Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I recently started using the Gmail app on my iOS devices because it has better search functionality than the native Mail app. However, that means that when I'm writing emails the app is using my Gmail contacts and not the local phone contacts, which is annoying. The solution is to keep my iCloud contacts, which currently sync between my Mac and my iOS devices, in sync with Google as well. What is the best way to do this? It appears that I can sync my computer's local contacts using Address Book, but that won't help with my contacts which are stored in iCloud.

share|improve this question
Not sure it's exactly the same as your situation, but this Q&A may be helpful: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/27603/… –  Andrew Ferrier Dec 19 '12 at 14:14

8 Answers 8

I found it quick and easy to go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, & Calendars -> Add Account -> Other -> Add CardDAV Account (under Contacts). Type google.com as Server, then type your Google email as username, password and click Done.

I had to use the application specific-password because I have a 2-step verification security setting with google but apart from that it was the easiest and quickest way I have seen yet.

share|improve this answer
This should probably be the accepted solution. It is also what google currently recommends. –  Cawas Jun 17 '13 at 14:24
It only works if you stop using iCloud for your contacts. It will allow you to bring down Google contacts, and will allow you to edit those contacts in your phone, but it won't sync between the two services. –  Alan Shutko Oct 10 '13 at 21:57

I have this setup too and using an Exchange account only for syncing contacts between Google and my iPhone.

The process is described here:


So I set up an Exchange account but ONLY syncing contacts.

Another video version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVEf-skW-Kg

share|improve this answer
Would this work even for non google app (a.k.a. regular free gmail)? –  Cawas Jun 17 '13 at 14:23

I have used SyncMan to do exactly this in the past. SyncMan offers bidirectional sync that will offer you the opportunity to confirm changes (definitely a plus when syncing two differing address books!). However, I don't use the bidirectional sync feature. Instead, I do the following:

  1. Add/Edit all my contacts only in Apple's iCloud Contacts
  2. Setup SyncMan to perform a uni-directional sync from iCloud to Google

This allows me to have my contacts accessible in Google and avoid any sync conflicts that may arise from bidirectional sync.

Give the software a try (they offer a thirty day trial) but before you do (and as with any new program) make a backup of your data:

  1. Open Contacts.app
  2. File > Export... > Contacts Archive...

NOTE: This solution requires you to use your Mac to sync to Google.

share|improve this answer

Not a sync, but simple one time import from Google Contacts to iCloud is possible without any additional tools on Mac.

Setup Contacts.app to Sync contacts on this computer grou with Google Account, then select all Contacts on this computer and export them as vCard, you can be sure - it shows in the filename how much contacts it exports.

Then select iCloud group and select File - Import, choose previous saved vCard file.

It shows you the duplicates, you can choose the policy of merging. After that all contacts will be in iCloud group.

share|improve this answer
  1. Switch On the Sync between your iPhone and iCloud by going to Settings > iCloud and switching Contacts ON. Be careful to check the iCloud website first to not duplicate or to remove a contacts that were still there and weren't used before. To make it easy, just delete all your contacts on iCloud website and then sync your contacts from your iPhone to iCloud by switching on your iCloud on from your iPhone again.
  2. After you finish syncing between iCloud and iPhone, log in to the iCloud website and enter your username and password, check the Contacts Number down below by scrolling down the menu from the right column of words (A, B, C… #) and check the numbers and compare it with your phone, it should be the same.
  3. Press the settings button on the bottom-left of the window on your computer. Choose Select All > Export. Then it should save the *.vcf file to the downloads folder.
  4. Log in to your Google Mail account and then go to contacts, then choose Import from a file, then search for the exported file on your machine and choose it, then the files automatically will be add inside the contacts folder.

Note: I understand that it's a little bit long way to do it but I'm sure that you will avoid duplication. You will find your contacts are up to date always from iPhone to iCloud to Google Contacts.

share|improve this answer

it's very simple if you are using a mac. just setup in Contacts both accounts - iCloud & Gmail and then drag and drop ;)

If you open Contacts program on your Mac and then go inside the settings you can add an account for google.com. Just give your google username and password and server name google.com

Now you can mark all contacts in the iCloud account in Contacs program and drag them to the Google account in contacts program enter image description here

share|improve this answer
Welcome to SE and thank you for your answer. Would you mind being a little more specific in the steps needed to keep iCloud contacts in sync with Google? Perhaps where you drag from and drop in? –  bassplayer7 Feb 12 '13 at 23:10
This isn't very clear answer. I have Contacts in both accounts, but drag what to where? The question is not how to export one time, but how to keep them in sync. –  progrmr Feb 21 '13 at 18:31
I think you have to learn a scadinavian language first :-) –  meduz Jul 8 '13 at 12:32

The major issue is that you need contacts in Google to use google services, like sending Google calendar invitations or sharing docs via Drive, and you need contacts in iCloud to use iCloud services, like Pages or sending an email from iCloud.com. Seeing as the two are in increasing competition with each other, they will not play nicely, nor do they have any reason to. Your best logical bets are to use a third party tool to keep the two in sync, or only update contacts in one place and run a manual export, one-way, from one to the other. Unfortunately, in this scenario, you pay for automation.

share|improve this answer

I tried this and found a world of pain. There is a reason Google and Apple make this difficult. With a few minor fixes, either of those companies could make this very simple. The purpose of Apple products is to have seamless interface with different devices.

If you start mixing and matching you defeat one of the most, if not the most, important advantages of using Apple products. Take my advice and do not try to sync your Google contacts with iCloud.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.