Smart technologies Apple built into iOS and macOS, collectively referred to as Proactive, can conveniently suggest contacts from data found in apps and use them to great effect in several places.
Incoming call from an unknown number? If Proactive sniffs it out in an email and guesses who might be calling, it’ll put that info on the calling screen.
But some folks find iOS’s proactivity a little bit on the distracting side with unconfirmed contacts popping all over the place. Thankfully, you can turn them off with just a few taps, and here’s how.
About suggested contacts
Suggested contacts are derived from mail and other apps on your iPhone that you have yet to confirm, as opposed to those stored in Contacts which appear as relevant people in Spotlight. Though a temporary item in Contacts, a suggested contact won’t get automatically stashed in Contacts unless you manually confirm it.
Suggested contacts appear on the calling screen, in your recent calls, within Contacts, as part of Mail autocomplete, when adding people to a calendar event, or when receiving a phone call, SMS, or iMessage.
When you receive a phone call from someone who is not in your Contacts, but with whom you might have already communicated (ie. you exchanged emails), you might see the message “Maybe: FirstName LastName” on your phone, similar to the image at the top of this post.
Why turn them off?
I personally take great productivity value in iOS’s proactivity, but also understand some people are confused as to what dark magic surfaces these suggestions. Other people will object to iOS scanning their email and sniffing out contact information.
Should your friends or family members for any reason start complaining about suggested contacts appearing on their devices, consult this tutorial to prevent unconfirmed people from showing up on their devices.
IMPORTANT: In line with Proactive’s strong focus on privacy, contact suggestions come from on-device data, not server logs. And because they’re enabled on a per-device basis, suggested contacts might differ from one device to another.
How to disable contact suggestions on iOS
Do the following on each iPhone, iPod touch and iPad:
Step 1: Launch Settings.
Step 2: Navigate to the Contacts section, then tap on Siri & Search.
Step 3: Toggle the switch labeled Find Contacts in Other Apps to the OFF position.
“Turning this off will delete any unconfirmed contact suggestions and prevent contact suggestions from appearing in apps,” reads the feature description.
How to disable Mail contact suggestions on Mac
Do the following on every Mac you own:
Step 1: Open the Contacts app.
Step 2: Choose Preferences from the Contacts menu.
Step 3: Click the General tab.
Step 4: Untick the box next to Show contacts Siri found in Apps.
You will be warned that disabling the feature will “delete any unconfirmed contact suggestions.” Click the blue button labelled Turn Off, or press Enter to confirm.
What happens when I disable contact suggestions?
Here’s what happens when Contacts Found in Apps is disabled:
- Your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Mac stop rummaging through on-device email messages, looking for contacts with phone numbers.
- Incoming phone calls from unknown numbers will show up as “Unknown” instead of as educated guesses, aptly suffixed by “Maybe:”.
- When adding people to an email message, unconfirmed contacts will no longer show up in Mail autocomplete.
- Folks included in previous emails or calendar events will no longer appear as suggestions when you start adding people to an event in the Calendar app.
Suggested contacts are on by default after the iOS install.
Currently, contact suggestions do not show up within the Contacts web app on iCloud.com nor do they appear on your Apple Watch.
Remember, we appreciate your feedback and ideas for future tutorials so do keep ’em coming at [email protected].
How do you like iOS’s proactive contact suggestions derived from Mail and other apps? Are they a useful productivity boost or one of iOS’ biggest annoyances?