I recently started using the Gmail app on my iOS devices because it has better search functionality than the native Mail app. However, that means that when I'm writing emails the app is using my Gmail contacts and not the local phone contacts, which is annoying. The solution is to keep my iCloud contacts, which currently sync between my Mac and my iOS devices, in sync with Google as well. What is the best way to do this? It appears that I can sync my computer's local contacts using Address Book, but that won't help with my contacts which are stored in iCloud.


10 Answers 10


I found it quick and easy to go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, & Calendars -> Add Account -> Other -> Add CardDAV Account (under Contacts). Type google.com as Server, then type your Google email as username, password and click Done.

I had to use the application specific-password because I have a 2-step verification security setting with google but apart from that it was the easiest and quickest way I have seen yet.

  • 4
    This should probably be the accepted solution. It is also what google currently recommends.
    – cregox
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 14:24
  • 4
    It only works if you stop using iCloud for your contacts. It will allow you to bring down Google contacts, and will allow you to edit those contacts in your phone, but it won't sync between the two services. Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 21:57
  • 5
    Not quite. This will show your Google contacts on your iOS device, but won't synchronize contacts stored stored in iCloud with contacts stored in Google / Gmail. Each list of contacts will remain independent of each other. On your iOS device, the individual contacts will be 'linked' between each other, but nothing is actually merged. Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 21:23

Here's a way that works effectively, but can be time consuming, so just warning all you guys.

First, you go to iCloud.com and sign in. Go to your Contacts, and select all of them by pressing Ctrl + A. Then, you press that little gear button in the lower left-hand corner and click Export vCard.

Now that you've downloaded your vCard file with all your contacts, you're probably wondering why there's only one file. I advise you not to open it. It will open this huge number of windows that you have to close one by one, which is especially tedious if you have a lot of contacts. I had to learn the hard way, so just a warning for you curious bunch that likes to click random things!

Anyway, that aside, go to Google Contacts and click that tab on the right that says More. Click Import, and it should tell you to go to the old Contacts page, so do that and click Go to old Contacts. Click the Import Contacts... button on the lower left-hand corner, and select your file that you just downloaded from iCloud. It should import all your contacts into your Google account. Yay!

Also, about duplicates, there should be a notification saying to merge your duplicates. You should probably do that. You can also merge duplicates in the new Contacts page by clicking that tab thing on the right.

If you are going to use the native Mail app for your iPhone or Mac, just go to Settings and disable contacts for your iCloud account. That way, if you add a new contact, it'll go straight to your Google account!

  • 2
    +1 This was the best answer. It does a 1 time syncing and then iCould contacts are out of the way forever.
    – Ankur Jain
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 23:04
  • Note that at this time (July 2016) you will need to do this in a non-Google Chrome browser since the export is busted in Chrome. Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 14:14

I have this setup too and using an Exchange account only for syncing contacts between Google and my iPhone.

The process is described here:


So I set up an Exchange account but ONLY syncing contacts.

Another video version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVEf-skW-Kg

  • Would this work even for non google app (a.k.a. regular free gmail)?
    – cregox
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 14:23

I have used SyncMan to do exactly this in the past. SyncMan offers bidirectional sync that will offer you the opportunity to confirm changes (definitely a plus when syncing two differing address books!). However, I don't use the bidirectional sync feature. Instead, I do the following:

  1. Add/Edit all my contacts only in Apple's iCloud Contacts
  2. Setup SyncMan to perform a uni-directional sync from iCloud to Google

This allows me to have my contacts accessible in Google and avoid any sync conflicts that may arise from bidirectional sync.

