How to Restore iPhone Contacts

by Marissa Robert

Apple iPhone maintains a contact list which syncs with iTunes every time you plug it into your computer. An incomplete or unsuccessful sync, a hard reset or the purchase of a new iPhone may require you to restore your contacts. You have a few options for restoring your contacts, including the Address Book or Outlook, an iTunes backup or an older phone with a compatible SIM card. The option that works best for you depends on why you are restoring your contact list.

Restore Your Contacts from Address Book or Outlook

Plug your iPhone into your computer using the USB cord. Launch iTunes, if it does not start automatically.

Click your iPhone from the list in the Devices column of the iTunes window. Click the "Contacts" tab from the main page.

Check the box labeled "Synchronize Address Book Contacts" and click the circle labeled "All Contacts." If you are on a Windows machine, select "Sync Contacts With" and choose Outlook from the drop-down list. Click the OK button and allow iTunes to restore your contacts to your iPhone from your computer's contact manager.

Restore Your Contacts Using an iTunes Backup

Plug your iPhone into either your Mac or Windows computer with your USB cord. Launch iTunes if it does not start automatically.

Right-click your iPhone under the Devices list and click "Restore from Backup." On a Mac, press CTRL, select the iPhone and then click "Restore from Backup."

Allow iTunes to restore your contacts based on the backup data. Because this option also syncs messages, photos and notes, it is a good option only if the backup is recent.

Restore Contacts from a Matching SIM Card

Power down your iPhone. Insert a SIM tool or paper clip into the hole in the SIM tray on your iPhone to eject the tray. Pull the tray out and remove your SIM card. Place your SIM card from your old phone into the tray and insert it back into your iPhone. Press the power button and allow your iPhone to boot. For more information about your model iPhone's SIM card, see the Apple Support link under Resources.

Plug your iPhone into your computer using the USB cord and wait until it connects to iTunes. Click "Continue" to allow it to reformat and reactivate it.

Tap the "Settings" icon on your iPhone. Tap "Mail, Contacts, Calendars" and tap "Import SIM Contacts." Your iPhone will import the contacts from your SIM card.

Power down your iPhone and remove the SIM card with the tool. Replace it with your original SIM card.


  • You can also back up and restore your contacts from a backup on iCloud. (See Resources.)

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