How to Back Up & Clean Up Your Contact List

I was working with a client the other day who wanted to know how to clean up his contact list. That is, he wants to get rid of duplicates and file away old contacts he rarely uses but still wants to save somewhere. Before showing him at our next session together, I decided to test a procedure to clean up my own address book (contact list). I did this on my Mac and wrote down the steps to follow.

Please note: I have all my Apple devices set to use the contact list on iCloud. That means there is one contact file on iCloud and all my Apple devices get contacts from that file. This keeps my Contacts in sync on my Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Before you begin editing, please make a backup of all your contacts. If anything goes wrong, you can restore this saved file.
On your Mac – Contacts Program > File > Export > Contacts Archive
From – Contacts > Edit > Select All > Gear Icon (lower left) > Export vCard

How to clean up your contact list on your Mac

  1. Eliminate duplicates
    Contacts on the Mac has “Look for Duplicates” under Card in the menu
    Merge duplicates
    Check the merged information
    Delete contacts you no longer want or need
  2. Create an archive of old contacts you want to file away
    Create a group for the archive (call it Archive or something meaningful)
    Select the contacts to archive
    Drag these contacts into the archive group
    Select the group
    Choose File > Export > Export vCard
    Save the file
  3. Delete the archived contacts from your list (refer to your archive)

This may take some time. I did mine in two sessions. A to L and then M to Z.
Helpful Link
How to Export Contacts from the Mac

Want to Learn Much More about using your iPad, iPhone or Mac?

About Andy Brovey

Dr. Andy Brovey, The Portable Prof, teaches about digital tools through his work, websites and social media. In 2007, Apple Inc. recognized his work and named him an Apple Distinguished Educator. He started this iPad Academy website shortly after the first iPad went on sale. On his Freelance Teaching site you'll find the resources you need to teach like a smart entrepreneur.