With the advent of Internet communication, the amount of contact information people have to remember has quadrupled. Phone numbers, email addresses, chat handles, usernames, aliases – needless to say, it can get complicated, fast. Thankfully, your device can store all of this and more in the Contacts app, which syncs across iOS to provide communication auto-completion across the board. To make sure your Contacts list is as up-to-date as possible, here are a few ways to keep things neat, organised and useful.

Import contacts

iTunes, in addition to syncing calendars, apps and email accounts, can also take care of your Contacts organisation. To sync your contacts, iTunes will require you to connect specifically with one computer. Syncing is also bi-directional – any changes made to a contact on your device will show up on the computer the next time you connect the two, and vice versa.

Use iTunes to sync contacts with Outlook, Address Book or Google

Sync with the Mac 

On the Mac, your device can sync contacts from OS X’s Address Book, an online Yahoo Address Book or your Google contacts. The first time you connect your phone to your Mac, iTunes will ask which contacts you want to import. You can choose to import every contact in OS X’s Address Book or specify only selected groups.

Yahoo and Google users can sync their contacts by selecting the respective Sync Contacts option for their service. Supply a username and password for the correct account and iTunes will take care of the rest. 

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Sync wirelessly 

You can synchronise your device’s contacts without having to connect to your computer. The best way to do this is to use Apple’s iCloud service. To enable over-the-air syncing, visit Settings, iCloud and tick Contacts to on. Alternatively you can use a Microsoft Exchange server (including Google, via the Google Mobile service). 

Once you’ve set up your contacts to sync, any changes you make on your iPhone or iPod touch will be reflected in the service you sync with – for example, your iCloud contacts on your Mac and on the Web, or your Exchange address book.

If you turn off mobile syncing later on, the synced contacts will be removed. You’ll need to either re-enable syncing or connect your device to your computer to restore them.

Your iCloud account can to sync contacts, ­email and more while you’re away from your computer

Enter contacts manually 

You can also add contacts to your device by accessing your Contacts list. Tap the Contacts button from the Home screen (or, on an iPhone, tap the Phone button, then select Contacts from the row of buttons along the bottom).

To create a new contact, tap the + sign at the top-right of the screen. A blank form will appear. Tap each section to enter the -appropriate contact information, including the name, company, number (or numbers), email address and website. But you’re not limited to the default list of contact fields (see “New Additions”). Tap Add Field at the bottom of the screen to access a list of additional -options, including birthday (or any important date), nickname, job, IM handle and a general Note field that you can use for any other details.

To delete a contact, tap the Edit button, scroll down and tap Delete Contact.

Tap in each field to add contact information while you’re on the go

Access an LDAP account

If you have an LDAP account, you can connect to it from your device. You’ll need the server address, a user name and a password. Go to Settings, Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Add Account, Other, Add LDAP Account. Enter your account information, tap Next to verify your account, then tap Save. The LDAP account will appear in your Contacts application in a new group. These contacts are stored on the server, not on your device, so you must be connected to the Internet when viewing and searching them.

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Locate contacts

In the Phone app, All Contacts alphabetically lists every contact (you can set it to sort by first or last name in the Settings screen). You can scroll up and down or use the alphabet running down the right side of the screen to jump to contacts starting with a particular letter. You can also look for someone by using the search bar at the top. Alternatively, you can perform a Spotlight search in the main Spotlight screen (swipe left of the first Home screen). The search results will include matching contacts, along with matching results in other categories.

If you have your contacts divided into groups and synced, you can also look through them using the Groups button.

Share a contact 

To share a contact on your device with someone else, select the desired contact, scroll to the bottom of the page, and tap Share Contact. You can choose from sharing via email (which will create a ¬new message with the information attached as a vCard (.vcf) file), or (iPhone 3G or later) via MMS, which will send the contact’s information in a text message.