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How to recover deleted contacts on iPhone with or without backup

Losing or accidentally deleting iPhone contact is a scary experience. This article is here to tell how to retrieve contacts that were deleted, lost, missing, or disappeared from iPhone.

Elena Spencer Updated on Aug 3, 2023 8:22 PM

Your phone numbers and other important information stay quietly within Contacts app which you take for granted until when entire contact list get lost from iPhone someday.

It's not a good feeling when you realize your iPhone contacts missing or deleted, especially you're not able to retrieve the contacts from somewhere like Recently Deleted folder. Fortunately, there are a couple of things you can try to recover deleted contacts on iPhone.

The recovery solutions could be something as simple as needing to restore contacts from iCloud & iCloud backup, iTunes/ Finder backup, or Gmail account you synced your contacts with, or could be something needing a 3rd-party tool like iPhone Data Recovery that promises to not only recover contacts from iPhone memory without backup but get contacts from iPhone backup without deleting any data since the time of the restored backup.

Whether you have iPhone backup or not, there's still chance of getting contacts retrieved.

Let's dive in each way of how to recover deleted contacts from iPhone.

Restore contacts on iPhone from iCloud.com

As "iPhone contacts disappeared or deleted" is frequently the case, this is the first way you should go with to restore the contacts. If you've recently backed up your contacts to iCloud before they are missing, try restoring an earlier version of the contacts from icloud.com. To check if you have an iCloud backup of your deleted contacts or not, you can go to Settings > iCloud > iCloud Backup and see the date and time of the last successful backup.

If you're lucky, follow these steps to retrieve the deleted contacts to your iPhone by restoring iCloud Contacts:

  • Use a computer and log into icloud.com with your Apple ID and password.
  • Click Options menu icon at the top right corner of iCloud website and choose Data Recovery. You can also find the Data Recovery option at the bottom of the window.
  • Click on Restore Contacts tab. You could see the date and time of iCloud contacts backup was archived.
  • Select the archive made before you deleted contacts, and click Restore next to it.
  • When asked if you're sure you want to restore the contacts from iCloud to iPhone, click Restore again to confirm.

Wait until iCloud finishes restoring contacts backup, and your accidentally deleted contacts should get back to iPhone's Contacts app. You will receive an email from iCloud notifying the successful contact recovery.

Please note that this process will erase existing contacts on the iPhone. But don't need to worry, your current contacts will be archived automatically firstly before it does the contacts restore from iCloud. If you change your mind, you can restore iPhone and go back to the previous state.

Restore iPhone contacts from iCloud without computer

iCloud, in addition, offers two feasible methods to recover iPhone contacts when accidentally deleted or gone, even you don't have a computer.

Option 1: Restore contacts from iCloud on iPhone

Apple's iCloud offers the built-in Contacts sync option on iPhone to access your contacts across your devices such as iPhone, iPad, Mac and PC's, and if it's enabled to sync contacts with iCloud from the time before they're missing, then restoring contacts from iCloud is a simpler task.

By going to iCloud and turn Contacts off and on again to re-sync or merge iCloud contacts with the iPhone, you might get back contacts to your device. Here's how to do.

  • In iPhone's Settings app, tap [your name] > iCloud.
  • Tap Show All in the section of APPS USING ICLOUD.
  • Turn Contacts off and select Keep on My iPhone when prompted.
  • Turn Contacts back on again and select Merge. Wait for a while.

restore contacts from iCloud on iPhone

Option 2: Restore missing contacts from an iCloud backup

Of course, you have the option to restore the iPhone from iCloud backup to recover deleted contacts, without a computer required. So, if you have a habit of performing iCloud backups for your iPhone, you're able to retrieve your lost or deleted contacts from iCloud by erasing all data and settings, and then restoring the most recent iCloud backup.

This is a total restore process, meaning that when you restore the iCloud backup, you will lose the data that is added to iPhone since after you take an iCloud backup.

Step 1: Erase iPhone

  • On iPhone, go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone.
  • Choose Erase All Content and Settings.
  • Tap Continue and enter your lock screen passcode to erase your iPhone.

Step 2: Restore deleted iPhone contacts from a recent iCloud backup

When the iPhone has been erased, set it up and get contacts back on your device from iCloud.

    • When iPhone restarts, go through the setup process.
  • On the Apps & Data screen, tap Restore from iCloud Backup.
  • Log in with your Apple ID and password to access your iCloud backups.
  • Choose the iCloud backup prior to the deletion of contacts and the restoration begins.

Let your iPhone restores the backup from iCloud. If don't want any existing iPhone data erased and replaced by backup files, you may go back and try Option 1 above.

restoring contacts from iCloud

Can't restore contacts from icloud.com, or you don't have an iCloud backup to recover deleted contacts to iPhone? Try the next solution.

Recover iPhone deleted contacts without backup

This is a solid way for retrieving deleted phone numbers on iPhone, without a backup. For those who haven't back up their iPhone for quite a while or failed to sync with iCloud, or you don't want your most recent data lost while restoring your iPhone from iCloud, it still might be possible to recover contacts from iPhone storage through specialist software.

That's where iPhone Data Recovery comes in. It's one of the most popular file recovery software applications given its high recovery rate and user-friendly design, and even you don't have an available backup to restore, it recovers contacts, photos, messages, notes, call logs, calendar, reminder, bookmarks, voice memos, WhatsApp, documents and more.

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for Windows | for MacOS

Here's how to recover deleted contacts on iPhone without backups.

