How to Merge and Remove Duplicate Contacts in macOS and iCloud

If you've been maintaining and migrating the same Contacts list across Macs over the years then you've probably come across your fair share of duplicate contact cards. They can also appear seemingly out of nowhere after setting up iCloud Contacts on your Mac for the first time.

Unless you intentionally keep certain information for the same contact separated out for whatever reason, duplicate cards will add nothing but irritation to your day, so here we're going to show you how to merge and/or remove them, whether you're sat at your Mac or not.

How to Merge and Remove Duplicate Contacts on your Mac


As with any computer procedure that involves deleting data, make sure you have a backup of your system before following these steps.

  1. Launch the Contacts app on your Mac (found in Applications/Contacts).

  2. In the Groups pane on the left, make sure All Contacts is selected at the top of the list. (If the Groups view is hidden, select the menu bar option View -> Show Groups to reveal it.)
  3. From the menu bar, select Card -> Look for Duplicates....

  4. A dropdown dialog will appear telling you how many duplicate cards were found that either have the same name but contain different information, or have both the same name and the same information. To merge the duplicate cards and information, click the Merge button.

How to Remove Duplicate iCloud Contacts on PC and Mac


If you don't have access to your Mac you can remotely delete duplicate entries in your Contacts list in the following way. Oddly, there's no way to select multiple contacts on an iPhone or iPad running iOS 11, so this manual method is the best workaround, although bear in mind it only applies to contacts synced to iCloud.

  1. Launch a web browser on your device or computer.
  2. Navigate to icloud.com.
  3. Sign in using your iCloud credentials.
  4. Click Contacts.

  5. Select All Contacts in the upper left corner of the screen.
  6. Hold down the Command (⌘) key and manually click the duplicate cards you want to delete.

  7. Click the cog icon in the lower left corner and select Delete from the popup menu.
  8. Confirm you want to remove the selected contacts by clicking the Delete option in the dialog pane.


Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra


Top Rated Comments

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21 weeks ago
So is there no way to check the duplicates before you allow them to be merged, or select which ones you want to be merged?
Rating: 6 Votes
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21 weeks ago

The last time I did that, I ended up losing some of my contacts permanently.

File>Export>Contacts Archive
Rating: 5 Votes
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21 weeks ago
This should be automatic. It’s a bug.
Rating: 3 Votes
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21 weeks ago
FullContact ('http://FullContact') is a nice service to get rid of duplicates and get all your address books in sync. I use it daily and don't have any duplicates in my contacts anymore.
Rating: 3 Votes
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21 weeks ago

Using Contacts in MacOS/OSX it is straightforward to use the export feature (File menu) to create an archive of your contacts list. If after a clean up of duplicates some are accidentally deleted then click on the archive contacts file and the option to use this to replace the current contacts is offered allowing you to restore to your 'pre-cleanup' state so you can try again.


OK, but if you've got a few hundred contacts, you're probably not going to notice that one has been borked until you actually come to use it, maybe several months later - or does the 'merge duplicates' function provide a summary of what it's merged when it's finished doing its thing?
Rating: 2 Votes
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21 weeks ago
icloud.com on iOS just works ***cough - cough*** what a professional device...
Rating: 2 Votes
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21 weeks ago
The last time I did that, I ended up losing some of my contacts permanently.
Rating: 2 Votes
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21 weeks ago

This should be automatic. It’s a bug.

"It just works"
Rating: 2 Votes
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21 weeks ago
WARNING! Hey all, be careful with this. Merging duplicates in Mac Contacts used to (and randomly still does) lose data when each record's contact fields had the same label but different data (two "mobile" numbers or "home" emails) it would just merge the records into one record and it wasn't obvious which data (number/email) was saved (unless you tracked before and after record by record).
Rating: 1 Votes
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21 weeks ago

I have a question that hopefully someone can answer...

Let’s say on December 1st I had 100 contacts and had contacts turned on in iCloud as well as a backup from that day.

Then let’s say I turn off my iCloud backup, but still leave contacts turned on.

Fast forward to today, February 1st, I have 200 contacts, but my last iCloud backup was December 1st.

If I get a new iPhone and restore it from an iCloud backup from December 1st, will I have 100 contacts or all 200?

Because even tho I turned off my iCloud backup, I left the contacts tab on so they could constantly sync/save.

Really hope someone can answer this.


Here goes... The short answer is, "all 200," presuming you both restore from iCloud Backup and turn on the Contacts toggle in iCloud settings (which happens by default).

If you have iCloud-synced features enabled (primarily Contacts, Calendars, iCloud Photo Library, documents in iCloud/iCloud Drive, Notes, Reminders), then the synced data is stored separately from your iCloud backups. Apple does not include them in your iCloud backup because it would be redundant - a waste of storage. It also means you don't need to make iCloud backups at all in order to preserve Contacts data in the cloud (so long as you have Contacts toggled-on in iCloud Settings).

Now, if you have "On My iPhone" contacts, notes, etc. in addition to iCloud contacts, notes, etc., then the On My iPhone data will be part of your iCloud backup. This is true of your Camera Roll, too (if you have one). It's one of the reasons Camera Roll disappears when you use iCloud Photo Library.

These articles have additional info on what iCloud backup does and doesn't include: https://support.apple.com/HT207428 https://support.apple.com/HT204136
Rating: 1 Votes
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