Managing multiple iCloud accounts for Contacts


Q: I have a few questions about your article on Sharing iTunes & iCloud Accounts in a Family from April 5, 2012.

Managing multiple iCloud accounts for Contacts

When using two iCloud accounts on a device, is it possible to select which iCloud account is used to store new contacts that I create? Also, how do I go about moving or copying contacts from a main iCloud account to a shared iCloud account and vice-versa?  Is there a way to recognize on my iPad/iPhone which iCloud account is being used to store a given contact? Many thanks for your answer.

– Daniele

A: When you have more than one account configured for Mail, Contacts or Calendars, an additional option will appear in the iOS Settings app for the appropriate category allowing you to select the default account where new items should be created. This can be found in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings.

For Contacts, this default setting will apply when creating a new contact from another application—such as from a recent calls entry in the Phone app—or when viewing more than one account in your contacts list. A Groups button will appear in the top-left corner of the Contacts app (or the Contacts section in the Phone app) when multiple accounts are configured for contacts; this screen can be used to select which accounts and/or groups you want contacts to be displayed for.


Managing multiple iCloud accounts for Contacts

If more than one contact account is selected here, any new contacts you create will be placed in the default account, as specified in your Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings above. To create a new contact in a specific account, simply ensure that only that account is selected before creating the new contact.

If the same contact exists in more than one account, the Contacts app will display a “unified” contact card, merging the information from both accounts into a single view. A Linked Contacts section will be displayed at the bottom of the contact screen with a list of the accounts from which the contact information is gathered and links to view the individual contact records in each account. Note, however, that the account type is displayed here for each account (e.g. iCloud, Exchange), rather than description defined in the account’s settings.


Managing multiple iCloud accounts for Contacts

Unfortunately, there is no other indication provided on the contact screen as to which account you are viewing a given contact from, although the filtering options described above can be used to display a list of contacts from only a single account.

The iOS interface also does not provide any method for moving contacts between iCloud accounts. If you’re a Mac user, you can do this by using the Address Book or Contacts app in OS X Lion or Mountain Lion—simply drag-and-drop the contacts between the different accounts. Sadly, for Windows users this is not nearly as simple as the iCloud Control Panel for Windows does not allow multiple iCloud accounts to be configured. While it’s considerably more cumbersome, one workaround would be to use a local Microsoft Outlook contact list and sign into each of your iCloud accounts individually to populate them with the appropriate contact information.


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Jesse Hollington

Jesse Hollington was a Senior Editor at iLounge. He's written about Apple technology for nearly a decade and had been covering the industry since the early days of iLounge. In his role at iLounge, he provided daily news coverage, wrote and edited features and reviews, and was responsible for the overall quality of the site's content.