Don't like how iOS 7 only shows first names in the Messages and Mail apps? Here's how to fix it!

If you've upgraded your iPhone or iPad to iOS 7, you've probably already noticed that the Messages and Mail apps both default to only showing the first name of a contact in a conversation thread. For those of us that have more than one John in our contacts, it can get pretty confusing. Fortunately, there's a way to turn last names back on by default.

Here's how:

  1. Launch the Settings app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad running iOS 7.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Under the Contacts section, tap on Short Name.
  4. Turn the Short Name option to Off.

That's all there is to it. Your Messages and Mail apps should now show last names again if you've got them listed as such in your contacts. Any other native apps that use name shortening will also stop doing so.

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • Yaaaay. Thank you!! Was wondering what was up with that! I don't understand how they would change that, but yet, in the camera app when you slide up (it's a pain to slide up on iPhone 4 with iOS 7--have to do it 3 or 4 times to slide up urrg) when I take a picture and phone is locked, they should give the option to send to someone at the bottom left, and THEN ask for password, but instead no...have to press home button and then enter password and then go back into friggin pictures app. So many steps. I don't understand how they overlooked that part when making ios 7 better? Is it that much difficult to add that option? I love taking pictures, especially random or cool sightings that happen then and wow, and I know I am so off topic, but why can't they just add send picture option when phone is locked but camera is useable? Makes no sense to meeee. Is there a place we can write to Apple and they hear our wants? (ha!).
  • The problem is that the more things Apple let you do from the lock screen without authenticating the more likely it is bugs will be found that allow hackers complete or almost complete access to the phone. There's already been a couple of such hacks uncovered, there are almost certainly more to come. The more pathways through the lock screen without authenticating the harder it is to keep the phone secure. Allowing you to take a quick photo or two without authenticating was deemed an acceptable risk given the functionality benefit, but to then allow an unauthenticated user to do further things like send photos via email, Twitter or whatever just exposes users to more security risks than they think is necessary. Giving users functionality without compromising security too much is a difficult balancing act, at some point someone has to say enough is enough and that's too much. Now if Apple could come up with some fast, smooth and slick way for users to authenticate themselves to their phones without the hassle of entering a unlock code or password that'd really be something wouldn't it? Security and quick access to the phones full functionality!
  • thanks!!!
  • Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!
  • Thank you!
  • While I don't mind the fact that it only shows first names, I can see how it would be an issue. It could create confusion if I'm texting Jeff #1 and when I mean to text Jeff #2.
  • Brilliant! Thank you! :D Sent from the iMore App
  • Mine has shown the first initial and last name since I've been on iOS7.
  • My main problem is when my contacts have multiple phones. How can I get it to say the phone number or Joe work cell, joe personal cell for example.
  • Go to edit the contact - tap on the label in front of the number... you can change it to one of the pre-defined ones, or make up your own custom label.
  • I see you have the bold font going on. I tried it earlier today (can you believe I didn't do it earlier because I didn't want to wait through a restart of my iPad? LAZY!) and it looks pretty cool. Great tip about the names. Changes it instantly.
  • Perfect, thanks! Sent from the iMore App
  • Cool little trick and thank you Ally, You have no idea how many Ally Kazmuchas I have in my contacts, You saved me.... LOL just kidding with you, You know how I feel about the How Tos you write and nobody does them better.
  • Thanks! That was annoying. I can't be the only person that knows more than on "Chris".
  • Nice find Allyson, thank you!
  • This issue is having "< Messages [name] Contact" on the same line. When you display first and last name it just become a mess of words, the space between words will be too small. The design is flawed, and they defaulted IOS7 to firstname only. Design needs to be improved.
  • Thanks was wondering how to change this. Super helpful.
  • Wow, EXTRA THANK YOU, Allyson!
  • Why does the Short Name screen for the iPhone have extra options compared to the same screen for the iPad? As shown in your screenshots (and I subsequently verified on my iPhone and iPad using iOS 7) on the iPhone the Short Name page also allows you to set other options like "First Name & Last Initial", "First Initial & Last Name", etc. but these are missing from the iPad version. That makes no sense surely?
  • Another fix is to give the contact a nickname in the Contacts app. iOS7 will use the nickname in the place of the first name. That way you can keep using the short name feature and still preserve the proper name of the contact in wherever else it appears. Best of both worlds.
  • Thank you!! So awesome. Really liked that you employed visuals in the help in changing how names are displayed preferences.
  • Thanks for this help. Even as an experienced iPhone user, I was stumped by only the first name showing, and I sent a message to a former co-worker instead of my friend. It could've been embarrassing, but luckily wasn't.