Recover deleted contacts from iPhone or iPad
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How to export iPhone contacts

Our guide on how to recover iPhone contacts and deleted contacts from your address book, and how to import them 👩‍🏫

This guide will help you do the following things:

  1. Export contacts from your iOS address book in a format that you can easily import elsewhere
  2. Recover lost and deleted contacts, even if you might not have a backup of them.
  3. Import contacts to another iPhone, or to an Android phone, Gmail, or other systems.

If you'd like to skip the introduction, you can click on any of the sections above, and that'll take you straight into the action. We've also compiled the know-how in this guide into a video, below.

About this guide

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Steps: up to 6
  • Time needed: 2 - 10 minutes
  • Video included

You'll need

Recover iOS data from

  • All iOS versions (up to and including iOS 11)
  • All iOS devices (every generation of iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, including the iPhone X)
  • All iCloud and iTunes backup formats (learn more about iOS and iCloud versions)

Exporting contacts from iPhone

The simplest way to retrieve the contacts from your iPhone is to use Apple's built-in backup mechanism to create a secure backup of your data. Then, using the free edition of iPhone Backup Extractor, you can view and export your contacts in a number of formats, individually or in bulk.

We can do this in three steps:

  1. Check for recent backups
  2. Update your backup if necessary
  3. View & export iPhone contacts with iPhone Backup Extractor

1. Check for recent backups

Checking for recent backups in iPhone Backup Extractor
Checking for recent backups in iPhone Backup Extractor

Depending on how your phone is set up, you might either back up automatically to the iCloud, or via iTunes to a PC or Mac. On your iPhone, go into Settings > [your name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup. If you have iCloud backups enabled, that section will tell you when the last backup was completed. Like so:

 Checking for recent backups on your iPhone or iPad
Checking for recent backups on your iPhone or iPad

If you don't have iCloud backups enabled, you can use this screen to enable them, and to take a backup straightaway. However, it is quicker to create a backup on your PC or Mac, and you may already have one. If you install the free version of iPhone Backup Extractor (download), as soon as it runs, it will list all of the backups on your computer, and when they were last taken. Here's what that looks like:

The iPhone Backup Extractor showing available data in the left hand navigation
The iPhone Backup Extractor showing available data in the left hand navigation

2. Update your iTunes or iCloud backup

If you are satisfied that your backup is recent enough, you can skip this section. If not, let's get your backup created or updated. For users of iCloud backups, that's pretty straightforward: again, go into Settings > [your name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup. Hit "Back Up Now". That'll start the process of updating your phone's iCloud backup. It's helpful to be in range of a fast wireless network when doing this, as that'll make the process quicker.

If you aren't using iCloud backups and want to create or update an iTunes backup, the first step is to ensure you have iTunes installed. Apple have a clear guide which explains how to get your backup created.

3. View & export contacts

Now for the really easy part. If you run iPhone Backup Extractor on your PC or Mac, it'll spring up and show you a list of the iTunes backups on your computer. It'll also let you sign in to the iCloud, and if you use iCloud backups, it'll then immediately show any backups created for your device.

A list of iTunes and iCloud backups in the iPhone Backup Extractor
A list of iTunes and iCloud backups in the iPhone Backup Extractor

Click on your backup in the left hand part of the iPhone Backup Extractor window. The main part of the window will then update to show you an overview of the data in your backup. To export all of the contacts from your iPhone, click the "Contacts" icon or the text immediately underneath it. iPhone Backup Extractor will ask you where you'd like to save the exported contacts, and once you have chosen a folder, your contacts will be exported there. 🎉

If you'd like to browse the contacts and selectively export them, there's an easy route to do that, too. Rather than clicking on the contacts icon, instead choose Preview, and then select Contact from the left part of the window. That will let you browse through the contacts available for export, and you can then select them and click "Extract".

Extracting contacts from the iPhone Backup Extractor
Extracting contacts from the iPhone Backup Extractor

Other approaches for exporting contacts

Depending on your setup, you may have other options for exporting some or all of your contacts. These options won't work for all users, and lack the flexibility of the iPhone Backup Extractor, and its ability to recover deleted contacts.

If you have your iOS device configured to synchronise its contacts with iCloud (ie. not just having iCloud enabled and contacts on your device, but have the contacts stored in the iCloud account), you could log in to Apple's icloud.com site and export some of them from there.

Similarly, depending on what you plan to do with the exported scontacts, it may make sense to configure your iPhone to sync with a contacts service which could, for example, also synchronise with other, non-iOS devices. If in doubt, reach out to our support team for guidance.

Recovering deleted contacts

iPhone Backup Extractor can automatically search for and recover deleted contacts on your iOS device. It can do with with a number of proprietary forensic iOS recovery techniques.

In order to recover deleted contacts, you can use the normal process shown above. But ensure that the "Show Deleted Data" option has been ticked in the app's "Utilities" menu.

Importing contacts from iOS to other platforms

iPhone Backup Extractor can export your contacts in a number of different formats, but it defaults to using the vCard / VCF format, as it's the most portable, and easiest to work with. If you'd like to get into details, you can choose to export your contacts into CSV format. We recommend vCard, however.

We have detailed instructions on how to import your contacts to Gmail on our blog, here. Also also have a knowlede-base article "How to import to Android" for a detailed guide on how to import data back to your Android device.

Related resources

You might may the following documents helpful:

Supported iOS versions, backups and devices

iPhone Backup Extractor is fully compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, and any macOS version from 10.7 and above. See below:

Devices Compatible with all iOS devices iPhone 4, 4S, iPhone 5, 5C, iPhone SE, iPhone 6, 6S, 6S Plus, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
iOS It works with all iOSes iOS 11, iOS 10, iOS 9, iOS 8, iOS 7 and lower
Backups Full support for all backups Corrupted backup, iCloud backup, 2FA iCloud backup, Encrypted backup

Data privacy and security With more than 8 years of experience, Reincubate adheres fully to the strictest data privacy laws. Your iCloud credentials are not stored in any way on any third party server or on our servers. The connections are encrypted and secured.

iPhone Backup Extractor is clean of adware, viruses or spyware.
iCloud and iTunes support No viruses Compatible with all iOS devices

Ready to test it with your iPhone?

See what iPhone Backup Extractor can do for you.

30 day money back guarantee Support for iOS 11, iOS 10, iPhone 7 and every iPhone, iPad and iPod.

Why trust us?

Reincubate's CEO at Buckingham Palace

Here’s a photo of our founder Aidan (the tall guy) meeting Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, after Reincubate was awarded the UK’s highest business award for our work since 2008 on developing this technology. We invented the iPhone Backup Extractor, the first tool on the market for iOS data recovery. We’re on a mission to help people make the most of their data in an ethical, transparent way. You can read more about Reincubate, our values, and our position on privacy and data security.

Can we improve this guide and help others recover more of their data, or have we helped you with your recovery? We’ve been doing this for 10 years but there’s always room to improve, and we love hearing how people get on. Why not drop us an email at the address below, or tweet us @reincubate?

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