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Jul 30

Resolved: Outlook.com/People contacts not syncing to iPhone

Resolved: Outlook.com/People contacts not syncing to iPhone

Although I have been recommending people to migrate to Outlook.com as an alternative to Gmail (You can read more about that here: How to: Migrate from Gmail to Outlook.com (previously Hotmail.com & Live.com). Basically having ActiveSync and Customs Domains (until the end of July 2014) as the big selling points), it turns out it is not a perfect service either. I say either as Gmail also caused me headaches at times. Talking about issues syncing contacts to your iPhone, Gmail also had its fair share with Gmail over Exchange (MS Push) stops working when you upgrade to a new iPhone topping my list. What can I say?

Getting back on topic. I was working with Outlook.com’s contacts (AKA People) when I realized something was broken. I had just migrated from Gmail to Outlook.com so the contacts on my phone kept coming from Gmail, but once I broke that relationship I noticed my Outlook.com copies were not syncing properly (or at all). Following the migration steps on this post: How to: Migrate from Gmail to Outlook.com (previously Hotmail.com & Live.com) I let Microsoft handle the import process and as far as I am concerned it went smoothly.

It turns out Microsoft does not simply copy over the contacts from your Gmail account but it actually links them. It does a copy that continuously syncs with Gmail so that your contacts on both systems are the same. This however, results on Outlook not using its version as the source/latest/etc. So pretty much it internally marks them as copies and decides it should not sync those contacts. As you can imagine, once you shut down your Gmail or simply disconnect your account it will result on missing contacts from your phone.

To resolve this you need to break the link between your Gmail and Outlook.com account and create a regular contact/copy on Outlook.com. To do this you can simply follow these steps:

  1. Export your Gmail contacts to a .csv and save them to your computer. If you don’t have your Gmail account any more, try to export from Outlook.com and see if that exports the Gmail copy it has.
  2. Log into Outlook.com and disconnect the link between Google and your Outlook.com account entirely.
    1. On the top right side of your screen click on your name and choose edit profile.
    2. Under your name on the top right side you will see the services you are connected to. Click the Google icon and choose Disconnect Entirely.
  3. After you have disconnected your Google account from Outlook.com check your contacts.
    1. If the Google contacts are still there, delete them all. You should be able to sort them out. Remember not to delete everything you see as some of those contacts might already been saved only on Outlook.com.
  4. Once your done clearing out your contacts, you can import the CSV you downloaded on step 1.
  5. You’re done! If the contacts still haven’t synced you can turn off your Outlook.com Contact’s on your iPhone for a few seconds and turn it back on to force a sync.

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