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Your iPhone’s Contacts App Is More Powerful Than You Realize. Here Are 5 Ways to Get the Most Out of It

4 minute read

You’re not the only one who silently laments spending time searching through the Contacts app on your iPhone or other iOS device, hunting for that one person you barely remember yet need to get in touch with for whatever reason. It only gets worse when you realize their information is either incorrect, outdated, or not where you thought you saved it.

Whether you’re looking for a co-worker, a client, an acquaintance, or a long-lost friend you bumped into at a party, it’s helpful to keep who’s who in order in your Contacts app. And you just might find that the Contacts app is far more powerful when you take the time to get the most out of it. Here’s how.

Add more contact info

Filling out contact information beyond a person’s name, email, and phone number might seem like overkill, but doing so can make Siri a more powerful tool when it comes to connecting with people. By entering people’s addresses, nicknames, phone numbers, and what kind of relationship you have with them, you can ask Siri to do things like “call my brother” or “tell my teddy bear I’m running late.”

Adding contacts’ address info also makes it easier to see how long it’ll take to get to your friends house by asking Siri instead of searching in your Maps app, or worse, asking your friend to remind you for the millionth time.

Organize your contacts into groups

Got a book club group you’ve got to text? Can’t remember all of their names? That’s where grouping contacts comes in. iPhone users can manage their grouped contacts either in iCloud or via the Contacts app on the Mac using the Groups feature, which syncs across your devices. Groups are perfect for sending messages to multiple co-workers, family members, or your weekly Fortnite squad all at once, without worry of accidental exclusion.

Select a default contacts list

Whether you depend on Apple, Google, or your work’s email server to store your contacts, make sure they’re all in the same place. For that, picking a default contacts list is a lifesaver, and will help you mitigate problems like duplicate names, outdated entries, and general location disorder in your Contacts app.

In your iPhone’s Settings app, hit the Contacts section, then select Default Account. If you’ve got multiple accounts added to your iPhone, selecting a default will send every future contact you add to the account of your choice. You can also exclude the contacts section of the accounts stored on your iPhone by selecting each account and unchecking the Contacts icon.

Make yourself a contacts card worth sharing

While you most certainly have a contact entry for yourself in your digital address book, chances are it has sensitive info you’d rather not hand off to someone you just met. Information like contacts, relationship connections, and addresses are usually private, so don’t fret if you’re hesitant about giving it away. Instead, make a contact card to share with new acquaintances specifically designed for winning friends and influencing people.

In your Contacts app, make a new entry filled with fewer, and more public-friendly, details — you may only want to share your work number or your personal number, for instance, and you may or may not want to share your social media handles. If you really want to make an impression, write a description of your first meeting in your contact’s notes area before you send it, ensuring neither of you forget your beginnings. And don’t forget to add a photo. To share your contact card or that of a friend, find it in your iPhone’s Contacts app, scroll to the bottom, and select Share Contact. You can AirDrop your contact card, too.

Use your Mac’s Contacts app to get organized instead

The Contacts app in macOS offers another route when it comes to sharing your contact info without divulging sensitive content. In the Contacts app, visit Preferences, and select vCard. There you can enable a “private me card,” which lets you pick and choose which bits of information you want to share and what you want to hide. While it’s a great solution to fixing the issue on a Mac, enabling a private me card will not hide your sensitive contact info if shared via your iPhone or other iOS device.

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Write to Patrick Lucas Austin at patrick.austin@time.com