Transfer Contacts from OneDrive to New iPhone: A Guide


By Jason

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Just got a new iPhone? Congratulations! As exciting as unboxing your new device is, moving data from your old phone can be a headache.

One of the trickiest parts is ensuring all your contacts successfully transfer over. The last thing you want is losing connections with important people in your life!

This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to seamlessly transfer contacts from a OneDrive backup to your new iPhone.

Why You Should Transfer Contacts from OneDrive to Your New iPhone

Before we dig into the step-by-step instructions, let’s look at some key reasons for transferring your OneDrive contacts:

  • Maintain valuable connections – By transferring your contacts, you don’t have to worry about losing touch with friends, family, colleagues and others you care about.
  • Access info with one tap – Having all your contacts on your new iPhone allows you to quickly call, text, email or Facetime loved ones.
  • Sync data across devices – Storing contacts in OneDrive lets you sync them across multiple devices like iPhones, Androids, computers and tablets.
  • Safeguard against data loss – Backing up contacts to OneDrive protects you in case you ever lose or break your phone.
  • Simplify switching devices – Transferring OneDrive contacts makes switching to a new iPhone seamless, saving you time and hassle.

Key Benefits of Using OneDrive to Store Contacts

OneDrive deserves special mention here. As Microsoft’s cloud storage solution, OneDrive offers important benefits for contact backup and transfer:

  • Universal availability – OneDrive works seamlessly across iOS, Android, Windows and macOS devices.
  • Automated backups – OneDrive can automatically back up your iPhone contacts at regular intervals.
  • File sharing – Easily share contacts using OneDrive shareable links.
  • Reliable security – Your data is secure thanks to OneDrive’s enterprise-grade encryption and protection.
  • Generous free storage – Take advantage of up to 5GB of free OneDrive storage included with every Microsoft account.

Pre-Transfer Preparation

Completing a few quick preparatory steps will ensure your OneDrive to iPhone contact transfer goes smoothly:

Confirm Active OneDrive Account

First, confirm you have an active OneDrive account containing a recent backup of your contacts. If not, create a free OneDrive account and set up automated iPhone contact backups.

Microsoft provides helpful instructions for setting up OneDrive iPhone backups here.

Check iPhone Storage Space

Next, check that your new iPhone has enough free storage space to receive all your OneDrive contacts. The Contacts app will warn you if space is low during import.

You can view your available iPhone storage under Settings > General > iPhone Storage. Make room if needed by deleting unwanted apps and files.

Update Software

Before starting the transfer, update your new iPhone to the latest iOS version to avoid potential bugs corrupting data.

OneDrive also recommends updating to the newest OneDrive app from the App Store for maximum compatibility.

Use Stable Wi-Fi

Only transfer contacts when connected to a stable, high-speed Wi-Fi network to prevent interruptions. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks which tend to be slower and less reliable.

Step-by-Step Guide to Transfer Contacts from OneDrive to iPhone

Once you’ve completed the pre-transfer checklist, you’re ready to move your contacts over.

Follow these steps to smoothly transfer contacts from OneDrive backup to your new iPhone:

1. Install OneDrive App on iPhone

If you haven’t already, install the free OneDrive app from the App Store on your new iPhone. This allows you to access OneDrive files directly from your device.

2. Access Contacts Backup in OneDrive

Next, access your OneDrive account on your computer and navigate to the folder containing your contacts backup.

This is typically a CSV (Comma Separated Values) or VCF (vCard) file stored in the OneDrive Contacts folder.

3. Export Backup to VCF if Needed

Your iPhone can only import contacts using the VCF file format.

If your OneDrive contacts are stored as a CSV, you’ll need to convert the file to VCF first before transfer.

You can use free online converters or desktop apps like Outlook to convert from CSV to VCF format.

4. Send VCF File to Your iPhone

Once you have the OneDrive contacts backup in VCF format, send the file to your new iPhone using one of these sharing methods:

  • Email – Email the VCF file to yourself and open it on your iPhone
  • OneDrive app – Upload to OneDrive and access the file using the OneDrive iOS app
  • AirDrop – Wirelessly transfer the VCF file from a Mac to your iPhone
  • Other cloud services – Upload to Dropbox, Google Drive etc. and access via their iOS apps

Choose the file sharing method you find most convenient.

5. Import VCF Contacts to iPhone

After sending the VCF file to your iPhone, open it to initiate the import process.

You’ll be presented with two options:

  • Import All – Adds every contact in the VCF to your iPhone Contacts app
  • Import Select Contacts – Lets you pick and choose which VCF contacts to import

Choose whichever you prefer. Your OneDrive contacts will now be safely transferred to your new iPhone!

Alternate Transfer Methods

If you prefer not to use VCF files, there are two other ways to transfer OneDrive contacts to your new iPhone:

Sync Contacts Using Outlook

If you use Outlook as your primary desktop email client, you can synchronize your OneDrive contacts with Outlook on your computer, then sync Outlook contacts directly with your new iPhone.

