Some time ago my iPad Contacts app has begun an odd behaviour of incorrectly formatting American telephone numbers. Instead of displaying "(415)-123-1234", for example, it displays "41 5123 1234". Even when I create a new contact on the iPad, the telephone number is forced into the same odd spacing pattern.

I've checked all of the international settings I can find. I am set up for American telephone numbers, both on the iPad (General > International > Region Format) and on my Mac (System Preferences > Language & Text > Formats). On my Mac, the Address Book displays numbers with the correct formatting, and when I log into iCloud directly the numbers are also displayed correctly. Since the iPad syncs with iCloud, I'm surprised that the formatting isn't carrying over.

I do spend a lot of time in England, so I have quite a few telephone numbers in the British format as well as lots in the American format. I don't recall having ever set the device to British standards, though, and manually entering the correct spacing and punctuation seems to have worked until recently.

I've taken the iPad to the Apple Store and wasn't able to get a very helpful answer (though I haven't yet made a specific appointment for this at the Genius Bar). It's a fairly minor annoyance, but I thought I'd post the question on the off chance that someone can see an answer that I've not thought of myself.

  • Do you have your Mac Address Book set up to format them correctly in its prefs? Address Book/Preferences/Phone. I'm wondering if a template problem there is carrying over to iCloud and the iPad.
    – Richard
    Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 3:38
  • Thanks for the suggestion, Richard. Things are set up correctly on the Mac (I just double-checked the prefs), and everything works on iCloud.
    – Ash
    Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 10:42

1 Answer 1


The phone number format is set in Settings -> General -> International -> Region Format.

But believe it or not, it seems like your carrier is actually able to override whatever you've got set there (on my WiFi iPad, changing the Region Format updates Address Book's format, but on my iPhone it doesn't have any effect).

While researching it I saw some mention of Verizon fixing this issue by dialling *228, waiting for it to connect, then dialling 1 and waiting for it to disconnect.

Is it a 3G iPad? Perhaps while you were in England, something got switched over.

  • Interesting thought! It is a 3G iPad. I will see if a Vodafone support person has an idea.
    – Ash
    Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 10:41
  • Wow, thanks for that Abhi. I'm curious, do you know of or can you post a link to a list of all the various ways a carrier can mess with our data. This scares the shit out of me as I'm meticulous with my contacts and calendar and don't like the idea of AT&T or any carrier being able to get in there.
    – Richard
    Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 12:21
  • They don't have any access to your contact database at all. They just have the ability to send a bit of info to your phone to specify what format is used for numbers. I suspect it has to do with how caller id works, and Apple has chosen to use it in the contacts app as well as the phone app. Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 19:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .