On my iPad and iPhone I have several email accounts: three Gmail and one Exchange account. I stopped using the Exchange account and tried to remove it from the iPhone, but also all my contacts were deleted. On the iPad the Exchange account is still configured and the contacts are still there.

Is there a way to transfer all contacts into iCloud and distribute it again on the iPhone (and my MacBook)?

7 Answers 7


From http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5058 :

Data stored with iCloud will not interact with your Microsoft Exchange data, while likewise your Exchange data will not interact with iCloud data.


Thought I'd share how I did this since I'm new to iPhones, iCloud. I found other tutorials that involved iTunes and such but I didn't want the hassle.

Requirements are Gmail Account and a valid iCloud account (Apple ID)

  1. Go to your Google Contacts

  2. Click the More menu > Export

  3. Choose the group or all of your contacts you wish to export, whichever you prefer.

  4. Choose vCard format and click the Export button.

  5. You will now have a contacts.vcf which has been downloaded to your computer. Put it on your desktop if you prefer.

  6. Rename contacts.vcf to yournamehere.vcf (example: stephan.vcf)

  7. Log in to iCloud. www.icloud.com

  8. Click Contacts Important Note: Make sure there are no contacts listed here before importing or this may not work. The page needs to be blank.

  9. Drag the .vcf file into the window under All Contacts. The page will highlight with a blue rectangle when you drag the .vcf onto it. Wait a little bit. (It took about 8 seconds for mine to import. I only have 136 contacts though.)

On your iPhone, go to Settings > iCloud and make sure Contacts is listed as ON.

The only issue I had with this was the pictures of my contacts did not port over. Not a big deal I guess for how easy it was. Let me know if this helped.

Source: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1253546

  • I too had been trying to sort out my contacts, and came across your suggestion. This worked for me although i couldn't drag my contacts card, i had to use the import option on icloud. But it worked all the same.
    – user22857
    May 15, 2012 at 21:50

complicated...but I got it working...here it goes. You will need:

  • Outlook 2010 on a PC
  • A Gmail account
  • An iCloud account.

To be able to import Outlook .vcf cards into iCloud, you will not be able to do it directly. You need to export from Outlook, then import to your Google account, then export out of the Google account in the *vCard format (for importing into Apple's Address Book or another application). There you will be able to get all your Outlook contacts, exactly as they are, into your iCloud account. There are some limitations, as Outlook does not let you export several vCards at the same time, and Google does not let you import several vCards at the same time. Here are the instructions to get this rolling:

  1. On Outlook 2010, go to File>Options>Mail, and in the compose messages section select "Plain Text" from the dropdown box, then hit OK. This is very important, for the next step to work.
  2. Now go to contact, hit Command ⌘ + A (Ctrl ⌃ + A for Windows users) This will select all your contacts. Then, go up to the ribbon and on the "Share" section, where it reads "Forward Contact", click on the dropdown and select "As Business Cards" (if you don´t do step one, Outlook will crash attempting to create images of the vCards for each contact on an email message).
  3. If you did right, now you have a new email window opened, with all your vCards as attachment. Select all the Vcards and copy.
  4. Create a folder and save all the vCards in the folder.
  5. Time to merge all vCards into a single one, for them to be uploaded into your Gmail account, follow the instructions here.
  6. Once you managed to create one single .vcf files with all your contacts (don´t try to open it cause you will see nothing), go to your Gmail account and import them. To do that, on the left upper corner of the screen, 3rd row, you’ll see the word "Gmail". Click the dropdown there and select Contacts. Moving along the same row, go to "More", click the dropdown and select "Import Contacts", then select the .vcf file and voilà, your contacts are now in Gmail.
  7. Now we will export the contacts. Select All contacts (if you have more than 100 contacts, you will need to do this in 3 or 4 pieces, selecting no more than 100 contacts to export) , then hit "More" and select "Export Contacts". Use the last option, *vCard format (for importing into Apple Address Book or another application).

This will give you a VCF files with all the contacts, in a format that iCloud will accept with no issues, then just sync your iOS device, and that is it.

