How to Restore Deleted Contacts on Android

Have you accidentally deleted a contact from your Android smartphone's address book and don't know how to retrieve it? Have you just bought a new phone but don't know how to transfer your old smartphone's address book to it? Don't worry, I'm just here to give you a hand and explain how to do it.

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


In both cases, these are extremely simple operations that will take you very few minutes to complete, but it must be said that it is not always possible to restore deleted contacts. The outcome 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. The best of luck!

Recover deleted contacts from Android

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

To verify that phonebook syncing is active on your smartphone, access your Android settings (the gear icon on the screen with a list of all the apps installed on your phone), select the Account item from the menu that opens and press the Google icon. Then, select your Gmail address and make sure the toggle next to the Contacts option is set to ON.


Once this is done, connect to the Google Contacts service and select the entries More > Cancel changes from the left sidebar. Then choose whether to return the phonebook status to 10 min 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 immediate effect on both Gmail and your Android smartphone.


If your phone's phonebook is not restored within a few seconds, go back to the Settings > Accounts > Google menu on Android, select your Gmail account and force the synchronization of your contacts with Google by deactivating and reactivating the Contacts option toggle.

If you didn't have contact syncing with Gmail on your smartphone, I'm sorry, but there's very little chance you'll be able to retrieve the names you've deleted from your address book.

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

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


Retrieve contacts from another Android smartphone

Do you 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.

Synchronization with Gmail

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


Now, take your new smartphone, go to the Settings > Accounts menu, press the Add Account button, and associate your device with the same Google account that you set up on your old smartphone. For phonebook synchronization to be successful, you must make sure that the Contacts option toggle in the Settings > Accounts > Google menu is active 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? It's a slightly more complex operation than you've seen before, but don't worry, you can easily do it.

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



On some Android devices, after selecting the Import/Export item from the Contacts application menu, instead of selecting the "Export to archive" option, you should indicate the source from which you want to copy your contacts (e.g. Phone) and then the target (i.e. destination) to which you want to save them (e.g. SD card). Then select the contacts to include in the VCF file and start creating the VCF file by pressing OK twice in a row.

On Samsung terminals, on the other hand, you should start the Contacts/Phonebook application, press the Other/[...] button in the upper right corner and select the Settings item from the menu that appears. On the screen that opens, select the Import/Export Contacts option, press the Export button, and choose whether to export the phonebook VCF file to the phone memory or to an SD card.

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

Once you have obtained the VCF file with the contacts in your address book, start your favourite email client on your new smartphone (e.g. Gmail), open the message you just sent yourself and download the address book file to your device by pressing the arrow icon next to its name.

When the download is complete, open the Contacts application, press the (...) button at the top right and select the Import/Export item from the menu that opens. Then tap on the Import from archive option, choose to import a vCard file and select the phonebook 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 have to indicate the source from which you want to copy the contacts (e.g. SD card) and then the target (i.e. destination) to which you want to import them (e.g. Phone). The phone will automatically find the VCF file and import it into the phonebook.

Retrieving contacts from an iPhone

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

Synchronizing with Gmail

Do you use the Gmail address book on Android? Then I recommend that you associate your old iPhone with a Google account and activate address book synchronization on the latter as well. This way you will have your "melafonino" contacts on Android fully automatically (via the cloud).

To associate your iPhone with a Google account, go to Settings > iOS Mail, tap on Account > 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.

When you are done, go to the Settings menu > iOS Contacts, press the Default Account option and select the Gmail entry from the screen that opens. This will configure Gmail as the iPhone's default phonebook.

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

Export and import VCF files

If you prefer to export contacts from your 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 the contacts in your iOS address book to a VCF file and send it via email.

To use My Contacts Backup, launch the application and answer OK to the alert that appears on the screen (so you can access your iOS address book). Then tap on the Backup button, wait for the VCF file with all the contacts in the address book to be created and send it to yourself by tapping on the Email button below.

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

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



Audio Video How to Restore Deleted Contacts on Android
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