To enable this:

  1. In Outlook, add your OneDrive account and sync contacts
  2. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Passwords & Accounts
  3. Tap Add Account > Outlook
  4. Sign in to synchronize Outlook contacts to your new iPhone

Just make sure to enable contact syncing in both Outlook and your iPhone settings.

Use Third-Party Contact Transfer Apps

Instead of wrestling with file conversions and sharing, specialized third-party apps like CopyTrans Contacts can simplify transferring OneDrive contacts to iPhone.

These apps will:

  • Automatically detect your OneDrive contacts online
  • Allow you to preview and select contacts
  • Seamlessly transfer chosen contacts to your new iPhone

Apps like these streamline OneDrive to iPhone contact transfers into a few clicks, so consider them if you need a frustration-free option.

Troubleshooting Common Contact Transfer Issues

Despite the best preparations, you may encounter a few hiccups when transferring OneDrive contacts to your shiny new iPhone. Here are some potential issues and fixes.

Some Contacts Didn’t Transfer Over

If some contacts are mysteriously missing after the transfer finishes, first double check that all contacts were included in your OneDrive backup file.

If some are indeed missing from OneDrive, you’ll unfortunately need to create a new backup and attempt the transfer again.

Contacts Transferred with Wrong Information

With a CSV export, formatting issues can lead to incorrect or missing contact details on your iPhone.

Always visually spot check contacts after transfer to catch any formatting problems. If found, you may need to delete the botched contacts and re-transfer the VCF file.

Duplicate Contacts After Transfer

It’s common to end up with duplicate contacts on your new iPhone after transferring from OneDrive, especially if you have multiple backups.

The good news is your iPhone has a built-in Merge Contacts tool to de-dupe contacts and combine all associated information.

Learn how to use it in this Apple support article.

iPhone Storage Full Error During Transfer

If you receive a storage full error during transfer, your new iPhone simply doesn’t have enough free space.

You’ll need to free up storage before resuming contact transfer. Delete large, unnecessary files and offload photos already backed up to OneDrive.

Contact Transfer Stuck on “Preparing to Transfer”

If the transfer stalls on “Preparing to Transfer”, first make sure your Wi-Fi connection is strong.

If your network seems fine, force close and restart the Contacts app. As a last resort, reboot both your iPhone and computer to refresh any stuck processes.

By the way, if you wish to transfer files from OneDrive to Google Drive or from Google Drive to DropBox, here are the top solutions for you.

Key Takeaways and Best Practices

Transferring contacts from OneDrive backup to your new iPhone is straightforward once you know the steps. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Always convert OneDrive CSV backups to VCF format before iPhone transfer
  • Double check all contacts transferred correctly afterwards
  • Use OneDrive’s automated backups to keep contacts updated
  • Transfer over Wi-Fi for maximum speed and stability
  • Consider third-party apps to simplify the process
  • Troubleshoot issues with de-duping, storage space or stalled transfers

Follow the tips in this guide and you can look forward to seamless contact transfers each time you upgrade your iPhone!

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about migrating OneDrive contacts to your new iPhone? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

Can I transfer OneDrive contacts to iPhone without a computer?

Yes, you can access OneDrive directly from your iPhone’s web browser, download the VCF file, and import contacts completely wirelessly. However, converting from CSV to VCF will require a computer.

How many contacts can I transfer from OneDrive to iPhone?

There is no set limit on number of contacts. However, larger contact lists will increase the transfer time. Make sure your new iPhone has enough storage space for all contacts.

If I get a new iPhone, will my OneDrive contacts transfer automatically?

Unfortunately no, you will need to manually transfer OneDrive contacts over using the steps outlined in this guide. However, any changes made to your OneDrive contacts after transfer will automatically sync to your iPhone.

How do I backup iPhone contacts to OneDrive?

Open the OneDrive app on your iPhone, select Contacts under the Backup section, and enable automated backups. You can also export your iPhone contacts as VCF, upload to OneDrive, then set automatic backups going forward.

How can I selective transfer only specific OneDrive contacts?

When importing the VCF file, choose the “Import Select Contacts” option to hand pick which contacts get transferred over.

What happens to my OneDrive contacts if I get an Android phone?

The major benefit of OneDrive is allowing smooth contact transfer between platforms. Simply install the OneDrive Android app and access your existing OneDrive contacts to pick up right where your iPhone left off.

Can I sync OneDrive contacts across multiple devices?

Absolutely! OneDrive makes it seamless to sync contacts on iPhone, Android, Windows PC and Mac devices. Just enable contact sync in OneDrive on all linked devices.

I hope this comprehensive guide helps you successfully transfer your valuable OneDrive contacts to your fantastic new iPhone. Here’s to never losing a connection again!


Skilled software testing specialist with expertise in comparisons and research, passionate about blogging, reviews, and creating video tutorials.