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I'm struggling to manage duplicate contacts and would like to entirely and permanently disable the "On My Mac" category for contacts.

I never, ever want a contact to be added to a Mac and not be stored in iCloud.

Have I missed a setup step since I'm ending up missing contacts on my iOS devices when my Mac decides to store things locally instead of globally.

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You missed a step when setting up iCloud.

On each Mac, you can set the default account to be iCloud in the general preferences.

Contacts general preferences

Now, you'll need a short clean up to migrate all your incorrectly filed contacts.

  • Select Accounts and temporarily disable each iCloud / Exchange / online account.
  • Then export all the "On My Mac" contacts to a vCard file and delete them (you have a backup of your Mac and if paranoid, a full export of all contacts before you delete things, no?)
  • Once things are clean, enable the default account, check that it's set like above, and drag the contacts onto the "All bike@whatever"

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  • Import all the contacts, even if there are duplicates as you can then have Contacts look for duplicates and merge / update existing contacts as needed.
  • Once you've deleted all contacts from On My Mac and deselected it as the default, Contacts should hide that group from view and simplify your contacts going forward.
  • At this point, optionally enable other cloud contact sources and re-verify the default account.
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