Do not try to export a CSV file from Outlook to import into Gmail, because it will dump most of the contact info into notes instead of the fields. I hope it works for you all as it worked for me.


There will be no automatic syncing between Exchange and iCloud. You can manually import the contacts to iCloud. There are different ways to do this, depending on a lot of factors:

If you have Microsoft Outlook with access to the same Exchange account:

  1. Export all contacts as vcf (some hints here: Export Outlook )

  2. Import into iCloud by following second part of this (Macrumors )

If you don't have Microsoft Outlook, you can still export them from the iPad into a file, which you can import to iCloud using above link. Try this app (Export contacts) or see if you are able to sync it to your computer using iTunes (I'm however doubting that it would sync from the Exchange account for this purpose).

  • Link broken - thought the idea was not to just post a link or two
    – ransems
    Apr 20, 2020 at 13:40

I don't have a google account, nor a windows computer with outlook.

I am running iOS 9, and my iPhone was linked to my work's Exchange server (2010 - version 14) with all my personal contacts.

I bought a new Macbook and wanted to link my iMessages on the Macbook to my phones contacts, but I didn't want to link my personal computer to my work's Exchange server.

So...these were the steps I took to move my contacts from Exchange to iCloud.

Log into the Exchange server's OWA web interface (Usually https://your.exchangeserver.com/owa )

Click on the Contacts on the left side.

On the right hand side should be your list of contacts. Select a bunch of them (I had to do it in 3 bunches because it complained when I selected too many). Right click and pick 'Forward as Attachment'. It attached all of them as individual attachments, 1 .vcf each. I sent the email to myself.

When I got all the emails, I saved all the attachments to a directory.

Now...on the phone, in the Settings App->Mail,Contacts,Calendars I went to my Exchange account and turned off Contact syncing. It told me it would delete all my Exchange contacts on the phone, and when I accepted, it did.

So, now I had no contacts.

On my MacBook, I logged into iCloud.com and clicked on 'Contacts'.

From the Finder as a test I dragged and dropped a single .vcf file into the 2nd pane from the left (where the list of contacts is). It imported fine.

But dragging and dropping more than 1 always gave me an import error (the error message was something like "bad data in field").

I didn't want to import 188 files, one at a time. I wanted to do them all at once. From reading on the Web, I suspected that iCloud could import more than 1 record per file, so I concatenated them all into 1 file.

To do so, I opened a terminal and changed directory to where I saved the .vcf files. Then I ran this:

cat *.vcf >> all_contacts.vcf

Then i dragged all_contacts.vcf into the iCloud.com contacts list pane, and it imported all 188 perfectly. Even the photos of my contacts.

On my phone, I went to Settings App->Mail,Contacts,Calendars then picked the iCloud account. I enabled syncing of Contacts, and they were all there.

Hope this helps.


There's a $0.99 app that can transfer your Exchange contacts to iCloud in a matter of seconds. It's called "Contact Mover & Account Sync." You can read about it at:


  • 3
    Self-promotion isn't totally off-limit but at least say so in your answer.
    – nohillside
    Dec 15, 2012 at 9:50
  • After literally 1 ½ hrs with Apple support and they finally saying it was not possible I found the above info. The app mentioned above is now (11/18/14) $3.99 but worth every penny. The sync was easy and painless.
    – user101335
    Nov 18, 2014 at 22:26

fwiw, you can set up your contacts on an apple device (iOS10 or above, and MacBook Pro Mojave, at least) to use your Microsoft Exchange account by opening the Contacts app on your iOS or MacBook Pro> Preferences> Accounts> Add account (exchange, yahoo, etc)> let it configure (ie not manual) > sign in to your source account (like ms exchange or yahoo, etc.) and if you deactivate the iCloud account in the Contacts > Accounts window, then you won't have duplicates. this allows you to use the ms Exchange server across all of your devices and computers rather than iCloud. :)

  • Welcome to Ask Different. This answer might help someone but it's very difficult to tell by the way it's written. Can you look at the other answers already provided and format this so that it's easier to read and understand?
    – fsb
    Feb 20, 2019 at 19:31

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