In iOS Settings, you can "Update All Contacts" with Facebook and Twitter. According to the explanation in the phone this will update photos and user names for all matching contacts. In addition, you can allow Facebook to use your contacts.

I have a lot of contacts and many of them have already got pictures that I have chosen myself. The contacts (and pictures) are synced with my Google Apps account.

If I do "Update All Contacts" with Facebook and/or Twittor or allow Facebook to use my contacts, will this overwrite existing pictures? (And thus change what is in my Google contacts?)

(For bonus points, please explain exactly what else will be changed.)

4 Answers 4


Facebook contact sync will add photos to contacts that don't have any pictures assigned and leave those that have them already unchanged.

Sources: on Facebook contact sync and review of the feature on iLounge with the answer to the question.


In my own experience, using the "Update All Contacts" creates new contact cards and doesn't change your contacts except the "Linked Contacts" field, which links your contact to his/her Facebook contact card.

When you view a contact card, it "shows" you the merged info on that contact. So if one of your contacts didn't have a picture, but the Facebook contact card has a picture, it will show the picture.

Also, when you're editing a contact which has several linked contact cards, you can set to show which picture to show on all contact cards. (Something like "unified picture", I don't remember it exactly and can't test it since I don't have any Facebook contact cards.)

P.S. about user24601's answer and iskra's comment, I must say that those "Groups" are really groups, and same contact cannot be in different groups. When you create a contact on iPhone (with iCloud set to on), it's placed under iCloud, but when you use "Update All Contacts", new contact cards are created and placed under Facebook group. You may want to remove your down-vote.

Also, I suggest not using different groups and thus several contact cards for each of your real-life (!) contacts. What I did to clear the mess created by "Update All Contacts" using Facebook, was to merge info manually and finally deleting the Facebook contact cards. For example I only had phone number of a friend, but his Facebook contact card had his email. So I added his email to his contact card by hand. This way, your contacts app remains clean, one contact card for each person. This is more important if you're using Contacts.app on a Mac too.

Sorry for the long answer, hope it helps.

  • I did not detect any new contacts. I do have some Facebook friends that were not in contacts, and they did not show up in contacts afters "Update All Contacts". Dec 14, 2014 at 19:23

I have now gone ahead and clicked "Update All Contacts" for Facebook.

Here are my empirical findings:

After about 30s it said 405 contacts updated

I examined my contacts and could see

  • Some contacts on that iPad got photos from Facebook
  • No existing photos were overridden.
  • On lots of contacts a “Facebook” entry was created. I guess this indicates that they are my friends on facebook. When I click such an entry, the Facebook app opens. However, it opens on the standard newsfeed. It does not open anything connected to that particular person. Is this a bug?
  • No photos were synced to Google or other iDevices. The photos did not appear in Google Contacts. They did not even appear on other iDevices set up syncing with Google Contacts. (I did the update on an iPad and my iPhone was not updated). The “Facebook” entry was updated on other iDevices.
  • I could not find any evidence that any new contact cards were created. No new Google Contacts were created. I do have some Facebook friends that were not in contacts, and they did not show up in contacts afters "Update All Contacts".
  • do you have any other facebook apps installed? Maybe it goes to chat by default, but you don't have chat installed (or something)
    – dwightk
    Dec 14, 2014 at 15:10
  • @dwightk I have both the official iPhone Facebook app and the Facebook messenger app. It is the ordinary app that opens up. I am Swedish. Maybe the links only work for english speakers? Dec 14, 2014 at 19:22
  • Yeah, that was just a guess. I'd say it is a bug then.
    – dwightk
    Dec 14, 2014 at 19:35
  • Thank you for follow up update Klas. What I have to add regarding these are: - Yes, contact cards for your Facebook friends that were not in address book or didn't have any details in their card that could help algorithm to assign them are created as new. I am on iOS 6.1.6, Ukrainian as local setting (if this matters) and if I click on Facebook field in the card it goes to person profile in Safari and opens a chat to the person in Facebook messenger if I click on IM field. - Can't comment on Google synced contacts since I don't use it.
    – iskra
    Dec 15, 2014 at 18:54

In my experience, Facebook will literally give each of your friends their own contact card, separate from any pre-existing contacts. You can link two separate contact cards after the fact, but in the beginning, I think any of your Google contacts who's also a Facebook friend will find themselves with two entries in Contacts, one Google and one Facebook. I'm attaching a screenshot of what my Groups pane of Contacts on my iOS 8.1.1 iPod Touch (linked to my Facebook account) looks like. There are Facebook contacts, but the non-Facebook contacts are still there too.

  • It has nothing to do with actual contacts. It is group feature of address book. Same contact can be assigned different groups.
    – iskra
    Dec 10, 2014 at 3:59

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