Delete contacts on iPhone

Had some issues syncing a colleagues contacts. Basically, his synched with every address book it could find and now he has hundreds of contacts on his iPhone that he doesn’t need.�� Our first question was, can we delete our contacts on the iPhone itself and the second question was could we mass delete contacts on the iPhone.� The reason why we ask this is that he didn’t have his computer close to him so he couldn’t delete using iTunes.�

The answer to the first question is yes.� It isn’t very obvious but you need to go to your contacts, select the contact you want to delete.� In the upper right hand corner, there is an “edit” button.� Once you do that scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the “Delete Contact” button.� Seems pretty obvious now but wasn’t when your first trying.

The answer to the second question is probably not.� Searched the Internet and tried different ways to delete in mass and failed.� If you know of any way to mass delete contacts, please leave a comment.� It would be greatly appreciated.

Update(7.11.08): After installing the new 2.0 software on my iPhone, it doesn’t look like there is a clear way of mass deleteing contacts throught the iPhone interface.� I heard rumors that there would be but it looks like that’s all it turned out to be, rumors.� Right now , it seems like you would have to delete them all on the exchange server through OWA or Outlook and the sync.� Any ideas?

Update(7.13.08): Looked over the revised iPhone manual and there is no reference to mass deleting contacts from within the iPhone.� Looks like we are SOL.� Maybe the next software release?

Update (11.25.08): Apple released version 2.2 for the iPhone and unfortunately, it has no remedy for the mass deletion of contacts on the iPhone.� Here’s to hoping for the next release.

46 thoughts on “Delete contacts on iPhone

  1. Simply Jailbreak your device so it no longer is confined! Once you can easily access any and all features of the iPhone that you desire. The iPhone is your device, you must free it from its limited state in order for it to realize its full potential.

  2. I have thought about Jailbreaking the iPhone but we will be using them in an enterprise environment and as of now, don’t feel comfortable tryting to support multiple iPhones that have been Jailbroken. Still an option but not one we are willing to try at this point.

  3. To delete your iPhone contacts, simply remove the desired contacts from your app. Address Book on Mac or Outlook on Win. In iTunes, select your device, go to the Info tab, scroll all the way to the botton. Check the Contacts radio button. For one sync, this will cause a directional sync from your computer to your iPhone instead of doing a merge.

  4. Yeah, I mentioned that in the post but the quest for most users is to be able to do this through the iPhone. This is important for the road warriors that don’t have Outlook or address book on the Mac readily available for them.
    Thanks for the input!

  5. You can mass delete by re-synching ‘Contacts’ in the ‘Advanced’ section of the Info tab in iTunes. Select Contacts under the ‘Replace information on this iPhone’, click Apply and re-sync.

  6. @Jonahan: Thanks for the suggestion. We are still looking for a way to do it from the iPhone but that will be up to Apple. Cheers!

  7. I found out how to delete multiple contacts on the iphone, unfortunately you must reset your entire iphone. I had 850 contacts and I got the new 3G. I refused to delete them one by one.

    I went to settings on the iphone and then general and then erase all content and settings this deleted all the contacts on my phone and I was able to give my old one to the ubby while I enjoy the new 3G.

    Hope this helps. I am so excited that I figured it out.

  8. Thank you for the suggestion. This does seem like it will work and is one of the better suggestions I’ve heard. The only problem, of course, is that you will have to re-enter all of your settings and preferences within your iPhone. If you have a ton of contacts, this would still probably be faster than trying to delete each contact individually. At least we have another option.
    Not the fix we need…. yet.

  9. This is one of the most straight foward blogs I have read regarding the infamous question of “mass deleting” contacts from the iPhone. I am searching for a solution to this problem and was beginning to lose hope with all the blogs I read because they were not clear at all. Although there seems to be no easy, logical, quick solution, I just wanted to say thanks for reassuring me that someone can write clear questions and answers!!!


