delete. Don’t worry about losing anything since it will only delete the contacts that are locally stored on your iPhone or iPad. It will not delete contacts that are stored in iCloud.

Step 4: Now turn the Contacts toggle back on.

This trick should do it and all your iCloud contacts that were gone should have now been restored. As with any troubleshooting, your mileage may vary. I know it worked for my mom earlier today, and it also worked for me when I updated to iOS 10.

Also read: How to restore contacts from iCloud to your iPhone

  • A’s Network

    If things are going to be stored to iCloud… then they probably will get missing 😉

    JK. iCloud got pretty secure after the leak

  • mahe

    imho the first thing to check sould be if the contacts are stored in the iCloud …
    Otherwise you could lose all contacts.

    • Alex

      ffs didn’t check that and lost 90% of my contacts. thanks for nothing Sebastien

  • DJMannyD

    Great late night post Sebastien. Yea I can’t sleep either, excited about the keynote today.

  • Chang in Charge

    I’m so frustrated with iCloud right now been having this problem since i got my 6 where Shared Albums in iCloud are not working properly. For instance I select 600 photos to be shared in an album and only 300 show up. Or I have different photo counts on different devices for a shared photo album: my Mac shows the photo stream count at 400, iPhone shows 500, and other people I share the album with show the photo count at 550. It makes no sense whatsoever and I have never had this problem before. Haven’t been able to find anything on the interwebs either for troubleshooting.

  • And if you don’t have any contacts in iCloud you just deleted the little contacts you had…

  • Mac_Guy

    In my experience from working at the Genius Bar, usually when a customer states that they lost their contacts, they were in iCloud and for whatever reason are missing in the contacts app. The interesting part is you can still view the contact by creating a new message in the Messages app and searching for a contact. This is what I call “Ghost Contacts”.

    The only current solution that I have found is having a backup, restoring the device, retrieving that backup, turn on airplane mode (before iCloud syncs and removes the contacts), then turn off contacts in iCloud and ask to keep contacts on device, connect to Wi-Fi and finally turn on contacts in iCloud and click to merge contacts with iCloud.

    Let me know if you have other tips and tricks!

    • RarestName

      I’d first go to the iCloud website on a desktop computer and download all of the contacts to somewhere like Google Drive or Dropbox.

    • Ciprian Amarandei

      This genial. on iCloud the contact i was searching for is missing, but creating a message and start typing that contact name magically appeared . You saved me

      • Mac_Guy

        Glad I could help! But try the restore and attempt to resync the contacts back to iCloud

      • Luisa AR

        Thanks. I think I am now having my hopes up. I can see indeed the ghost contacts. I actually logged into icloud and restored. I got a message that it was restored however I still cant see my contacts. I tried to logout my icloud account but the message always says it is busy. I guess if I can really logout, it will be restored. 🙁

  • RarestName

    My assumption was that the contacts are on iCloud and they’re just not visible on the iOS device.

  • Trudy Connor WhatnotShops

    My husband does not use icloud and has lost contact information, how do I restore the database?
    Missing phone numbers and email addresses, notes are under wrong person!

    • Ciprian Amarandei

      create a new message and for destination start typing you missing contact. the trick worked for me. Read the above solution from Mac_Guy

  • Jay Jaay

    Just lost all my contacts on my iPhone and my iCloud…

    • Mac_Guy

      Did you have a backup?

  • Mauro

    Have you ever had a problem that iCloud restores a contact that is not on your phone anymore… and it restores with someone else name

    thanks

  • Vic Rattlehead

    I don’t know what the problem is, but my contacts will not get restored. F**k you apple. That is all.

  • Clara M

    mine are missing from icloud grr

  • Clara M

    I am going to give up lol

  • perdynh

    Just wanted to thank you. This worked great for me!

  • Zangdar

    I got this problem every once in a while, I’m really fed up with that, and every time I manage to get my contacts back but I forget how I did it ! Not sure I always do the same thing though…

    Anyway, this didn’t work for me, I could see my contacts on iCloud, I got the “ghost contacts” but the contact list was empty.

    This time I deleted the iCloud account of my iPhone (Settings > iCloud > at the bottom). This only deletes the informations that comes from iCloud that are stored on your iPhone, but will not erase anything on iCloud. Then I just logged in again, set the preferences again for what I wanted to be synced, and I retrieved my contact list !

  • Carmencita

    I still had some of the contacts left on my iphone, now IT´S WORSE!! I pressed DELETE (as instructed in step 3) and I lost a lot more contacts!!! No – they are NOT in icloud either because of the sync.

  • Alex K

    Fixed this for someone. Selected Keep then when turning contacts toggle on selected merge.

  • Chinotto

    You are the best! Step #2 was all it took. Thank you for saving my evening.

  • LMCraig

    Thanks Sebastian…this worked for me. The only thing missing in your step-by-step was the last option to merge contacts. Everything back in place

  • Greg

    For the life of me, I’ve become the recipient of my wife’s complaints, involving her Apple phone. My phone is Android based and it does everything I want it to the first time and every time. I can go from point A to point B without any hangups or detours. Simple, right?

    Today, my wife loses 98% of her contact list doing something with the iCloud for the first time. THAT’S BRILLIANT! Luckily, I found this thread to help her recover it. We haven’t tried yet, so we will see.

    Last night, all she want to do is transfer her pictures to the “C” drive on our desktop PC. Simple, right? OH HELL NO!

    Apple will not allow you to go from point A to point B without going around the block a couple of hundred times.

    The prompt we get says, “Make a left turn at iTunes.” The other prompt says, “Make a right turn a iCloud.” HOLY Mother of JESUS! ?????? Why do the simplest things have to be so damn difficult???????

    Both of those make for another series of processes just to get where you want to go. Like Larry the Cable Guy says, “It’s like wiping before you poop. It doesn’t make any sense!?” UNREAL!

    I’m almost at the point to have my wife throw her damn phone inside of a grinder and switch to an Android phone.

    Apple is nothing to me but a “bad apple” to me.

    (Venting over. Thank God I have a life!)

  • Daryl Peterson

    It worked! Thx!