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Setting default account for new Contacts
By Jesse Hollington | 03.22.13

Q: I have an iCloud account and an Exchange account (for work) setup on my iPhone (iOS 6). Whenever I add a new contact on my phone, it always ends up on my work Exchange account. How can you specify which Group (to use iOS speak) the new contact will be added to?

- John

A: If you have more than one account setup for storing Contacts on your iPhone or other iOS device, you can specify which one you want as the default for new contact entries by going into your Settings app, selecting Mail, Contacts, Calendars and scrolling down to the “Contacts” section. An option should appear here for “Default Account” allowing you to choose from among your contacts accounts. Note that this option will only appear if you have more than one account setup for contacts.

This default only applies when creating new contacts outside of the Contacts app, such as from your Recent Calls in the Phone app, or when saving an e-mail address or phone number into a new contact from elsewhere, such as Messages or Mail. If you are creating a new contact manually by tapping the plus button within either the Contacts or Phone apps the contact will only be created in the default account if more than one account is selected from the “Groups” listing.


If you want to create a contact in your non-default account, you must first go to the “Groups” by tapping the button in the top-left corner in the Contacts app and then ensure that the group that you want to create the new contact in is the only group selected. You can then return to the Contacts view, tap the plus button and create the contact as you normally would.

Keep in mind as well that iOS does not presently provide any way to copy or move a contact between different accounts. This would have to be done using a desktop application such as Microsoft Outlook or the OS X Contacts app. iOS will, however, try to automatically link contacts that exist in more than one account to present a unified entry when viewing all of your Contacts accounts together. The individual contact entires can be viewed and accessed from the bottom of the contact entry.


You can also manually link contacts in edit mode by tapping the “Link Contact…” button found at the bottom. This can be useful in situations where the contact may be listed under a slightly different name in each account.





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I have more than one account with contact sync, but I don’t see that option.  any thoughts?

By Greg Scher on 03.26.13 at 11:53 AM

Are Contacts enabled on both accounts and are both accounts appearing in your Contacts app?  Do they both contain actual contacts? Sometimes the option won’t appear if one of the accounts is empty, even if it’s otherwise enabled.

The option also sometimes takes a few seconds to appear after opening the Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings.

By Jesse Hollington on 03.26.13 at 03:48 PM

I don’t have the option in Settings for my multiple contact accounts either! What version of IOS are you referring to inthe help?  I’m on 5.0.1

By Alex on 09.28.13 at 10:35 AM

The new IOS has changed my contacts
It now includes all email addresses I have ever sent a message asincluded in my contact list
It says “new contacts created outside a specific account will be added to this account”
How can I quarantine contacts I add (only I specifically add) as THE master contact list , without including occasional contacts responded to in my job.

By Peter Steane on 12.01.13 at 05:24 PM

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