  10. How to delete all iPhone contacts without resetting everything:

    Create a new Windows user account. There will be no contacts in this user’s account. Open iTunes, on the Info tab, Select ‘Sync contacts with Outlook’ , all contacts. Then in the Advanced section at the bottom, select ‘Contacts’ below ‘Replace information on this phone’.

    Now click Sync. Since there are no contacts and you’re replacing the ones that are there, the result is No Contacts!

  11. @Juliana – You’re welcome and thank your for reading my blog. Hope to see you here again.
    @rjbudz – Thanks for the suggestion. it’s great to see so much out of the box thinking when it comes to this issue.

  12. hi i had the same problem so i went to my address book on the computer moved all email acounts to another folder deleted it and synced the phone with the remaining phone number contacts then restored the deleted wile and moved the email addresses back took only 5 mins and worked fine thanks peter

  13. sorry to edit my last coment but i could not restore the file i had to select all the emaill addresses and rightclick to copy then add them back in after just right click again and paste then hold return it will add rem all may take couple of minute hope this helps you all peter

  14. I culled areplace info on I Phone the duplicates and unused contacts on the mac book pro address book then sync’d with iphone using Advanced (Replace info on this phone) NG I ended up with duplicates!

  15. Easy Way (atleast for me, took a few mins.)

    Iphone used: 2G on 2.0 should work

    I originally synced the phone to the windows address book, which got me way to many contacts from outlook.

    How I fixed it.
    (Note: This worked because the yahoo email I synced to had like 1 contact on it)

    Went to info in the iphone in itunes, changed the sync to “Yahoo address book”, instead of outlook. Itunes prompted me to enter my yahoo email username and password and after that it asked if i wanted to merge or Replace the contacts on my iphone.
    Click “replace” to get rid of all ur contacts, as they will be deleted and replaced by the ones in the yahoo address book. Click Merge to add to them.
    Sync and done. (After you can go in and take off auto sync for contacts from any address if you like)

    Now I know some of you may not have a yahoo email account, then I say get a dummy one. OR
    Some of you might say u have way too many contacts on your yahoo email account and to that I say make another dummy account.

    Sync the iphone to a yahoomail dummy account (or yahoo acct with a few contacts) and all ur iphone contacts can by replaced when syncing with the yahoo ones. I’m not sure if you need to atleast have one, but I had atleast one and the sync to yahoo address book allowed me to replace a few hundred contacts with 1 from yahoo acct. Hope it helps. Later

  16. I used a variant of rjbudz suggestion and it worked like a charm. In my case, I created a null (that is, empty) Windows Address file, and then changed the preference on the Contacts list in iTunes to this file. When I next sync’ed the Contacts from the computer, it erased all of my unusable contacts copied in a previous sync procedure. After this, I was able to recopy from my original contacts from the SIM by hitting Settings-Mail, Contacts,Calendars-Import SIM Contacts. Had to add any additional settings, but compared to having to erase ~3000 entries, it was best option and seemed better than Erasing All Content and Settings..

  17. Not sure. For some, resetting the iPhone to factory defaults or erasing the data will be fast, unless you have a ton of stuff to restore on the phone. Still waiting for that one suggestion that will work for everyone.

  18. Thanks taxbax. Looks like a new option for everyone. You can find Sync In A Blink in the APP store in the Utilities section. It will cost you $4.99. Still not sure this will do exactly what everyone wants but if anyone has tried, please let us know your results.

  19. 1) Jailbreak your iPhone to 2.1 with WinPawn or Quickpawn
    2) Install Cydia
    3) Go at Cydia’s repository and install the small app EraseContacts

    run & enjoy 🙂

  20. It’s real simple!!!!

    1. Just add another contact group in your “contacts” with just one vcard in it.
    2. Sync this particular group (via Itunes).
    3. Delete the added group as mentioned in step 1.

    And voila! Your phone is empty!!!!!!!!

