How to use iCloud to sync Mail, Contacts, Calendars and more

Getting started with iCloud

One of the first things most people want to do when they get a new Apple device is make sure their mail, contacts and calendars are setup. The most popular services many people use to sync this information comes from Google and Microsoft. However, Apple has continued to push iCloud forward and it is arguably the best option for those who use multiple Apple devices.

If you just purchased your 5th iPhone or you are new to the platform, this guide will help you use iCloud to get some of your most important information setup on your new device.

How to Create Contact Groups on the iPhone

Organizing contacts into groups can help to locate specific contacts faster with iOS. Unfortunately, the stock iOS Contacts app does not have built-in support for creating new contact groups. While existing groups can be accessed directly from iOS, new groups must be created and populated with contacts by using iCloud.

iCloud web start

This process will only work if iCloud is enabled to sync with the iPhone under Settings -> iCloud -> Contacts. To begin, access the iCloud website at and sign in using the same Apple ID and password that is connected to your iOS device. Once logged in follow these steps:

Add iPhone Contacts to the Spotlight Screen

Pull down on the iOS 7 home screen and Spotlight reveals an empty text field titled "Search iPhone". While this can be a helpful feature to find something in a hurry, developer DarkMalloc had another idea. Why not make the Spotlight screen even more useful by adding favorite contacts into the mix?

QuickContacts shortcut Spotlight

Jailbreakers can grab the tweak QuickContacts for $1.99 and do just that. Once installed, there are no options to configure. The tweak simply adds four contact shortcuts directly to the Spotlight search screen. Pull down on the home screen and the contacts are revealed, then swipe from left to right if you need to use the Search iPhone field.

Organize Your Contacts with Smart Merge

There is nothing more annoying than duplicate and incomplete contact information on your phone, especially now that people are relying on Siri to access their contacts for various reasons. Smart Merge is an iPhone application that promises to clean up your messy Contacts app.

Smart Merge

The app will hunt down duplicates in your Contacts app so you can merge them into one. Smart Merge also allows you to backup your contacts, sync your contacts between multiple devices, and locate incomplete contacts without a names or phone number. The name of the app also suggests you can merge your Facebook and Linkedin accounts.

How can I add a custom label to iPhone contact numbers?

The iPhone Contacts app provides several labels for numbers, such as main, mobile and work to identify different lines. What if you need to add a label not included in the list, to identify multiple mobile lines or a land line for a contact?

You can add a custom label to any number by tapping the Edit button while viewing the contact. Touch the label to the left of the phone number. Scroll down to the bottom of the list of labels, and tap Add Custom Label. Enter the custom label text and touch Save.


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