Sync Contacts to BOTH iCloud and Google

I currently sync the 6K Contacts I have on my iPhone 12 Pro (iOS 15.2) to Google Contacts and it is very reliable. My iMac (macOS 12.1 Monterey) is synced with nothing.

Is there going to be a problem if I also sync my iPhone to iCloud too? Are Contact additions/deletions/changes on my iPhone going to reverberate between these clouds and possibly cause duplications/deadly embrace/corruption problems somewhere? Seems like I’m inviting a disaster.

If syncing my iPhone is going to be okay syncing to both clouds, do I risk any problems also syncing my iMac as well to iCloud (but not Google)?

Thank you for reading.

You won’t be syncing a single (iPhone) contacts list to two sources. Instead, your phone will have two contacts lists - one Google and one iCloud. Data is not automatically moved between the two lists.

In iOS, go to Settings → Contacts → Accounts. Create one for iCloud and one for Google (if they don’t both already exist). Make sure each is configured for Contacts.

When viewing contacts in iOS (e.g. in the Phone app), each will appear as a separate Contacts group (tap Groups in the upper-left corner of the Contacts screen to select which you want to see. I recommend keeping both selected unless you need to only view one.)

Contacts that exist on both lists will be combined when viewing your list of contacts (if you’re configured to show them both), and the details will be a merge of the data on the two lists. When viewing the contact, there will be a “Linked Contacts” section at the bottom of the screen, where you can view and edit data from a single source.

When you create a new contact from iOS, it will be added to the account you select as the default account (on the Settings → Contacts screen).



Thank you for your very complete review of contact syncing on iOS.

I didn’t realize that contacts are kept distinct by sync source. So, my concerns were not warranted. And I don’t see a benefit to syncing to two separate sets on contacts.

I wasn’t very clear in my original post, but I wasn’t really interested in making changes—syncing or otherwise—to my iPhone. All my iPhone apps seem to work just fine with syncing to Google Contacts.

On the other hand, the contacts on my ancient iMac (macOS 12.1 Monterey) are very incomplete and don’t sync with anything. I think that Photos is the only MacOS application I use that might be associated with information in MacOS Contacts. (When I try to mark photos with faces it’s getting information from somewhere.)

I’m thinking of deleting all my macOS Contacts and then syncing macOS Contacts with Google Contacts.

Do you have any warnings about doing so? Do you think I might have to redo all my all the faces in Photos?

Thank you again for your explanation of contact syncing on iOS.

I have contacts synced to multiple Google accounts as well as my iCloud. In general, it’s OK, but I have ended up with multiplying contacts when the information isn’t EXACTLY the same amongst the different accounts.

I posted about my multiplying contacts in the Apple Discussion forums a couple of years ago, and someone told me that keeping consistency between say, Google and iCloud, is difficult because of slight differences in the way that they implement the vCard standard.

You can keep all of the services active, and link them within either the iOS or macOS Contacts app, but it has to be done one at a time, which I expect is a non-starter if you have 6K contacts. I can tell you that the linking command doesn’t always work either. I’ve linked contacts from Google with their counterparts on iCloud only to have them disconnect shortly afterwards.

I think the way to go might be to have only one Contacts account active on any device (a master list). If you add new contacts, it’s easier to export them to the other services than it is to maintain constant consistency across accounts.

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Thank you for sharing your experience with syncing contacts among iOS, macOS, Google, and iCloud.

I was thinking that more backups in the clouds are always better … but at the risk of kludges due to both timing and vCard implementation.

You’ve confirmed my fears. I’ll just keep it as simple as possible: iOS, macOS, and Google.

Or, are you suggesting that it would be more stable to continue to sync only iOS and Google—as I’m doing with few problems—and periodically refresh macOS along the lines of:

  1. Delete all macOS Contacts
  2. Export Google Contacts as a CSV file. (I don’t know a way to export iOS Contacts; the only way I’ve found to get data out of iOS Contacts is to sync with iCloud, which introduces an additional point of infidelity.)
  3. Import to macOS Contacts

By the way, I recovered from one instance of Google sync problems by rolling back to a prior version, which can be up to 30 days; for details see:

Thank you for your input.

This seems like a plausible workaround, although deleting all of the contacts seems pretty heavy-handed. I would make sure that you export all of them before proceeding so you have a workable backup.