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How to restore contacts from iCloud

Ella Garcia Updated on Apr 15, 2022 4:54 PM

So you accidentally deleted your contacts not realizing they are syncing with iCloud, or your contacts somehow disappeared from the iPhone and you want to restore them from iCloud, but don't know how? You're not alone.

Apple's iCloud helps you back up and sync your contacts, calendars, and bookmarks to its server. When you lost a few contacts or entire contact list, you will probably want to restore the contacts from iCloud. Here are some solutions you can follow to get them back.

Try these options in order to recover iPhone contacts from iCloud. If you're sure that you get nothing from iCloud before finding this post, please move onto Method 3 — you may scan your device memory to searching for recoverable contacts.

1. Turn iCloud Contacts off and on again

First of all, let's try the simplest way. Go checking if you've accidentally turned off the Contacts in iCloud option on your iPhone. By default, the device keeps your contacts synced with iCloud. If this option is closed by mistake, obviously, all of the contacts will miss in iPhone.

If the iCloud Contacts option is already on you can turn it off and on again to let the sync to run. If your missing contacts are still on iCloud server, they should back on your device once the sync completes.

  • Open Settings app on the device.
  • Tap [Your Name], and then tap iCloud. Make sure you have logged with your Apple ID.
  • Move the switch next Contacts option to OFF.
  • When a message pops up, select Keep on My iPhone. (check the image below)
  • Toggle Contacts ON and select Merge.

All your previously synced iCloud contacts should show up on your iPhone soon.

2. Restore contacts from an old version on iCloud.com

If a simple off-and-on sync isn't working, you can take a little more to look up iCloud.com to check if there are old backups you can restore contacts from. Apple understands the importance of your calendars, bookmarks, and contacts, and archives them in iCloud server automatically.

Be careful, when restoring contacts from a previous version in iCloud.com, all new added contacts (names, numbers, email addresses, etc) after the date of the version will be erased on your iPhone.

But the good news is, it will back up all your current contacts, as well as other things like reminders and calendar events first in iCloud as the latest version in case you change your mind.

Here's how to restore contacts from iCloud.com (without doing a factory reset)

  • Sign in to iCloud.com with your Apple ID from any web browser on your computer.
  • Click Account Settings beneath the profile picture.
  • Select Restore Contacts from the Advanced section (see bottom left).

  • You will get a list of available earlier versions of contacts.
  • Check the date / time stamp and select the version before you deleted contacts.
  • Click Restore.
  • Click Restore again to confirm. During the restore process, remember not to add or alter anything on your contacts list on iPhone.

If you don't get the lost contacts back from previous version, you can revert the situation and restore the contacts you were using — Just go through the same steps and select the latest version to apply the restore. 

3. If fails, it's time to use a file recovery program

In rare cases, iCloud.com isn't showing any backups of your contacts at all. What next? You may try using a third-party file recovery program to read your backups made in iCloud or iTunes if you have, or just scan your device storage for hunting recoverable contacts.

iPhone Data Recovery is our favorite. It provides users with flexible options to recover contacts from device memory by deep scanning, or extract from an old iCloud or iTunes. It gives you ability to access the backup and preview all things included in it. You then can selectively recover what you want to get back.

It also supports recovery of other files such as photos, messages, call history, videos, notes.

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for Windows | for MacOS

Should you haven't iCloud Contacts enabled on iPhone at the time your contacts were missing, they may be saved in an iCloud backup. You can navigate to Settings > Your Name > iCloud > iCloud backup to check the last successful backup.

Here we walk you through the steps of recovering lost contacts from iCloud backup. You can also try directly scanning your iPhone to search for your lost contacts — It's pretty simple, as well.

Step 1: Run iPhone Data Recovery on your either Windows or Mac computer. In its main screen, switch to third mode labeled "Recover from iCloud Backup File" from the left side bar.

get contacts back from iCloud

Step 2: Log into your iCloud account with Apple ID and passcode. You will get a verification code from your phone if you enable two-factor authentication. We don't collect any of your privacy information.

Step 3: When logged in, uncheck the "Select all", just select Contacts and iCloud Backup. Then click the Scan button at the bottom.

Step 4: Let the program to scan your backup in iCloud. Finally, it will show all of your backup created previously, as the screenshot show below.

Step 5: To the right of the backup you think it contains your lost contacts, click Download.

Step 6: All of your files saved in the backup will be downloaded and sorted by categories.

Next, click Contacts category on the left side, you will preview the specific contact item on the right pane, including phone number, name, email, company info.

Step 7: Choose the deleted contacts you want to restore by ticking the checkboxes next to name, then click Recover button at the lower right side. It will save your contacts to computer as CSV, HTML, VCF file.

Export iCloud contacts

If you have earlier version of contacts in iCloud before they disappeared, you can also download contacts from iCloud to computer manually as .vcf file that you can then import into your iPhone and merge with current contact list.

First, let's export contacts from iCloud.

  • Sign in icloud.com.
  • Click the Contacts icon on the interface.
  • Select Gear icon at the lower left side.
  • Select "Select All" or press and hold "Shift" and select the contacts you want to export.
  • Press "Export vCard...". Your iCloud contacts will be saved as vCard .vcf file on computer.

Next, send the .vcf file over email to your iPhone from computer, then go to your iPhone's Mail app to open the attachment in email, tap Share > More > Contacts. Choose "Create New Contacts" or "Merge" to add the contacts to iPhone's Contacts app.

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