How to sync your contacts between your iPhone and Microsoft Outlook


You can keep your iPhone and Outlook contact lists synchronized. Here are four ways to get it done.

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You maintain one contact list in Microsoft Outlook and another on your iPhone, and you want to keep the two lists in sync. To help you achieve this goal, there are a few options.

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First, if you use Microsoft Exchange in your organization, you can enable Contacts as one of the synchronization choices. Second, if you run iTunes on your Windows PC, you can sync your Outlook and iPhone contacts when you sync your phone. Third, if you don’t use iTunes, another option is iCloud. Finally, you can always turn to a third-party solution.

Let’s look at all four methods.

Exchange synchronization

If you or your organization uses Microsoft Exchange for your mail server, you can sync your contacts between Outlook and your iPhone. To do this from your phone, go to Settings and select Contacts. Tap the entry for Accounts and then select your Exchange or Microsoft 365 account. Turn on the switch for Contacts (Figure A). Check your contacts in Outlook and on your iPhone to confirm that they’re in sync.

Figure A

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iTunes synchronization

If you don’t use Exchange, then iTunes is a second option. To download and install iTunes, browse to Apple’s support document for Download And Use iTunes for Windows. Connect your iPhone to your PC. Open iTunes and click the icon for your phone. Under Settings, select the option for Info. Check the box for Sync Contacts With and change the source to Outlook. If a message appears confirming that you want to switch the sync provider, click the Switch button (Figure B).

Figure B

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If you maintain more than one contact group, click the box for Selected Groups and choose a specific group. Otherwise, keep the selection set to All Contacts. Click the Apply or Sync button at the bottom to synchronize your contacts (Figure C).

Figure C

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iCloud for Windows synchronization

There are a few drawbacks trying to use iTunes to sync your contacts. First, Apple states that support for syncing contacts and calendars has been deprecated and will be removed in a future version of iTunes, Second, if you’re in a business environment, you may not be allowed to install iTunes on your PC. Third, iTunes is a resource-intensive and sometimes buggy application, so you may simply not want to clutter up your computer with this program. For all those reasons, a better option is to use iCloud for Windows.

On your iPhone, go to Settings and tap your name at the top of the screen. At your Apple ID screen, tap the entry for iCloud. At the iCloud screen, turn on the switch for Contacts (Figure D).

Figure D

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Next, you’ll need to get iCloud for Windows. There are two versions of the iCloud Windows app that you can use. Apple offers the traditional iCloud Control Panel for Windows desktop software. Alternatively, Apple and Microsoft provide a universal Windows app for iCloud. Both apps include much of the same functionality, but for syncing purposes, either one will do the job.

To get the iCloud Control Panel for Windows program, browse to Apple’s Download iCloud For Windows page. Click the link in the text for “On Windows 7 and Windows 8, you can download iCloud for Windows on Apple’s website.” (Don’t worry. This version works in Windows 10 and 11 as well.) Install the downloaded iCloudSetup.exe file. After installation, click the Start button, move to and open the iCloud folder in the Apps menu and click the shortcut for iCloud.

To get the iCloud universal app from Microsoft, browse to its page at the Microsoft Store and click the Get button to download and install the program. After installation, click the Start button and click the iCloud shortcut in the Apps list.

After you open the iCloud app, the steps are the same for both versions. Sign in with your Apple ID and password. At the iCloud window, check the box for Mail, Contacts, and Calendars with Outlook. Click Apply (Figure E).

Figure E

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In the past, the iCloud for Windows app allowed you to pick which items you wanted to sync with iCloud. So you could opt to sync your contacts but not your calendar or mail. For some reason, that option is no longer available with iCloud for Windows. If you go this route, the app now automatically syncs your mail, contacts and calendar. If you proceed, the setup kicks off. After it completes, a notification tells you that Outlook has been set up to use iCloud for your calendars and contacts. Click Done and close the iCloud for Windows app (Figure F).

Figure F

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Open Outlook and click the Calendars icon. You’ll now find a contact list for iCloud that will remain in sync between Outlook and your iPhone (Figure G).

Figure G

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Third-party synchronization

Finally, if you can’t or don’t want to use any of the above methods to sync your contacts, one other option is to use a third-party product. One such product is Sync2 Cloud from 4Team, which costs $49.95 for a single license. With this utility, you can sync your contacts among iOS/iPadOS, Exchange, iCloud, Google and other cloud-based services (Figure H).

Figure H

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