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On my iPhone 6 running IOS 9.1 (release 13B143), I cannot find any results when searching in either the Contacts app or in the Contacts tab in the Phone app. I have hundreds of contacts, but no matter what letter I type in the search field, I get no results. Example:

No results searching for A

But before I started typing, I could see dozens of contacts with last names starting with "A". This is a new problem; everything was working until a week or so ago, when I first noticed this issue.

Note: this is not the same as the many questions about Spotlight search not finding contacts, such as this one. Spotlight actually does find my contacts. So do the Messages app and the "Invitees" pane in the Calendar app. The Contacts and Phone apps, however, do not.

How can I fix this?

  • I suppose that "Contacts" is checked in Preferences > Spotlight Search right? – mgiordi Nov 9 '15 at 20:09
  • @mgiordi Yes. And like I said, I actually have no problem searching for contacts in Spotlight; only in the Contacts and Phone apps. – elixenide Nov 9 '15 at 20:11
  • Are any contacts visible when the search field is empty? – bneely Nov 9 '15 at 22:00
  • @bneely Yes, all of them. They're all in iCloud. – elixenide Nov 9 '15 at 22:01
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I figured this out. Somehow, I had two different contact cards marked as "my" card: one named "Ed Cottrell" and one named "Edward Cottrell." I have no idea how both of them got marked as "my" card; I don't even know where the second one came from. On my phone, only one of them showed up. In the Contacts app on my Macbook, both of them appeared. Anyway, this gave me an idea that this might be the source of the problem.

I took the following steps:

  • Delete one of "my" cards on the Macbook.
  • Exit the Contacts app on my iPhone (fully, as in double-pressing the home button and dragging the app upward).
  • Relaunch the Contacts app on my iPhone.
    • At this point, the "Groups" label appeared in the upper left corner of the Contacts app. I had been seeing a circular "reload" arrow, but no "Groups" label.
  • Tap on the "Groups" label.
  • Uncheck all groups.
  • Tap "Done."
  • Tap on the "Groups" label.
  • Check all groups.
  • Tap "Done."

And now, my contacts search works again. This was a pain, but at least it's fixed.

  • I have the same problem. Can I solve this without a MacBook ? – Goswin Nov 21 '15 at 18:12
  • Creating Groups on iCloud.com solved it for me. – Goswin Nov 21 '15 at 19:11
  • @Goswin glad you got it working! – elixenide Nov 21 '15 at 20:53
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My assumption is that contacts searching is made possible with a search index. What you describe makes it sound like the search index is corrupt or missing. If my assumption is correct, it's an internal detail that's not accessible or controllable by you. As Spotlight searching for contacts continues to work, this suggests that Spotlight uses a separate search index.

One thing you might try is adding a new contact on the phone. Doing this should cause the Contacts app to update its search index, and in this process, it may rebuild the whole thing.

If that fails, taking your phone to a Genius Bar at an Apple Store may result in a simple solution that they can perform for you on the spot.

Failing that, a drastic corrective measure may be to perform a device restore. This is a lengthy process and carries risk of data loss, so please only consider this as a last resort.

  • Thanks. Adding a new contact didn't seem to work. I'm still exploring. – elixenide Nov 9 '15 at 22:27

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