I had a Contact Group on my iPhone4 that was not showing up in my Outlook. I just wanted to delete it but couldn’t find any way to do that!! If this is your issue, perhaps this post will help.

The frustrating reality is that you cannot add/edit/delete contact groups directly on your iPhone without downloading an app. Some of those apps create more problems than they solve, especially if you sync with a computer. Without an app you must sync with a contact manager such as Microsoft Outlook on your computer in order to add/edit/delete iPhone Groups.

I use Outlook 2007. The first thing to know is that what your iPhone calls a “Group”, your Outlook calls a “Folder”.  Even though you can create “Groups” in Outlook, they don’t sync to your iPhone at all.  iTunes strips them out during the sync process.  They will still exist in your Outlook, but are non existent on your phone. Adding insult to injury, sometimes Outlook does not show all of your contact “Folders” by default. 

Here’s how I found mine and solved my problem:

Open Outlook and go to your Contacts.  If you use the Outlook Navigation Pane, under the “Current View” section click the radio button next to “By Location”.  If you don’t use the Navigation Pane (or you’re not sure what it is), just click the “View” drop down menu (up near the top left side of your screen), point to “Current View” and choose “By Location”.  You should now see the mysteriously hidden “Folders” in Outlook that correspond to every “Group” you see on your iPhone. If this works for you (you now see folders you didn’t see before), please read on.

Make sure you move the contacts to another folder in Outlook before you delete the folder!!!!! On your iPhone, groups are just subfolders of your main contacts list. No matter what groups a contact appears in on your iPhone, that contact can always be found in your main contact list.  This is not always the case in Outlook, particularly if you created the contact on your iPhone and it is in an iPhone Group. Outlook won’t create a duplicate contact when you sync, so these contacts will only exist in the Outlook Folder corresponding to the iPhone Group, not in your main Outlook Contacts Folder!!  Be careful.

In Outlook it is easy to drag and drop contacts from folder to folder.  If a contact already exists in the destination folder, Outlook will ask if you want to add a new contact (create a duplicate!) or update the existing contact.  It is best to choose ‘update existing contact’, but note that Outlook will update and possibly overwrite what it determines to be the oldest version with information from the newest version of the duplicate.  The good news is that Outlook actually shows you both versions and displays what will be added or changed on the one you’re keeping. Take time to look!

As a side note, if you have managed to duplicate your contacts in Outlook and want to quickly deduplicate them, the drag and drop feature in Outlook is a great way to do it.  Just create a new empty Outlook Contact Folder.  Go into the folder that contains duplicates, select all of the contacts (Control A), and then drag them to the new empty folder you created.  As they move to the new folder, Outlook will start seeing the duplicates and will ask you what you want to do. Choose ‘update existing contact’ and presto, no more duplicates!  Again, be careful!! Use what Outlook shows you to make sure you keep the right version.

Once you’re finished, select all contacts you dragged into the new folder, and drag them all back to your main Contacts folder so they’ll sync properly with your iPhone.  Then delete the folder you created so you don’t wind up with unwanted “Groups” on your iPhone.  Remember, Outlook “Folder” = iPhone “Group”.

Please feel free to leave feedback.  Tell me if this helped with your issue or, if not, what you did and whether or not it worked. 



  1. Thank you very much. It is very helpful. I finally found the folders. However, MS Outlook 2013 pop up a message saying this is read only folder, so I am not able to copy contact to main folder.

    Thank you


  2. After I copied all contacts to new folder, I found that that hidden folder can not be deleted because it is a read-only folder.

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