How to Recover Android Contacts

Have you accidentally deleted a contact from the address book of your Android smartphone and don't know how to recover it? Have you just bought a new phone but don't know how to transfer the address book from your old smartphone to your new one? Don't worry, I'm here to help you out and explain how it's done.

With today's guide, we'll find out how to recover Android contacts when you accidentally delete names from the phonebook and we'll see how to transfer contacts from one phone to another (from Android to Android or from iPhone to Android) using Google's online synchronization or VCF files to export and import "manually" on the phone.

In both cases, these operations are extremely simple to complete and will take just a few minutes, but it must be said that restoring deleted contacts is not always possible. The success of the procedure depends very much on the date on which the names to be recovered were deleted and whether or not the contacts are synchronised with Gmail. To learn more, read on. You'll find all the steps you need to take right below. Good luck!

Recover deleted Android contacts

If you want to recover Android contacts because you accidentally deleted some names from your phone, you can use the restore feature included with Gmail to restore your address book to a previous state (up to 30 days back). This is a very simple operation, but of course it only works if you have synchronized your address book with Gmail on your smartphone.

To verify that the phonebook synchronization is active on your smartphone, go to the Android settings (the gear icon that is located on the screen with the list of all the apps installed on the phone), select the Account item from the menu that opens and click on the Google icon. At this point, select your Gmail address and check that the toggle next to the Contacts option is set to ON.

Once this check is done, connect to the Google Contacts service and select the items More > Undo changes from the sidebar on the left. Then choose whether to reset the address book status to 10 minutes ago, 1 hour ago, yesterday, 1 week ago or a custom date (within 30 days of today).

Finally, click the Confirm button, and the changes will take effect immediately on both Gmail and your Android smartphone.

If your phone's address book isn't restored within a few seconds, go back to Settings > Accounts > Google on your Android, select your Gmail account, and force sync your contacts with Google by turning the Contacts toggle off and on.

If your smartphone did not have contact syncing with Gmail enabled, I'm sorry, but there is very little chance that you will be able to recover the names you deleted from your address book.

If you previously copied the contacts to the SIM or exported them to a VCF file, you can try to recover them by opening the Android Contacts app, clicking on the (...) button at the top right, and selecting one of the options available in the Import/Export menu.

Alternatively, you could connect your phone to your computer and use one of the programs I recommended in my tutorial on how to recover deleted contacts and SMS from Android (eg EaseUS MobiSaver), which act directly on the memory of the device, but the chances of success are minimal.

Recover contacts from another Android smartphone

Want to recover contacts from an old Android smartphone? No problem. Again, you can take advantage of Gmail's synchronization features, or you can export your old phone's address book as a VCF file and import it to your new Android smartphone.

Sync with Gmail

To retrieve Android contacts from an old smartphone using Gmail sync, go to Settings > Accounts > Google on your old smartphone and check which Google account the device is associated with. If the phone is not yet associated with a Google account, click on the Add Account button and choose whether to set up an account or create a new one by following the on-screen directions.

Now, take your new smartphone, go to Settings > Accounts, click on the Add Account button and pair your device with the same Google Account you set up on your old smartphone. In order for the phonebook sync to go smoothly, you need to make sure that the Contacts option in the Settings > Accounts > Google menu is enabled on both phones.

Exporting and importing VCF files

Do you prefer to "manually" import contacts to your new smartphone without syncing with Gmail or other cloud services? This is a little more complicated than the one above, but you can easily do it.

Open the Contacts application on your old smartphone, click on the (...) button at the top right and select Import/Export from the menu that opens. Then select Export to archive and wait a few seconds for a VCF file with all the contacts in the address book to be created (you can follow the progress of the operation through the Android notifications menu).

On some Android terminals, after selecting the Import/Export item from the Contacts application menu, instead of selecting the "Export to archive" option, you have to indicate the source from which to copy the contacts (e.g. Phone) and then the target (i.e. the destination) where to save them (e.g. SD card). Then you have to select the contacts to be included in the VCF file and start its creation by clicking OK twice.

On Samsung terminals, however, you need to launch the Contacts application, click on the More/[...] button at the top right and select Settings from the menu that appears. In the screen that opens, select the Import/Export contacts option, click on the Export button and choose whether to export the VCF file of the address book to the phone memory or to an SD card.

Once the export is complete, use any file manager (e.g. ES File Manager) to select the contacts file (it should be called 00001.vcf) in the Home folder of your smartphone or SD card and auto-send it via email so that you can easily import it to your new smartphone.

After obtaining the VCF file with the contacts from the address book, launch your favorite email client on your new smartphone (e.g. Gmail), open the message you sent yourself earlier and download the address book file to your device by clicking on the arrow icon next to its name.

When the download is complete, open the Contacts application, click on the (...) button at the top right and select Import/Export from the menu that opens. Then tap on the Import from archive option, choose to import a vCard file and select the address book file to import (e.g. 00001.vcf). The process of importing the address book will take just a few seconds.

On some Android terminals, after selecting the Import/Export item from the Contacts application menu you must indicate the source from which to copy the contacts (e.g. SD card) and then the target (i.e. the destination) to which to import them (e.g. Phone). The phone will automatically find the VCF file and import it into the address book.

Recover contacts from an iPhone

Is your old smartphone an iPhone? No problem. Even iOS offers practical solutions for exporting contacts to other smartphones.

Sync with Gmail

Do you use your Gmail address book on Android? Then I recommend that you associate your old iPhone with a Google account and activate the synchronization of the address book on the latter. In this way you will have the contacts of the "apple" on Android in a completely automatic way (via the cloud).

To associate your iPhone with a Google account, go to the Settings > Mail menu in iOS, tap on Accounts > Add account and select the Google logo from the screen that opens. As you can easily guess, the Google account to set up on your iPhone must be the same one you have set up (or will set up) on your Android smartphone.

Once you're done, go to the Settings > Contacts menu on iOS, click on the Default account option and select Gmail from the screen that opens. This will set Gmail as the default address book on your iPhone.

Mission accomplished! Now, if you haven't already done so, set up your Google account on your new Android smartphone and the address book of the two devices will be automatically synchronized via the Internet.

Exporting and importing VCF files

If you prefer to export contacts from iPhone via VCF files, download the My Contacts Backup app from the App Store, which is completely free and extremely easy to use. It allows you to export all of your iOS address book contacts to a VCF file and send it via email.

To use My Contacts Backup, launch the app and say OK to the warning that appears on the screen (so that it can access your iOS address book). Then, tap on the Backup button, wait for the VCF file to be created with all the contacts in your address book and send it by clicking on the Email button at the bottom.

Once the email is sent, take your Android smartphone, open the message containing the VCF file and download the attachment to your phone by clicking on the appropriate icon.

Then open the Contacts application and import the VCF file into your android address book following the same procedure as described above for transferring contacts from Android to Android.

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