Perhaps it's outdated information for a former work colleague or an old flame. Maybe it's the phone number and email for a PR person that you added years ago. Regardless, the Contacts app on your iPhone is likely filled with information on people that's out of date or is no longer necessary to keep. In these cases, the ideal solution would be to delete these rogue listings in bulk. Unfortunately, Apple doesn't make it possible to remove multiple contacts at once in an efficient manner.
However, there are two solutions worth considering when it comes to deleting multiple contacts. One of these requires using iCloud on your Mac or PC; the other is a third-party app.
Assuming you're using iCloud, your contacts are stored and backed up in the cloud for use across all your Apple devices, including iOS and macOS machines. Thanks to iCloud, changes made to contact information are pushed out to all of your devices automatically. For example, when you change the email for someone in your Contacts app on your iPhone, the change is also reflected on your MacBook Pro or another device.
Unlike on the Contacts app on iPhone, you can select multiple contacts to delete using the web version of iCloud on your Mac. To get started:
- Visit iCloud.com on a computer (not from a mobile device) and log in using your Apple ID and password.
On the main page, select Contacts.
- Highlight the contacts you'd like to delete by holding the Control key on your Mac.
- Scroll down and select other contacts to delete.
- Click on the Settings icon at the bottom left of the screen.
- Select Delete.
In the box, confirm your choice by choosing Delete.
The contacts you selected are now deleted across all of your devices. Yes, we understand this process isn't a simple one, which is why a better solution is to go with a third-party iOS app.
To delete contacts in bulk on your iPhone, one third-party app stands out: Groups. The freemium app provides advanced features through in-app purchases. The ability to delete contacts is a free tool, however.
To delete contacts with the Groups app:
- Download the Groups app on your iPhone.
- Launch the Groups app on your iPhone.
- Grant Groups access to your contacts when prompted.
- Select All Contacts from the Groups list.
- Go through your contacts and mark the ones you'd like to delete by tapping on the circle outline to the left of their name.
Tap Choose Action at the top.
Tap on Delete contacts... in the popup menu.
Tap on Remove from my iPhone! in order to confirm.
That's it! You can now go into the built-in Contacts app on your iPhone and verify that the selected contacts have been deleted. These contacts are also no longer listed on your other devices, including iPad and Mac. While Groups isn't the most attractive app available, it gets the job done quickly and efficiently. Give it a try!
Let us know if you have any questions about deleting contacts in bulk in iCloud or through the Groups app.
January 2020: Confirmed settings for iOS 13, macOS Catalina.
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