I have a strange situation, where I see multiple versions of a single contact. When I search for a name I see

  • current version (from iCloud)
  • old version (don't know from where)
  • an even older version (don't know from where)

When I try to open the new one, contacts.app start and I see the correct contact. When I try the old one, the app starts but no contact is shown.

I tried clearing spotlight data (block my drive and then unblock it). The contacts first were absent, but soon they reappeared. I guess somewhere on my drive there is a data file which stores the old contacts, but the contacts.app can't access it.

How can I find this file and remove it? It especially annoying in photos which (as it turns out) allow me to tag a photos with three faces and when I search for a name also all three show in the list.

  • If you select the contact, what happens in the contact app to show you the information? Is it in the notes field of another contact or is it a legitimate contact? Can you then delete it? I would also export the correct contact to the desktop and then delete the good contact. At some point you should clean...
    – bmike
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 21:58

3 Answers 3


Michal, Thanks for answering your own question; that really helped me.

Spotlight searches on my two Macs were littered with phantom duplicate contacts. I was hesitant to go this approach until I read of your success.

For future visitors, my steps were:

  1. You may want to backup Contacts (File - Export - Contacts Archive)
  2. Quit Contacts.app
  3. Turn off all contact sync services (System Prefs: Internet Accts: iCloud/Google: Contacts)
  4. Move contents of ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/sources to Trash.

  5. Re-enable iCloud, Google, etc Contact sync.

  6. Check address book in Contacts.
  7. Test Spotlight Search: success.

Both answers didn't work for me. Spotlight would still show contacts, deleted long time ago.

However, making the following helped me to solve this issue:

  1. Go to ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/sources
  2. There will be multiple folders. Check each one of them for the most recent contacts. You will recognize them, by looking into 'metadata' folder.
  3. Delete those folders in the /sources/ directory, that you think are old. Leave the most recent contacts folder intact.
  4. Spotlight search now displays the results correctly.
  • Also needed to reindex the Spotlight results after this.
    – needlol
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 16:16

Ok, I've found a dirty solution: I've turned off iCloud contacts, so my Mac had only local "ghost" contacts. Then I've deleted everything in ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/sources

I've got no idea what the sources were or why Contacts.app hadn't indexed it (or why Spotlight did), but after turning iCloud contacts back on the only contact version present were the current ones.

The ones from Photos.app however, still are wrong.

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