The Apple iOS and iPadOS Privacy icon on a grey background

Few iPhone privacy issues go deeper than access to your Contacts list, which exposes your private web of relationships to a third party, which can then compare the list to its records or potentially share it with others. Here’s how to see which apps can access your contacts and how to grant or revoke access as well.

To get started, open “Settings” on your iPhone.

Tap the "Settings" icon on iPhone

In “Settings,” tap “Privacy.”

In iPhone Settings, tap "Privacy."

In “Privacy,” tap “Contacts.”

In iPhone or iPad Privacy settings, tap "Contacts."

Next, you’ll see a list of every installed app that has requested access to your contacts in the past. Beside each one, you’ll see a switch that is either turned on or off. If the switch is set to “on,” the app can access your contacts. If it’s set “off,” the app does not currently have access to your contacts.

A list of apps that have requested access to your iPhone or iPad contacts in Privacy Settings.

At any time you can grant or revoke access to your contacts on a per-app basis by tapping the switch next to the app in this list.

To grant or revoke access to your contacts, flip the switch beside the app's name in the Privacy settings list.

Keep in mind that even if you give an app access to your contacts from this list, the app may not automatically know about this change in Settings. If that’s the case, you might be able to get an app to consider your contacts list again by forcing the app to restart. In some stubborn cases, uninstalling then re-installing the app may work.

If you revoke an app’s access using this feature, the app will not have further access to your contacts the moment you flip the switch. But the app may have already uploaded your contact list to its servers, in which case that aspect of your privacy is still in the hands of the company running the app. If you need to remove access to your contacts there, you might be able to do so in the app itself, by contacting the company that runs the app, or by looking in account management settings on services such as Facebook. Good luck!

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Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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