I recently added/updated some pictures for my contacts within the built-in phone app. Gmail now somehow has those pictures, 1) how is this possible? 2) How do I limit Gmail's access to my contacts info/pics?

I am running an IPhone 7 with the current iOS. I do have the gmail app installed, but it does not have permission to access my contacts AFAIK. The settings for my gmail account within the built-in mail app has Mail, Contacts, Calendar all set to enabled. My understanding of that contacts slider switch is a "one-way" deal. My phone has access to my gmail contacts not the other way around, but maybe that understanding is flawed. 3) Is my understanding on this matter correct?

I greatly appreciate input from anyone with direct knowledge on what controls directly pertain to gmail's access to my phones contact pictures.

  • Having contacts enabled uploads them to Google and Downloads Google Contacts to your phone. A kind of Phone Backup if you will. Calendars will do the same thing. All have read/write access to those sandboxes: those being Mail, Contacts, and Calendar.
    – bret7600
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 3:36

3 Answers 3


Your phone and your Gmail contacts get synced, which means if you change a contact on your phone, it will change on your Gmail contacts too, and vice-versa. It is not a one-way deal.

To limit Gmail access, you will have to disable contacts sync entirely with Gmail(using the slider) in the settings app.

Your contacts include pictures as information which is part of the contact, and Gmail syncs the entire contact, so there is no way to block Gmail from accessing your contact photos.

  • What an unfortunate situation. A one-way contacts import from sources outside Apple's control (i.e. Gmail) seems like a useful function, especially given Apple's attempt to market themselves as the more secure mobile platform option. I personally have no need or desire to share all my detailed contact info with Google. Unfortunately sounds like it's too late, but I can at least fix it going forward. Thanks for the detailed info!
    – Jo Da
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 1:18

Enabling Contacts for a particular account (such as Gmail) syncs contacts on the device with that account.

You can choose to disable Contacts for that account and it should prompt you as to whether you want to keep contacts on the device or delete them. However, there is no way that I'm aware of to have one-way contact sync like you describe.


Go to Settings/Privacy/Contacts and switch the slider next to gmail from "on" (green) to "off" (plain white).

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