Daily Tip: How to link iPhone, iPad contacts for unified info

Daily Tip: How to link iPhone, iPad contacts for unified info

Using both MobileMe and Gmail, or Google Accounts and Exchange, or any mix of multiple accounts on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and curious how to reduce the clutter by linking them into a single, unified entry? It's easy to do, provided the contacts meet a few simple formatting criteria. We'll show you how, after the break!

Let's say you have a colleague who's also a friend. You have his home contact information syncing with MobileMe and his business details syncing in Exchange. It's handy to keep them separate in theory but it's annoying to have them that way on your iPhone or iPad in practice. Here's how you can link the contacts to unify the entry:

  1. Make sure you've set up more than one account on your device
  2. Make sure the accounts are setup to sync contact
  3. Make sure both accounts have the same contact (i.e. if the contact is only in one account, even if it's duplicated in one account, you can't link them -- you have to have the same contact in two or more different accounts)
  4. Make sure the first and last name is identical names. Edit to remove minor variations if you have to (i.e. initial vs. first name).
  5. Select the first of the two contacts
  6. Tap edit
  7. Scroll to the bottom
  8. Tap Link Contact (iPhone) or the silhouette icon (iPad)
  9. Select the second contact
  10. Tap link
  11. That's it, they're linked!

You now have a single, linked contact and Unified Info will be shown on the top bar to remind you when you view it.

If you want to unlink a contact:

  1. Select the unified contact you want to unlink
  2. Tap edit
  3. Scroll to the bottom
  4. Tap the red circle
  5. Tap the read unlink button to confirm
  6. And they're unlinked

Bonus Tip: If you have one account set up on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, and then add another, iOS will automatically link any accounts that have identical names -- so you may already have linked accounts.

If you have any other cool contact tips to share with us, drop them in the comments!

Tips of the day will range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you'd like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to dailytips@tipb.com. (If it's especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we'll even give ya a reward...)

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Georgia

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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Daily Tip: How to link iPhone, iPad contacts for unified info

20 Comments

Android let's you link your Facebook contacts. This is good as you have a central spot for your contacts. But I guess if your one of those with 500 friends it's not a really good idea but then again do you really know off the 500?
A central spot is good as you don't need a bunch of places to manage contacts.

Facebook contacts is the key word here and no it does not. You have to go in to the app and get it. Android you do not.

Facebook contacts are useless. If I wanted to call my high school friends who I haven't talked to in almost 20 years, then it mint be useful. Hardly any of my best friends at even on there.

Why are android users so desperate to sell their phones to everyone?. On Opie&Antony yesterday someone even rang in to tell them "on an android phone you can block contacts" ; are you so desperately insecure in your choice that you have to preach to others ? I've always found that when people try to convince others of their beliefs it's because they're really trying to convince themselves.

I swear. I tried this, and between the Address Book, Gmail, and iPhone, it made me want to shoot myself in the face. 45 minutes later, finally got it working.

i totally hate the android interface implementation for contacts, but i gotta admit that the way they smoothly link contacts its way superior than iOS

i don't understand... i usually make contacts with all their details in a single unified contact such as company name, work address, work number, fax number, mobile number, email address, IM address and everything else...

I'm with you. Don't understand the need for this. Why have contact info for somebody in two different places?

The biggest problem I ran into was the picture sizing. I use outlook, gmail, and FB. The contact pic always got reduced to the small thumbnail at the top of the screen. Is there a fix for that or a workaround? I like the idea but went back to only sync with Outlook due to this

The biggest problem I ran into was the picture sizing. I use outlook, gmail, and FB. The contact pic always got reduced to the small thumbnail at the top of the screen. Is there a fix for that or a workaround? I like the idea but went back to only sync with Outlook due to this

WARNING: If you try and sync contacts through Exchange (at least at our work) it will DELETE your entire existing offline address book. Make sure you back up or some thing first.

I just converted to the iphone from a palm pre. I love iOS, but webOS wins in this aspect. It automatically links all your contacts (gmail, facebook, any other accounts you have). It pulls the facebook pictures and shows it when that person is calling you. Kindof cool. But overall, iOS is superior.

Some of my contacts with the same name linked automatically. I hate this and it took me forever to rectify. If it keeps happening I'm gonna have some real problems. Thanks.

My gmail & HTC contacts are in surname order. How do I make iPad contacts the same as they rearrange my other contacts with the christian name first.

Garylouise asked, "How do I make iPad contacts the same as they rearrange my other contacts with the christian name first"
Go to...
Settings > Mail, Contact, Calendar > scroll down to Contacts. You can specify "Sort Order" ("Last, First" or "First, Last") and "Display Order" ("Last, First" or "First, Last").

I like the idea of linked contacts very much, with iOS6 and the new facebook integration, it totally makes sense to have the facebook contact constantly in sync with the facebook info and linked to the icloud contact that have static info. But some things are missing:
1. As far as I understand, if you link two contacts, the link only exist in the original device. Apple needs to add this to the iCloud sync to make it syncable betwen devices.
2. Someone must develop or improve some duplicate contact app to find similar contacts (when the names are not an exact match) and be able to automatically link them together. Unfortunatly, today, most apps still think you have duplicates even after you have linked both manually, someone knows a better app?