On my iPhone I like to have a contact associated with any number from whom I receive messages. However, I've been struggling to do this with texts from (e.g.) my bank who use an alphabetic sender ID. I've tried adding the text that appears in the Messages app to the contact as a mobile phone "number" -- the Contacts app accepts this, but it doesn't get associated with the contact in the Messages app.

Does anyone know how to do this? These textual sender IDs are quite common these days so it would seem like an obvious thing to support.

I have an iPhone 6S running iOS 10.

EDIT [2016-09-17]

It appears from the comments this may be a region-specific feature - to clarify, I'm in the UK, so it's quite possible we're not a large enough market for them to bother about supporting these more gracefully.

Here's a snippet from my Messages screen - note that these are not contacts, this is how the SMS arrives even if it's from a totally new sender:

Screenshot of Messages with sender ID

If you try to add to existing contact, it doesn't add anything.

  • Can you give an example of a sender ID that you're wanting to add? I've never seen one before.
    – tubedogg
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 18:28
  • @tubedogg - I was waiting for someone else to say that, me neither. Is this a provider/territory-based feature?
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 19:45
  • @Tetsujin Per plivo.com/docs/getting-started/…, "Alphanumeric sender ID is not allowed in some countries including US, Canada, and Brazil because of carrier regulations."
    – tubedogg
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 20:59
  • 1
    Apparently you cannot reply to an alphanumeric sender ID. My guess is the system is preventing the contact from appearing in iMessage because it knows this, maybe?
    – tubedogg
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 1:46

2 Answers 2

  1. Export contacts to a .vcf file type.
  2. Open the exported file with a text editor.
  3. Copy the format. In "TEL;CELL:" enter whatever alphanumeric letters you wish to put.
  4. Save and import it back to ur contacts.


FN:My Google Account

Saved in contacts letters Converts to numbers based on its location on dial pad When Called


I'm not sure that's possible. I'm not a regular iOS user but I can confirm that it cannot done on Android too.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post once you have sufficient reputation. If you have a new question, please ask it by clicking the Ask Question button. Include a link to this question if it helps provide context.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 19:44

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