How to sync your Address book across computers and iphone


So you have two computers, one at work and one at home, and perhaps an iPhone or iPad as well,  and you want the same contacts to be available to all of them.  The easiest way  to synchronise all your Address Book contacts is to use iCloud. If you make a contact or edit a contact in one of your computers, it is available almost instantly to all your other computers.  If you have an Android phone  read this article instead.

iCloud is a free service available to anyone with an iTunes Apple ID. If you don’t have an Apple ID they are free from Apple and the easiest way to sign up is to open the iTunes app and click on ‘sign-in’ then ‘Create Apple ID’.

Get an Apple ID

After you have and Apple ID, go to System Preferences and click on the iCloud button and enter your Apple ID.

Then turn on  Contacts for iCloud.

Turn on iCloud


That’s it!

Set up all your computers like this, and they will automatically synchronise to each other. If you put a new contact into one computer it will be on the other computer in a matter of minutes.


iOS devices

To set up your iPhone or iPad to synchronise  simply go to Settings  from the home screen, then select  “Mail,Contacts,Calendars”.

Click on  “Add Account” then select the top option – ‘iCloud’

Turn on Contacts and away you go!

You can sync lots of things over iCloud – mail accounts, safari bookmarks, notes, iCal calendars etc.  I normally have them all turned on except that with the iPhone 5 there was a bug with Safari bookmarks so I have that turned off.

How do I stop certain addresses from syncing?

It may be that there are some address that you don’t want to sync from a particular phone. (Eg your wife want’s some of her own contacts on her phone and not on your phone).  There is no way to do this from within iCloud, but there is a way using a different account. If you have addresses entered into a different account, such as hotmail, Gmail etc, they will not sync to your iCloud.

So, if you want to have addresses on your iPhone that don’t sync to other computers, then you need to create those contacts elsewhere (eg Gmail, hotmail) then sync that account to your iPhone. The contacts will sync from the hotmail (or Gmail) account to your iPhone, but they will not sync  across to your other iOS devices.

Because of this, if you have contacts in Gmail that you would like to share across multiple devices, you need to export them out of Gmail and into iCloud for them to sync using iCloud. To do this:

1. Login to Gmail from your mac.

2.  Save all your Gmail contacts as a v-card file.

3.  Go to and log-in to your iCloud account.

4.  Import the v-card file.



If you enable iCloud, then all contacts on your iPhone and computer that are in iCloud will sync automatically across all devices that are logged into that iCloud account.

Hotmail and Gmail contacts will sync from hotmail and Gmail to any iphone that is synced with that hotmail or Gmail account, but not to other devices via iCloud.



10 responses to “How to sync your Address book across computers and iphone”

  1. […] to find the fastest macintosh How to sync your Address book across computers and iphone Nov […]

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  3. JoeB

    Is there a way to create Group Lists on my iPhone or do I have to create them on my desk top computer and then sync them to the iPhone?

  4. Karl Anderson

    I have a contact in my address book on my mac. It does not appear on my I-Phone. I want it to but I can’t figure out how to have the contacts on my computer and the contacts on my phone stay synced. As suggested above my contacts box on the cloud is checked but that name is still not getting to my I-Phone, any more suggestions on what I could try?

  5. Gabi

    I have followed instructions as above and still my address book is not sync ed to cloud or computer

  6. Pam

    I can’t sync my contact book after i did all the steps above. it just dont sync like before.. It keeps delay the sync.. its been few days.. any help on this?

  7. I’ve set up my preferences on both my laptop and IMac but the address book still won’t sync. I upgraded my laptop OS to 10.8.5 especially so I could do this. My iMac has 10.11.5 (El Capitan). I’d appreciate some help please.

  8. tony

    if i add or edit a contact in my imac or my macbook it literally instantly shows up on my ipad. however if i add or edit a contact on my ipad, nothing happens on either of my other devices. how to do i fix this?

    1. roberta velarde


      1. Turn on iCloud and the address will sync automatically. It doesn’t get much easer than that. The syncing is done over the web, so you need to be able to enter a user ID and password otherwise anyone could copy your address book contacts. The user ID etc if for your own security.

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