For reasons unknown, everything just completely vanished from my Contacts (including contacts and all of my groups). Note, these are all Contacts that were stored on my Mac -- I don't use iCloud and they are not synced anywhere else.

No problem -- I have a Time Machine backup, so I enter TM, scroll back in time to yesterday, and there they are. I select all and restore all of my contacts. Back in the present, all of my individual contacts are there. But none of the groups are.

I've just spent several hours fruitlessly trying to figure out how to restore my groups. One thing that has not worked is copying the entire Application Support > AddressBook folder from my Time Machine to my user library: when I try this, and then restart Contacts, the entire list is empty again. (I don't understand this behavior at all, by the way.)

Where does Contacts store my group metadata? How can I restore it from a Time Machine backup?


2 Answers 2


Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been dealing with trying to selectively restore certain data types from TM. Upon disabling the iCloud on a few devices, I lost contacts, calendar, reminders and notes.

I worked with a senior Apple advisor to restore contacts and calendars from TM. (We were unable to get reminders and notes - argh.) I experienced what you have, some restore attempts did not bring back groups. I use groups heavily and so was very determined to find a solution that brought back both contacts and groups.

When I saw your post yesterday, I contacted the Apple advisor to confirm the steps we took to restore contacts, that included groups. He says that it was going to ~Library/Application Support/Address Book, and restoring that entire folder was the solution. I can’t remember for sure (we were trying lots of different things), but he says that was the one that worked. I have to assume he is correct.

In your message, you indicate that this is the route you tried without success. Keep trying...I want to let you know there is a solution, I was able to do so.



In Contacts, look at the View menu; you can hide groups, or show groups.

The data (at least, in El Capitan, 10.11.6) is in

"/Users/your_name_here/Library/Application Support/AddressBook"

When I delete a group, it changes the files "Metadata" and "AddressBook-v22.abcddb-wal"

  • You don't seem to have understood the question. The groups have been DELETED. And as I already said that restoring the entire Application/AddressBook directory didn't help, just telling me that they're somewhere in that folder is obviously not helpful.
    – mweiss
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 15:08
  • What is the evidence of deletion? Could it be disappearance? Change in the View menu explains disappearance.
    – Whit3rd
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 22:09
  • When you hide groups the sidebar disappears. In this case the sidebar is present, but empty: it says "All Contacts" and there is nothing below it.
    – mweiss
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 22:39
  • Two files change when I delete a group (see edited answer above)
    – Whit3rd
    Commented Feb 3, 2017 at 2:30

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