What's new
Apple iPad Forum 🍎

Welcome to the Apple iPad Forum, your one stop source for all things iPad. Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Updating contacts, what exactly happens


iPF Noob
Sep 7, 2011
Reaction score
When importing contacts into its or a MacBook, what exactly happens when you use the update feature?
Is all the data for the specified contact updated, or is the data merged, with any fields of the new overwriting the old, or ???
If I have a vCard with a contacts phone number and address, and choose to update that contact in my address book, and the one in my address book has a picture, will I loose my picture?
There must be some rules to what exactly happens in an update???
It depends a lot on how you are updating.

When you initially choose to sync a device or computer you generally get two choices: Replace or Merge. If you do the first the source replaces everything. If you do the second it will try to combine any contacts that have the (exact) same name. In the case of data that you can have more than one of, like phone numbers, it will simply include all phone numbers in the new contact. In the case of something with only one entry it 'should' take the data from the contact with the most recent edit/creation date. If it can't figure it out, it should leave both contacts untouched, and you will have a duplicate that you must resolve yourself.

Later, when all you are doing is updating contacts the most recent update will triumph, usually. If it does not for some reason, you will be prompted to resolve the conflict. This is common if you are syncing your contacts via iTunes on the computer. I don't recommend this method since it only updates when you do a sync, which could be days or weeks apart.

The better method is to sync your devices and computer through a service like iCloud, Gmail, or even Yahoo. This results in a central database on the server that everything else references. Updates happen frequently, whenever you open your contacts and are connected to the internet, and because of that almost never result in conflicts.

Finally, if you are setting up more than one account with contact data and syncing, the Contact app (both iPad and MacBook) will actually create separate databases for each account. They may look merged if you've selected to view all contacts, but you can also choose to view only the specific contact database you want. You can also link/unlink contacts between the databases to force contacts with the same or different names to be merged/separate in the view all mode.

Hope that helps a bit.
Hmmm. Neither option may be perfect for my application. If I have 300 contacts, and some have photos, and I get new, updated data for those contacts. Say, for example, some have a different address, or a different phone number. I don't really want to 'merge' the data, or I'll have their old number and their new number. I want to replace the data. But I don't want to lose the photo.
Is their a way to update the contacts by replacing any data, but keeping the photo? This update will be a one time thing, maybe annually, for all my contacts.
Is there any good contact manipulation software for Mac that might help?
Sorry. I don't know of anything that will do what you want.

If you can get the new import in vCard format (from where ever it's exported) you can receive it in Mail, then tap and hold the attachment to get the option to import the addresses. But you would be restricted to the same choices, merge, duplicate, or maybe replace. I don't' know of anything that allows a controlled replacement of only some fields.

Most reactions

Latest posts