How to keep your virtual address book up to date

How to keep your virtual address book up to date

Nothing beats a well-maintained address book. However, if the contacts are to be shared or transferred to another service, there are some things to consider. The following guide will make you fit for the takeover. […]

When the first mobile phones appeared, the management of addresses was nothing less than a spasm. Names, addresses and telephone numbers had to be entered using a tiny numeric keypad. Often this data was stored in the device or on the SIM card – but it was difficult to find out exactly where. And when the provider was changed and therefore a new SIM card was inserted, the recording started again.

Today everything is so much easier. Contacts are stored online in a cloud and kept up to date between all devices. And if the smartphone is changed once, the transfer of the addresses takes exactly as long as you need to set up the cloud account.

In the following, we describe how you can easily keep your contacts up–to-date and synchronized via the cloud – for both Android and iOS.

Legacy SIM contacts

But maybe there are still ancient contacts stored on your SIM card that are not stored in any cloud and are lost if the card is lost. Therefore, you should take over these contacts first.

Figure 1: the import of the addresses from the SIM card under Android (c)


On the Android smartphone, open your contact list. Tap the three dots at the top right. In the menu, select the Import Contacts command and open the Import/Export section.

Depending on the device and Android version, the commands may be a little different. Tap the Import from SIM option, Picture 1, to copy the contacts. You can select the local device storage as the destination, but it makes sense that the addresses are synchronized directly with your Google account.


On iOS, the procedure is just as simple. In the settings of the device, open the Contacts section and tap Import SIM contacts, Picture 2. The contacts will be taken over and matched with iCloud. If you are curious and import the SIM card on the off chance, you may find various emergency and support numbers in your address book that the mobile provider has considered important or useful – and which you probably now want to delete again.

Figure 2: the import of the addresses from the SIM card under iOS (c)


Android users usually use a Google account to compare their contacts, emails and appointments between devices. iOS and Mac users are more inclined to Apple’s own service iCloud. But sometimes there are also mixed forms, for example, if the partner uses a different system or business and private addresses are to be integrated. Then it may be useful to set up two or even more address books. These addresses are only seemingly shown in a single large pool. In fact, they continue to be stored separately from each other on the respective servers.

It is much easier to integrate the addresses from the Google address book on the iPhone than vice versa. So if you want to manage a common root of addresses with your better half, it may make sense to set up a Google account exclusively for this purpose, in which all common contacts are stored.

Google via iCloud

Figure 3: iOS makes it very easy to integrate third-party accounts

The iPhone makes integrating the Google data really easy. Open the settings of the device and tap on the Contacts section there. Open the Accounts section and then tap on the Add Account button, Picture 3. Log in with one of the supported services and select the data to be transferred – so in our case the address book, but also notes or e-mails are candidates.

The contacts from the Google account are now added to the other entries in the iPhone app “Contacts” and treated as if they came from the iCloud account. However, these contacts are not automatically synced to the iPad or Mac; instead, the foreign accounts on any other device must also be added manually.

iCloud on Android

Unfortunately, the transfer of addresses under Android is not so easy and requires a specialized app, such as “Sync for icloud-contacts”, which is available in the Play Store via the following link. It can tap the addresses directly from iCloud, but Apple requires that two-factor login is active for this Apple ID. But this is recommended anyway in any case.

Exchange address books

Perhaps there are good reasons why you store addresses and contacts on two different services – for example, to separate business and personal life. On the other hand, if you completely switch from Android to iOS (or the other way around), you should transfer your contacts completely. In both cases, the easiest way to do this is to perform the transfer on the computer in a web browser.

Tip: Before the export, the best time is to clean out the addresses so that you switch platforms with a fresh, cleaned database.

From iCloud to Google

Log in to the web browser at the link with your Apple ID. Click on the Contacts icon to access the addresses. At the bottom left, go to the gear icon, Picture 4 A. In the pop-up menu, select the Select All command B, followed by Export vCard C. Now all contacts will be saved in a vCard file in your download folder.

Figure 4: The export of all iCloud addresses runs via the web browser (c)

Here’s a tip: Keep this vCard file well, at least for the time being. It’s your safety net in case something goes wrong.

After that is done, go to the website on. Click on the Import link on the left edge, Figure 5 A. In the following dialog, use the Select File B button to select the vcf file that you have already exported from iCloud. With Import C you take over all addresses in one wash.

Image 5: Importing iCloud to Google’s contacts is a breeze (c)

From Google to iCloud

On the other hand, if you want to transfer your addresses from Google to iCloud, the procedure is downright indecently simple. Log in with your Google account at the address on. In the left column, click the Export button, Picture 6 A. In the next step, select all contacts from B and use as a format vCard (for iOS contacts) C.

Figure 6: Google’s contacts even take iCloud into account (c)

Log in to the browser at the link with your Apple ID and open the Contacts icon in the overview. Click on the gear at the bottom left, Picture 7 A, and select the Import vCard B command in the context menu. Select the vCard you just exported to take the addresses from the Google account.

Tip: When the transfer is done, you should cut the old connections. Avoid the situation when you need to maintain two address trunks, because you could not part with them. Ideally, you keep the vCard files after the data transfer, but delete all addresses in the respective service.

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