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I am currently running OS X 10.9.1 and would like to create contacts that are stored locally on my MacBook Pro. My Contacts app does not have "On My Mac" as an option in the sidebar; only the contacts I have synced with my work's Exchange. Additionally, there is no discernible way to make the "On My Mac" account the default. I attempted to go to "Contacts > Preferences > General" but there is no option to choose the default account. However, if I add my GMail account then I can set the default but "On My Mac" is not an option.

All I want to do is create a contact that is stored only on my local machine and not synced with any cloud based service.

How do I enable the "On My Mac" contact group on OS X Mavericks?

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bmike's work around did not quite do it for me as, as soon as I re-enabled iCloud everything was merged back into one bunch of iCloud contacts again.

What did work for me is very similar though:

  • Select one or more of your contacts from the iCLouds group and drag them to your desktop creating one vCard.
  • In Preference > Accounts > iCloud uncheck the "Enable this Account". "On My Mac" appears immediately in the Group pane.
  • Drag the vCard from your desktop over the empty contact space, your contacts will be imported in "On My Mac".
  • In Preference > Accounts > iCloud check the "Enable this Account". iCloud will reappear as Group.

You now have two sets of contacts, one "On My Mac" and one "All iCloud". If you started out by dragging all contacts in the iCloud group to your desktop the two sets will be completely identical. Does it make sense to do that? Well, you'll always have your contacts available also in the event that your network is down. Furthermore it is a way of making a back-up of your iCloud contacts alternative to what is proposed on:

Archive or make copies of your iCloud data: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4910?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

Edit August 25

In addition to my answer fo August 20 I stumbled over perhaps an even better way of making an exact copy of your contacts from iCloud to your Mac. Once you have re-enabled iCloud you can select all contacts in "All iCloud" and just drag them in your "All on my Mac" group, so without using the back up you made earlier to your desktop. The nice thing is that your contacts birthdays won't show up twice in your Mac Calendar as they do when copied via Desktop first. Any contacts you add or delete via iCloud won't show up on or disappear from your On My Mac version. Editing of the content in iCloud appears to affect the On my Mac content as well when it is done in the Mac Contact app, not if it is done in iCloud on any other device. Anyway, the Contact App on your Mac distinguishes nicely the differences between the two. Just try it out by typing something in the Note field in either Group in Mac Contact or in your web based iCloud.

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  • Very nice write up. I'll try this next time I have a this happen.
    – bmike
    Aug 20, 2014 at 3:28
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How about this:

  • Back up your computer if you have any doubts that this will work
  • Export one contact from the app by selecting it and dragging it to the desktop
  • Quit the contacts app
  • Then disable all cloud based contact sources
  • Open the contact card on your desktop and add it to your contacts

You now have a local store of contacts. Add back the cloud accounts one by one and optionally move some of the contacts to the local store. Also, you will want to set your default account in the Contacts app preferences to your preferred store.

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  • Just a follow-up if anyone reads that with 10.14 Mojave (or possibly above): I used bmike's method for reminders and calendars in el capitan but it no longer worked in Mojave. What worked for me was this. Haven't tried it for contacts but it might work.
    – almerillat
    Jan 23, 2020 at 10:09
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Restore "on my mac" contacts.

I lost all my "on my mac" and other contacts while trying different settings to solve a sync problem. Restore with back up got my contacts back but not the "on my mac" no matter what I tried. (I am a seamstress not a computer expert)

Today I have been able to set up "on my mac" contacts again thanks to the question and answers above!

I noticed by turning off iCloud contacts (system preference->iCloud-> un tick contacts) and going back to contacts, my contacts in iCloud would disappear and on "my my mac" would appear.

Turning iCloud back on iCloud contacts all appeared again but "on my mac" disappeared.

How I restored "on my mac" contacts:

  • with iCloud contacts on, open contacts.
  • Drag one contact on to desk top.
  • Turn off iCloud contacts (system preference->iCloud-> un tick contacts)
  • Drag the contact icon from desktop and drop on to "on my mac" in contacts.
  • Turn on iCloud contacts (system preference->iCloud-> tick contacts)

Back to contacts, all iCloud contacts AND "on my mac" containing the one contact were there! Result! I could drag groups rather than single contact on to "on my mac". It copied so contacts were still in iCloud as well. Hope this helps and works for you too :) Happy!

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