How to delete read-only contacts on iPhone: quick and easy ways

Some iPhone users report that when they try to remove some contacts on their device, there is an error message reporting that “not all contacts were deleted”. In this article, you’ll find out how to fix this problem and how to delete read-only contacts on iPhone without problems.

The root of the problem: why do you get this error message?

“Read-only” means that it is a file that is kept in the system and cannot be removed from there, e.g., you can look through it, but you can’t delete it. Thus, if one or more contacts on the device are protected by your iPhone’s system or another program on your phone, you’ll see the “not all contacts were deleted” message.

There are many reasons for this problem. For instance, the iPhone contacts can be synchronized with another device, such as an iPad, and thus being unavailable for you. Also, the contacts can be protected with a password and the device does not have access to them and cannot delete them.

How do I delete a contact from read-only?

Here are the most efficient ways that will solve your problem of “not all contacts have been deleted” and help you to delete read-only contacts quickly. You should choose the method considering your situation and according to the reason for your problem. Figure it out before taking any steps.

Turn off iCloud contacts on your iPhone

Find the iPhone Settings on your Home screen and select it. Choose the Apple ID option, then find iCloud. Scroll until the Contacts section and tap to turn it off. Then select Delete and restart your device.

Once you do it, open the iPhone Settings and find the Contacts section again. Turn on the iCloud contacts and then try to delete the unnecessary contacts. It’s one of the easiest ways that can help you permanently delete all the contacts you don’t need.

Delete read-only contacts using the iCloud site

Open the site on the Internet and log in using your Apple ID and your password. Access contacts, and you’ll be able to see your phone’s contact list. Watch it and find those you want to delete. Click the Edit button, select the contacts you want to delete, and select Delete contacts.

By the way, you are free to use the recovery app or your Apple ID to bring back accidentally deleted iPhone contacts. It restores the removed contacts quickly, both with and without iPhone backup.

Removing the WhatsApp contacts

If your contacts on iPhone are synchronized with WhatsApp, as some iPhone users say, you won’t be able to delete the WhatsApp contact. Thus, you need to delete read-only contacts from this app and clear the chat messages as well. Here is an instruction to help you out.

Open WhatsApp on the Home screen. Find the Chat Tab with the contact you want to delete. Swipe the screen from right to left and tap the More button. Then delete the chat in the main menu of the app. You should take into account that when you delete read-only contact from WhatsApp contacts, you’ll delete contact from your iPhone as well.

By the way, if you accidentally delete WhatsApp chat content that you need, Whatsapp Pocket will help you to save and export the WhatsApp chat data you want to preserve. Use it to keep the media files, chat messages, and other data of your chats. If you have problems with updating read-only contacts in WhatsApp, tap the green icon of the message and find the Select Contact option. Tap three dots in the top-right corner and select Refresh.

Disable the iCloud contacts sync

This method will help you to get rid of the synced contacts – one of the reasons for the “Not all contacts deleted” problem. Pick up the Settings icon on the Home screen. Tap on your name and go to the iCloud section. Tap Disable iCloud Contacts. Then delete read-only contacts that you don’t need (consider that they will be preserved on your iCloud account).

Check whether your contacts are deleted using the Contact app. If they don’t exist anymore, you can enable the iCloud Contacts and delete the contacts. But if they still exist, it means that they are kept in another account, for instance, in a Gmail account or Facebook Messenger. You should find out where they are and delete them.

You may look at which account synchronizes contacts in Settings. If you’ve lost your contacts, you can recover them using iCloud Contacts.

The contacts app

This way can also help you easily to delete read-only contacts from the Contacts app. Follow the instruction below.

Find the Contacts app on the Home screen. Open it and find the contact you want to delete. Smash the three lines that you’ll find in the upper-left corner and choose the Change Contact Status option. Then tap Delete Contact.

Deleting read-only contacts from Google

You’ll need some third-party apps to delete read-only contact from Google, as there are no tools for that on iPhone. You can install some contact managers, such as Outlook. It will help you to delete synced contacts manually from your device. If you want to automatically delete read-only contacts, such apps as Clear Contacts will help you out.

Deleting encrypted contacts

One of the reasons for the disability to delete contacts is that they are encrypted, e.g., protected by a password. Thus, if you want to delete contact like this, you have to get rid of encrypted data. If you have the iPhone Contacts app, you can access contacts through it, just tap the Encrypt option. Decrypt the contacts you want to delete. After, you’ll be able to delete contacts easily.

Frequently asked questions

If you still experience any problems with deleting read-only contacts, you may find the solution in this section. Read the FAQ and get your answer.

Why I can’t delete a contact from my iPhone?

The contact you want to delete may be kept in “Read-only” folder and is protected by iPhone privacy. It is protected with a password in order to restrict access to the contacts. That’s why, firstly, you should access the contact you want to delete.

Why do my iPhone contacts say read-only?

Sometimes you can experience different issues caused by privacy issues of the iOS. If your data is protected by the iPhone, you’ll have difficulties deleting it. Privacy is also related to contacts.

The system protects read-only contacts. It restricts access to them in order to protect it. The consequence is that you cannot remove read-only contacts when you don’t need them anymore.

Why can’t I delete a contact read-only?

As it’s said above, multiple reasons can become obstacles in deleting read-only contacts. In most cases, your contacts can be connected with another device or with some account, e.g. Google account or another email account. Disabling the synchronization of the read-only contact can solve your problem.

How to change read-only contacts?

You can change some contacts in your phone book in order to read them or send them somewhere. One of the methods is to open the Outlook Contacts app and tap the File section. Then open the New and come to the Mail Contact. You’ll see the chat box where you should type the name, phone number, and email address of the contact you need. Finally, tap OK.

Aldo, you can try one more method. Once again, open the Outlook app and pick up the File. Tap Edit Contact and you’ll be able to do it. Click Edit for every contact you need and make necessary changes.

How to delete hidden contacts?

There is a possibility to hide contacts on the iPhone. For that, you should press the contact and tap Hide. But if you want to unhide the contacts, open the Contacts and tap three lines in the upper-left corner. Find the section Show all hidden contacts. You’ll see all your iPhone contacts. Select them and press Unhide. Once you unhide them, now you’re free to delete contacts.

How to unlink the contacts?

You can use several methods to delete the contacts from your iOS device. The Contacts app, iPhone settings, or Apple Mail will be useful.

  1. For the Contacts app, open it, press the contacts and hold them until they start shaking. Finally, drag them to the bottom of the screen.
  2. For iPhone settings, select General and click Privacy. Select the Contact Info and choose Remove from the device.
  3. For Apple Mail, select the email you want to delete and tap Edit in the top-right corner. Click on three lines in the lower-right corner of the display and tap Remove from the Address Book.

Why did deleted iPhone contacts come back?

Sometimes the contacts that seemed to be deleted can go back. It can be annoying, as iPhone users report, and do not allow saving space storage. The general reasons for that are:

  1. The device hadn’t confirmed the removal, so the contacts haven’t been really deleted.
  2. The device deleted only part of the information, and this part still exists in the iPhone’s memory.
  3. Sometimes the changes that you make in the contacts (phone number, name, etc.) do not synchronize with the account connected with your device’s email account or some apps.


Finally, we’d like to emphasize that before trying to solve the read-only contact problem, you should figure out the reason. It’s important to know why you can’t delete read-only contacts because different problems require different solutions. Understand why your iPhone sends you the “Not all contacts have been deleted” notification, and you’ll find the way out.

Follow the instruction above, and you’ll manage to delete read-only contact quickly and efficiently. Good luck with that!

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