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No, it’s not a rant by a famous tennis player…

It’s me after finding out the issue that has been plaguing my iPhone.
For weeks now, I’ve been ferreting out this problem.
It started as a curiosity because things didn’t seem to be working quite right.
I’d take a look here or there, but up until now didn’t take more than a cursory observation of what was going on.

The Problem:
It seems that Contact entries that I create directly on my iPhone, wouldn’t show up in my Contacts app. If I do a Spotlight search for them, they show. But not from Contacts. Some of these disappearing Contacts are set as Favorites and display fine on that list. Go figure.

I really paid attention to this when Messages on my iPad would just display phone numbers and the same iMessage on my iPhone displayed the name of the Contact. The Contact information was not syncing over.

I may have been one of the few who never had a day of trouble with MobileMe, but iCloud has always been a little testy. I’ve had a similar issue before, and was able to solve it. Now, not so. And, it seems that I’m not the only person having or to have had this Contacts issue.

When I add Contacts directly into my iPhone, where are they supposed to go? If I can’t find them after I create them, where are they? It seems, I’ve found, that they are going to a corrupt database linked to the old MobileMe account. Seriously?

Read here for the summation of an Apple discussion that is my pain.
https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3676941

I went to the Apple Store. Surely they had a solution for this. The Genius I got at the Genius Table suggested for me to nuke my phone and start over with my contacts. Completely over. For me to be OK with losing 107 Contacts, over. Seriously?

I’m a little more inquisitive than agreeable to this notion. What if the problem resided in the backup? Losing those Contacts, because I had no idea which ones they were, but estimated about 107 in total, was not acceptable to me. I figured that there had to be a better way.

I subsequently spent a few hours investigating online and going through the Contacts, deleting “Unified” or “Unknown” Contacts only to find the problem still persistent. Finally, I found the above link, at least now I knew I wasn’t alone.

What I was able to do was to get all the Contacts to sync to both locations. The MobileMe database hiding in my iPhone, sync’d with the iCloud database.

How, is nothing short of a little miracle. This solution took a few days to achieve, so following is my path of progress and what appears to be a total successful solution for me.

After turning Contacts on/off in too many locations without success, I decided to isolate the issue to just my iPhone, where the missing 107 Contacts resided.

  • I turned off iCloud Contacts syncing in the computer System Preferences and on all devices (including iPhone).
  • Kept the Contacts on my iPhone, only.
  • Deleted the Contacts from all locations (except iPhone), including iCloud.com.
  • Deleted the iCloud account from my Address Book on my Mac.

 

I first worked with iPhone Contacts, iTunes, and Address Book On My Mac account (no Contacts in it). No joy, the Contacts still would only appear on the iPhone.

While working this problem out, I subsequently downloaded four apps by Win de Nood.
I didn’t know what I needed, but as I worked through this, these apps sounded like they could help. By now, my third day on this issue, I was just trying to find anything that could help.
The apps were:

  • Cleanup: remove multiple contacts fast 99¢
  • Cleanup Duplicate Contacts 99¢
  • Mail Many (Free)
  • Contact Mover Pro $1.99

First with Cleanup: remove multiple contacts fast, I painstakingly sorted through 1200+ contacts. Luckily, this app made a backup of the Contacts after it was done, because my then sync with iTunes deleted all my Contacts from my iPhone.
Yes, Seriously.

I restored the Contacts (chorus of angels singing) from the Cleanup: remove multiple contacts fast backup and then downloaded and used Cleanup Duplicate Contacts to see if my tired eyes had missed anything. They had. More cleaning and more backup.

I tried to follow the steps in the link above of a solution that worked for another iPhone user, of creating an Exchange account, but couldn’t get his solution to work for me. So, I deleted the Exchange account.

But, what I did read in the Apple discussion thread, was that the app Mail Many was allowing the other iPhone user to see certain information regarding the MobileMe database. So I then downloaded that app, too. And while looking through that app, was intrigued by features presented in a popup window for Contact Mover Pro. So, I purchased it, as well.