    • Launch this iPhone contacts recovery software on your PC or Mac, select the "Recover from iOS Device" mode on the interface.
  • Connect your iPhone to the machine with a USB cable.
  • Once connected, click Start Scan button to let the tool search for lost or deleted contacts from iPhone internal memory, as well as other files.
  • When the scan is done, click Contacts category on the left column to preview the found iPhone contacts, including contact name, phone number, company and email.
  • Next, select the deleted contacts you want to get back to iPhone
  • Click the Recover to Device button.
  • Alternatively, you can also hit the Recover button to recovered contacts on your computer. The program will start retrieving deleted iPhone contacts from the device memory and save them in a HTML, CSV, or VCF file. When you need to transfer the contacts to your iPhone's address book, you could use Import vCard function in icloud.com., or use Sync Contacts via iTunes.

A video tutorial for recovering deleted contacts on iPhone without backup:

Bonus- What if your iPhone is locked and how do you get your contacts?

Retrieve contacts via Gmail (or Yahoo, Exchange or Outlook)

This might not always work, but you can have a try. Chances are the contacts you deleted were also saved in Gmail or other account like Yahoo, Exchange or Outlook. For purpose of getting contacts back on your iPhone, all you need is to sync your contacts in Settings app. It's an easy process and doesn't require a computer.

Here's how you can retrieve the deleted contacts from Gmail Contacts. This also works if you lost your contacts after deleting email account.

Open Settings app, tap Mail, tap Accounts, then tap on your Gmail (or other mail account) you used to save your contacts and now want to add to your iPhone, and turn on the slider next to Contacts to sync Gmail contacts with your iPhone. If it's Contacts is already enabled, turn it off and on.

When done, go to Contacts app or Phone app and you should see the saved Gmail contacts staying in the list.

Restore contacts from iTunes & Finder backup

If you use the Backup feature to backup iPhone in iTunes & Finder whenever it's connected to your PC or Mac computer, this method to restore iPhone contacts from backup should take no time at all - though you will lose your data that is recently added to iPhone but is not backed up.

If you're sure to restore iPhone from iTunes backup or Mac backup to retrieve deleted contacts, and replace all current content with that in the backup, do the following.

Restore contacts from Mac backup via Finder

1. Open Finder in Mac with macOS Catalina 10.15 or above.

2. Plug your iPhone to the machine with a USB cable.

3. Click [your iPhone] under Locations on the left side bar.

4. Under General tab, choose Restore Backup.

5. Select a backup and click Restore.

Your iPhone will be reverted to the stage when the backup was created, and all backup data including the contacts should be back.

Retrieve contacts from iTunes backup

How do I retrieve contacts without iPhone

First, connect the iPhone to your computer and launch iTunes. Then, click the device icon when it appears at the top left corner to access Summary page. Click Restore Backup. When a dialog box pops up, choose the latest backup from the list available, and finally, Hit Restore to restore the backup to recover contacts to your iPhone.

Related article: transferring iPhone contacts to Android phone

Restore contacts from iPhone backup without restoring

In case you don't want to restore the whole backup and lose your files, try using iPhone Data Recovery program mentioned above. In addition to recovering contacts you've deleted or lost without backup, the software integrates options to extract contacts from iTunes/ Finder backup of your iPhone without restoring the backup. This lets you access your backup and choose what you want to restore, and even prevents any existing iPhone data from being potentially overwritten.

1. After you run the software, choose "Recover from iTunes Backup File" mode. You can see your backup with the device name and backup date.

2. Choose a backup to restore and click Start button. The tool is scanning what's in the computer backup.

3. When completed, click "Contacts" folder on the left pane to preview contacts in iTunes backup.

4. Highlight the contacts you wish to retrieve.

5. Click Restore to Device button to get the contacts without restoring entire iTunes backup and overwrite your iPhone.

Useful Tips for contacts restore on iPhone

How to find deleted contacts on iPhone?

Unlike Photos, Notes, Messages, Contacts app hasn't been added a Recently Deleted folder letting you see the contacts you deleted from the iPhone. The only way to view the deleted contacts is to restore from icloud.com, iCloud backup, iTunes/ Finder backup, Gmail account, or use the third-party AppGeeker iPhone Data Recovery tool.

How to restore contacts that were deleted from iCloud?

You could restore your missing contacts from an earlier version. A word of warning: This will replace the contacts on all your devices.

To restore contacts from iCloud, go to icloud.com and sign into your iCloud account. Then scroll down and select Data Recovery. Click on Restore Contact, select an archive of contacts before the date your contacts are disappeared, and hit Restore.

How to recover accidentally deleted phone numbers on iPhone without backup?

If you do not own iTunes backup or iCloud backup of contacts before deletion, consider trying AppGeeker iPhone Data Recovery software. It finds and recovers the deleted contacts from iPhone's database without using backup, restoring from backup. Any iPhone data won't be affected during recovery.

Contacts icon missing from the iPhone home screen?

Try a Spotlight search. If it locates the icon, then it will show you the name of the folder it is in. You then can restore the Contacts app by going to that folder (i.e. Utilities folder) and dragging it back to home screen. If you like, you can also do Settings > General > Reset > Reset Home Screen Layout.

If you get nothing from Spotlight, the Contacts app should be deleted from iPhone by mistake. You can restore it with a few clicks:

  • Go to the App Store.
  • Search for Contacts app.
  • Tap to restore the app.

Read More: Contacts icon missing from iPhone? Here's how to get it back

The Bottom Line

So hopefully now you have a clue about the issue and finally get your iPhone contacts recovered. There might be several other methods of restore contacts, this guide only highlights a couple of those methods. For future reference, I really would suggest keeping good backups of your important files on the iPhone. You'll be thankful you have it if anything goes wrong.

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