How Can I Transfer Contacts from my Old iPad to a New Mac? [Ask MacRx]



Sometimes when moving to a newer computer, you realize only after the old system is gone that you’re missing some data. With the proliferation of iPhones and iPads, cloud based services can help transfer things like Contacts and Calendars if incomplete:

My old Mac Pro was running OS X 10.4.11 and my new MacBook Pro came with Snow Leopard. Using Migration assistant just about everything except Contacts transferred correctly. Now the Mac Pro is across the country in NV and I am near DC. The only thing that has my old Contacts is my iPad. How do I transfer my old Contacts from the iPad to the new MacBook Pro without losing them when I sync?


Hi Clint,

One way to get the existing contacts off your iPad is to setup an account with Google or Yahoo, then add this to the iPad. Enable the Sync Contacts option, and when prompted choose Merge Contacts to put the items on the iPad into the online service. You can then add the same account to your MacBook Pro and pull the contacts into the Address Book via the cloud server.

If you update your MacBook Pro to Lion and your iPad is already running iOS 5, you can also merge and transfer the contacts via Apple’s iCloud service.

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Readers, have any additional suggestions on this topic, or corrections/clarifications on the advice above? If so, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

  • Anthony

    You can use a program called diskaid, which is kind of nice because it allows you to extract nearly anything out of an iDevice.

  • allantodd8

    You can sync your old iPad using free version of SyncMate to sync your contacts from the old device without connecetion to iTunes.

  • Jordan Clay

    My problem is contacts won’t sync to my address book on my Mac. If I create a new contact on my phone  I have to manually add them in on my Mac.  They will sync fine to the iCloud services. 

    I have double checked my settings in iTunes, and for some reason they will sync from address book to iPhone but not vice versa

  • Dilbert A

    Adam, I would think it would be easier to just resync your iPad to iCloud or even iTunes, no?
    As a side note, I’d never suggest sharing any information with Google, as their primary business is data mining.

  • Dilbert A

    Did you double check your iCloud settings on your Mac? 

  • Adam Rosen

    Reimporting the contacts via iTunes would depend on whether iTunes on the new Mac still sees the iPad as a device it has previously sync’ed with.  If yes, then that will work.  If no, then iTunes will see the iPad as a new device and ask whether you want to wipe all info from it and start over.  Since Clint mentioned that his data migration was only partially successful, my thinking was that using a cloud-based service would remove this variable from the equation.

    If the iPad is already running iOS 5 then iCloud would be an option.  If running iOS 4 you would need to sync with iTunes first to perform this update, bringing us back to the possible problem above.

  • Dilbert A

    I see now. Thanks Adam.

  • Paul Urmston

    About 3 days ago I had my Macbook Pro in the shop as the hard drive died.  I lost everything.  Worse, My External drive also failed the day after (yeah, I know… fate, right.)

    Anyway, I was really lost.  No idea what to do, and I had tons of photos, contacts on my iPad and iPhone and no idea how to get them off.

    Then I remembered I have a Dropbox account.  I could sync everything to there, and then simply back to my mac.

    Happy Days!!

  • Adam Rosen

    I didn’t know of this program, looks very handy indeed.  Thanks for the tip.

  • agathacathy

    It’s really a very easy thing, you just need to use an iPad to Mac tansfer to solve this. I always use the software on amacsoft, it works very well and easy to use. By the way you can also use it to transfer other kind os files like movies, music etc. Wish it help!