Using the Contacts app on your Mac has a lot of benefits, but with them comes the challenge of duplicate contacts that can as well cause a lot of chaos and eventually affect your user experience adversely. Duplicate contact entries are almost always found no matter what, making your address book messy. They may appear due to mistakenly entering contact details, or updating your contact backup list, or contact changing his or her name, phone number, email address, etc.

This post is dedicated to taking you through the various ways, processes, and procedures how to clean your MacBook Pro or Air, iMac or Mac mini from duplicate contacts.

duplicate contacts

Deal with Duplicates Manually

On your Apple computer, the Contacts app enables you to easily merge duplicate contacts and then totally delete the exact duplicate entries from your Mac. Use the “Look for Duplicates” feature for that:

  • Go to /Applications and then open the Contacts app;
  • Hold the Command key and then select Card menu;
  • From the Card menu, select “Look for Duplicates”. A search result will be listed;
  • From this list, select and fix the duplicates found in the Contacts app;
  • Then, select “Merge” to combine them into one;
  • Repeat this process about 3-4 times until no duplicate is found.

This process works well for removing duplicate contacts because it does not replace your original contact information, but only combines them. So, your boss’ new office number or friend’s new mobile can be added to his personal contact along with the email address and any other information you might consider useful, all on one card. The data can be unmerged in case of mistakenly combining different contacts. This can be done by simply clicking on the contact and selecting edit, then clicking the red button or Undo merge button shown along the details. As a result, the contacts will be automatically unmerged.

It is highly advisable to always backup your contacts on the time machine before beginning the merging process in case things go out of hand, and you need to revert to the former list.

At the same time, the “Look for Duplicate” feature has its downsides, which make it only partially effective in detecting and dealing with duplicated contacts. For instance, it identifies contacts with the same name only. It would not detect similar numbers with different names. This calls for spending quite some time on combining such contacts yourself.

In macOS and Mac OS X, contacts also sync through iCloud, therefore changes made will be reflected on all your devices (for example, iPhone and iPad) connected to the same iCloud account. You can also delete duplicates directly from your iCloud.

Hiding your Facebook, Gmail, and Yahoo contacts in your Contacts App is also a good option to prevent duplicates from building up on your address book. You can also prevent Gmail, Yahoo or Facebook from accessing the Contacts app. This helps to keep your Mac clean and organized because those apps self-update regularly thereby creating unnecessary duplicates that consume useful space on your Mac. If you want to do this, all you need to do is to open your Mac’s Contact app and then click on Groups, and then uncheck the Facebook, Gmail and Yahoo options there. Click on Done once you are done.

Another method to prevent, say, Facebook from accessing your address book is to open System Settings, click on Facebook and then turn off the Contacts option.

Merge entries on your Mac’s Contacts app with Scrubly

Scrubly is a great app that grants you the benefit of purging and cleaning out your contacts by automatically merging duplicate contacts on your address book. Scrubly is free for handling about 250 contacts; to deal with the larger number of entries, you will need to pay a considerable fee of $19.95 for one-time use or $39.95 per year. Before using Scrubly, make sure that you have synced them with your iCloud account.

Visit the Scrubly website and create a free account if you have less than 250 contacts. Then, select Mac’s address book option, name it and then download the Scrubly client to your Mac. Upon granting access to your contacts, the app will upload your contacts to the online Scrubly platform. You will have to pick between the Express Scrub and the Deep Scrub option. As the names imply, the former option means fast and superficial scan while the latter would last longer and go deeper under the hood. You can customize the scrubbing by either selecting the scrub for contacts with names, duplicate addresses, etc.

After the scan is over, you can easily deselect any of the contacts you don’t wish to merge. You can also select manually review the duplicates if you want to be completely sure of what you are doing. Once you are done checking the list out, select the ‘Auto Merge the selected contacts’ option. Voila – the mission is accomplished!