My father bought an iPhone within months of passing away. I need to get his contacts off before handing it down to another family member. His paid email account that was associated with his iCloud and iTunes account has been shut down, so I can't download the app that would help me backup his contacts easily.

His phone seems to sync fine with my iMac in that it brings up his photos whenever I plug it in and asks if I want to download them. Is there some way to sync and save his contacts in the same way?


Assuming you know his iCloud account details (which you will need anyway in order to remove the activation lock to give the iPhone to a new user) you can download the Contacts as a series of vCards directly from https://www.icloud.com/#contacts

Click the Gear icon bottom left, 'Select All', then 'Export vCard…' It will download a single file, called [First Contact Name] and [number] others.vcf
e.g. "Fred Smith and 27 others.vcf"
It will also try to import them immediately into Contacts on a Mac, but you can cancel that operation if that's not your desired result.

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  • Unfortunately, I have a bunch of passwords and security question answers, but not his iCloud account details. As mentioned, he is dead and his email account associated with the iCloud account is closed. Importing them directly into Contacts on a Mac would be preferable. – shillam Oct 22 '15 at 22:45
  • The trouble with trying to sync them to a Mac is that sync works both ways. For it to trust that mac & use it to sync, it will first wipe, then sync to whatever is on the Mac - not what you want. Avoiding the issue of needing the actual iCloud account details now will only bring it up again later - you will need them at some point. Contacting Apple with proof of ownership would be your best bet; the fact that the email address used as the iCloud account name no longer exists is not in fact an obstacle, as the primary address can be changed…if you know the login [all roads lead back to there] – Tetsujin Oct 23 '15 at 6:37

Actually if you can back up the phone to a computer there a at least a couple of utilities that will allow you to work directly with the backup and extract info from it. Some will also work directly with the phone itself. The one I used a while back is called iExplore and seemed to work pretty well/

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