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My boss has a MacBook Air and an iPhone, and pays for iCloud. We also use Outlook here. We discovered that her contacts weren't being synced properly between her phone and Contacts.app, and attempted to merge them. What we've discovered instead is that we've somehow created inexact duplicates, with the duplicates containing vCard flags marking what kind of data each contact is using:

vCard flag example e.g. type=CELL;type=VOICE

I don't recall exactly what we did to achieve this - I assume we imported some vCards and hoped that iCloud would sort through the duplicates - but is there any way to erase these contacts without manually stepping through, and has anyone seen this before and can advise how to stop this happening in the future?

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Run a search for data that would show up in a corrupt vCard, but not a legitimate one. For example: "type=VOICE". You may have to do this several times with different strings. I would take the results and export them before selecting all ( A) and deleting them. Make sure you can always undo, if needed.

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  • @merus did you try this? – Harv Aug 16 '17 at 20:52
  • not yet, I've got some time with my boss this afternoon. – Merus Aug 18 '17 at 3:11
  • doing this revealed that several of these contacts aren't actually duplicates, but we were able to export these as a vCard file and open it up in a text editor. From there, find and replace got us clean contacts and one very happy boss. Please enjoy some internet points! – Merus Aug 18 '17 at 4:44
  • Very cool, nice job – Harv Aug 18 '17 at 4:46
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No, the only way you can fix this is by manually deleting the duplicates. iCloud and Contacts aren't very good about this.

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  • Contacts has a "find duplicates" feature, actually. – Harv Aug 20 '17 at 20:13
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You can log into iCloud's site, navigate to the contacts page then you can either individually select contacts or select all and delete in the lower left hand corner cog. This requires you have iCloud syncing enabled for contacts.

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    'Select all' will also delete the legitimate contacts. That's not what I want. – Merus Aug 14 '17 at 5:36
  • @Merus you can individually select contacts or select groups if that's any help, gl – Ryan Aug 15 '17 at 13:04

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