iOS 9 Suggested contacts calling screen iPhone teaser 001

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.

iOS 9 suggested contacts iPhone screenshot 001

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.

Contacts app Preferences 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 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?

  • Antzboogie

    This is a very creepy feature that I would like to completely obliterate and delete from my iPhone!!

    • All the data stays on your phone though, how is it creepy? Literally no human sees the data, only your phone sees the data. It doesn’t send the data anywhere.

      You may as well delete all your contacts because you wouldn’t want your phone knowing your friends’ numbers!!

  • BlackBeltAuntie

    Will this also turn off that annoying crap in Photos where it suggests random people from your contact list as if you actually know them? If not, how on earth can I get it to stop? I thinks all my family photos are random people who have sent me emails for the past 25 years and have ended up in my contact list. Who thought THAT was a good idea?

  • Riley Freeman

    i got a text from someone thats not in my contacts and and it said “maybe ashley” This person’s name was actually ashley and they had a non IOS device. It’s pretty trippy seing this and i dont really understand how or why it figured it out. To add more info, i do uber and this person left their phone in my car so it wasnt even their phone and have never met them before

  • CA

    Me turning this feature off on my device won’t hide the suggestion of who I am to others when I call, I assume?

    How can I minimize my name popping up on others devices? Should I just not include my phone number in any emails I send?

  • Richard Walters

    Love this article … but, different topic (although perhaps related) … I’m getting aggrevated over my MBP’s iMessage app refusing to autocomplete to find my daughter from starting to type her name. It’s the ONLY contact that will not pull up … I have verified that her contact (1) does exist in my contacts; (2) is shared in iCloud contacts list and (3) is listed on my phone as well. I can communicate with her if I type her phone number, or scroll though the list of contact threads in the iMessage app to find an old thread where I was communicating with her. But, this makes no sense … her contact does pull up on my iPhone from typing the first few letters … but typing her name (even fully) list no matching contact for her on my MBP, even though her contact is listed there. Anyone have clues about why this is not working ? How to fix it ? It’s getting aggrevating … thanks,