  21. I read all about mass deleting contacts…if we reset all contacts will be deleted but does they delete data in iphone (songs and photos etc)

  22. hahahaha it’s sO obviouusss!!!! :S I spent like 2 days thinking how.. I went 2 edit & change the persOn.. i said. if i can’t delete it.. i’ll make it someone else i really need.. i feel kind of stupid now! hahahaha 😀 thank U sooooo mucH! 😀

  23. I just opened a empty Outlook contact list (a new one). I named it “Kill_on_iPhone”.
    Then I started the sync in iTunes using sync parameter “contacts sync”, “selected groups” and activate only the new Outlook contact list “Kill_on_iPhone”, press “sync” button….
    ….surprise: my iPhone contact list was empty

  24. Thanks TheTruth! I had been looking for a solution to mass delete my iphone contacts, and your suggestion worked great! In itunes, I synced my iphone contacts with an empty Contacts Yahoo address book. Worked great!

  25. The answer provided by TheTruth (about using a dummy yahoo account) was perfect for me. Was able to wipe out 600+ contacts in seconds.

  26. create a new profile in outlook, pop3 is easiest. tell oulook to ask for profile each time it opens. open your blank pop profile and sync. this will clear your contacts if you have the settings right in itunes

  27. TheTruth spoke the truth. But it acted a little funky at first. The sync to Yahoo made my iPhone empty, but loaded Yahoo with all the contacts from my iPhone. Weird. (I’m using iPhone OS 2.2.) After that I disabled sync to Yahoo, then imported my address book archive, which had the contacts and groups properly defined. Then I re-enabled MobileMe sync, and made sure that my Address Book was syncing with MobileMe. Finally, I used iTunes to sync the iPhone to my contacts. Bam! Five groups (and ONLY five), and all my contacts. Thanks!

  28. There is actually a very easy way to do this from iTunes without deleting any of your other content, and without doing a restart. In that you can synch with either Yahoo or Google email accounts, all you have to do is start a new email – easiest with Yahoo and takes 2 minutes. Once you’ve done that, change your synch from Outlook to Yahoo and input that address & password. Tell iTunes to replace your current contacts rather than merge and since you won’t have any in the new email account your contact list will now be empty… The whole process took me 5 minutes.

  29. What if I wanted to delete like 50 contacts out of my 300 total contacts and didn’t want to edit -> delete each and every one from the IPhone… Can I use ITunes to select those 50 and delete them all?

  30. Its possible to delete all contacts at once, one way is through itunes, incase u dont want to delete contacts from itunes, then i had a program windows contacts which had to contacts saved in it, so i just synced my i phone with windows contacts and it automatically deleted all the previous contacts

  31. You need ContactDel iPhone app:
    ContactDel provides many ways to delete your contacts in batch on iPhone and iPod Touch. Use ContactDel to save time when cleaning up your address book.

    1. Delete All: The easiest way to delete all contacts on your iPhone and iPod Touch, just push the button, the App does the rest.
    2. Delete by Name: list your contacts by names, check-mark in batch and delete in batch.
    3. Restore: you can restore major information of previous deleted contacts at anytime.

  32. EASY!!!! just install the free app mass sms cantacts lite. and you will be able to delete your entire contact list with one click!

  33. Hola, necesito saber si hay alguna posibilidad de eliminar contactos de una apliación de msn live en iphone 3 , gracias!!!!

  34. Thank you thank you for the information….contact delete app was awesome. Over 300 contacts removed in less than 5 minutes.

  35. thank you so much. bough contactDel app. in seconds had reduced 3000 contacts with no phone numbers (just emails had unwittingly synced from yahoo) now going through deleting by name on mass..super easy

  36. You can do this in icloud – goto sign in and goto contacts – you can then scroll through and delete one by one but quickly as it is just press delete and then return to confirm (rather than 3 or 4 clicks on the phone). You obviously need to back up your contacts to icloud first though……

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