Give the software a try (they offer a thirty day trial) but before you do (and as with any new program) make a backup of your data:

  1. Open Contacts.app
  2. File > Export... > Contacts Archive...

NOTE: This solution requires you to use your Mac to sync to Google.


it's very simple if you are using a mac. just setup in Contacts both accounts - iCloud & Gmail and then drag and drop ;)

If you open Contacts program on your Mac and then go inside the settings you can add an account for google.com. Just give your google username and password and server name google.com

Now you can mark all contacts in the iCloud account in Contacs program and drag them to the Google account in contacts program enter image description here

  • 2
    Welcome to SE and thank you for your answer. Would you mind being a little more specific in the steps needed to keep iCloud contacts in sync with Google? Perhaps where you drag from and drop in? Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 23:10
  • This isn't very clear answer. I have Contacts in both accounts, but drag what to where? The question is not how to export one time, but how to keep them in sync.
    – progrmr
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 18:31
  • I think you have to learn a scadinavian language first :-)
    – meduz
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 12:32

A great way to do it is via a new third-party webapp ('ShuttleCloud') officially integrated now in Google Contacts.

Step 1:

Go to https://contacts.google.com

Step 2:

Under the side menu on the left go to 'More' then 'Import'. Select 'Other email provider' (where Apple is mentioned) and input your Apple iCloud address (you had to choose an @icloud.com username when creating your iCloud account, find it at https://appleid.apple.com if nowhere else), follow the prompts and it will neatly import all iCloud account contacts into Google Contacts

Step 3:

Google Contacts then conveniently shows you that some imported contacts may need to be merged with existing ones (maybe ones from an earlier sync). The interface is clean and successful and you can manually merge individual contacts or do all at once after perusing the list.

This is by far the quickest and cleanest method I have found thus far, finally in 2016.

  • Nice! Going to try out this method tonight. I wished there is an app to compare all of my contacts and see what are on the iPhone-only and what are in my Exchange-only. I don't think iCloud includes those contacts too?
    – CyberMew
    Commented Aug 16, 2018 at 5:08

It's actually quite simple. Just download the app entitled Contacts Sync from the App Store. With this app, you'll be able to quickly & easily transfer iCloud contacts to Google, and vice Versa. I downloaded several thousand in about 8 mins. Good Luck!

  • 1
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    – Allan
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 13:45

Not a sync, but simple one time import from Google Contacts to iCloud is possible without any additional tools on Mac.

Setup Contacts.app to Sync contacts on this computer grou with Google Account, then select all Contacts on this computer and export them as vCard, you can be sure - it shows in the filename how much contacts it exports.

Then select iCloud group and select File - Import, choose previous saved vCard file.

It shows you the duplicates, you can choose the policy of merging. After that all contacts will be in iCloud group.

  1. Switch On the Sync between your iPhone and iCloud by going to Settings > iCloud and switching Contacts ON. Be careful to check the iCloud website first to not duplicate or to remove a contacts that were still there and weren't used before. To make it easy, just delete all your contacts on iCloud website and then sync your contacts from your iPhone to iCloud by switching on your iCloud on from your iPhone again.
  2. After you finish syncing between iCloud and iPhone, log in to the iCloud website and enter your username and password, check the Contacts Number down below by scrolling down the menu from the right column of words (A, B, C… #) and check the numbers and compare it with your phone, it should be the same.
  3. Press the settings button on the bottom-left of the window on your computer. Choose Select All > Export. Then it should save the *.vcf file to the downloads folder.
  4. Log in to your Google Mail account and then go to contacts, then choose Import from a file, then search for the exported file on your machine and choose it, then the files automatically will be add inside the contacts folder.

Note: I understand that it's a little bit long way to do it but I'm sure that you will avoid duplication. You will find your contacts are up to date always from iPhone to iCloud to Google Contacts.


The major issue is that you need contacts in Google to use google services, like sending Google calendar invitations or sharing docs via Drive, and you need contacts in iCloud to use iCloud services, like Pages or sending an email from iCloud.com. Seeing as the two are in increasing competition with each other, they will not play nicely, nor do they have any reason to. Your best logical bets are to use a third party tool to keep the two in sync, or only update contacts in one place and run a manual export, one-way, from one to the other. Unfortunately, in this scenario, you pay for automation.

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