At first launch, I saw a warning message that I couldn’t use the Contact Mover app because I only had one account on my device, but I pressed the buttons anyway, thinking that if i have to create the Exchange account again, I will. Surprised, Contact Mover Pro then displayed the info in the below screenshot. The Contacts that were on my iPhone (local) and the Contacts that were lost in purgatory MobileMe.

<1599>

Hoping this would work, I sync’d/merged the two, what did I have to lose?
Contact Mover Pro merged all Contacts into both locations. Al-right-ee-then. positive progress.
At least now ALL of the Contacts were combined SOMEWHERE.

<1600>

I then turned on iCloud Contacts on my iPhone and went back to Contact Mover Pro. From Contact Mover Pro, now selected the MobileMe database to sync with the iCloud database. More positive progress. It’s great that these app create a backup before and after they work with Contacts.

<1601>

Now, turning on iCloud and iCloud Contacts on all devices resulted in seeing all 1,101 Contact entries on all devices. Specifically, the once hidden MobileMe entries.

While this made me happier, I’m sure that this didn’t resolve the problem of what happens to the Contact entries created directly on my iPhone in the first place.

Checking the Contacts on all devices, I was once again surprised by the iPhone indicating “Linked Contacts”— an “iCloud” and a duplicate “Unknown” entry at the bottom of each and every Contact. Seriously? It was obvious that the “Unknown” entries were the MobileMe entries still on the iPhone.

I went back to Contact Mover Pro. This time selecting the settings that allowed me to move the MobileMe Contacts over to the iPhone iCloud Contacts and completely merge them. This was successful also. No more “Linked Contacts”, only single entries, and all the Contacts were still showing up on a Contacts and Spotlight search.

I created an email from the Mail Many app (select the “i” icon) to see what the default Contact location was set at. Still MobileMe, indicated by the “ID: 2” in the image below.

<Default Contacts DB>

I went back to the Apple discussion thread and decided to add the Exchange account again.
With the Exchange account added, I’m given a choice of where to add created Contacts.
Without the additional account there is no choice given. (But I know that there are two locations on my iPhone for the Contacts to go into. One being the hidden MobileMe account.)

See images below.

<1612-13>

 

 

 

With the addition of the Exchange account, I was able to select iCloud as the default location for Contacts.
Creating another Mail Many email, iCloud was listed as the default, indicated by “ID: 4” in the image below.

<1609>

After a lot of thought and discussion about what to do next with a few very intelligent wonderful people, the next day, I decided to see if the solution reached in the Apple discussion thread would work for me now. At this point, the ultimate step would be to reset my iPhone back to factory as a new setup and restore, to see if it would delete the MobileMe database. I decided to delete the Exchange account first.

After deleting the Exchange account, I went back to Mail Many, and was happy to see that iCloud was now listed as the default database. Indicated by “ID 4”.
(Chorus of angels singing)

<1610>

 

I added a test Contact to my iPhone and it showed up on all devices almost immediately (chorus of angels singing).
The MobileMe database is still on my iPhone (see image 1615) but is no longer set as the default.

<1614>

<Address Book Aaa>

 

<1615>

Happy Camper!

Seriously!

:::

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • http://yourmacexpert.com Steven Klein

    A few of my client’s Macs had problems with syncing following the iCloud transition.

    The fix that always worked for me (and might have worked for you) was this:
    1. Turn of Contact syncing in the iCloud preference pane.
    2. Export all the contacts to a file on the desktop.
    3. Delete all the contacts from the address book.
    4. Quit, then re-launch Address Book (or Contacts, for Snow Leopard).
    5. Turn on iCloud syncing, and overwrite the cloud with the contacts from your Mac. (After this step, neither iCloud nor your Mac should have any contacts.)
    6. Import the contacts from the file exported in step 2.

  • http://tiny.cc/hunterdesigns Chita

    Hi Steve,
    It’s not the Mac that has the problem.
    The Contacts, as I stated, are contained inside the iPhone, only.

  • http://None Gordon MacDonald

    I stand in awe of your persistence and analytical skills.

    • http://tiny.cc/hunterdesigns Chita

      :)

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