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Add photos to your iPhone contacts

Learn how to beautify the contacts on your iPhone by attaching a photo or image to each contact.

A person holding an iPhone.
Image: Jenny Ueberberg/Unsplash

You keep a list of contacts on your iPhone and would like to see a photo of every contact you speak to on the phone or via text. You can achieve this by adding a specific image to their entry in the Contacts app.

First you need a photo of that person. You then add that photo to their Contacts item, where you can customize it and apply specific filters. The photo appears in the person’s Contacts item and appears on the screen during a phone call, text message, or FaceTime audio call. Here’s how this works.

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Add a photo or picture to an iPhone contact

First, you need a photo of a specific contact or contacts. You may already have one in your iPhone photo library. If not, you may be able to find one online or through social media. If you still come up empty, you can just ask the person to send you a picture of them. However you obtain the photo, save it to your iPhone photo library.

Then open the Contacts app on your iPhone. Tap the entry of a contact for whom you want to add a photo or other image. You will see a general image with the person’s initials. That’s what you want to replace. Tap the Edit link, then tap Add Photo below the current global image (Image A).

Image A

Choose a contact on an iPhone.
Choose a contact and select Add photo.

Assuming you got a photo of the person, tap the Photos icon (the second from the left on the top row). Browse to the person’s photo in your library and select it (Figure B).

Figure B

Select and adjust a contact photo on iPhone.
Choose a photo and make the necessary adjustments.

In the next screen, move the photo with one finger to place it inside the circular frame. If necessary, use your two fingers to pinch the photo together to resize it to better fit the circle. After you have properly adjusted the photo, tap Choose (Figure C).

Figure C

Scale a contact image on iPhone.
You can zoom in or out for a better angle.

In the next screen you can apply different filters to the photo. One filter brightens the image. Another adds more red. Another adds more blue. A fourth applies a black and white filter. After selecting the desired filter, tap Done. On the next screen, tap Done again. Tap Done again. The photo will now appear in the entry for that contact (Figure D).

Figure D

Add a filter to a contact picture on iPhone.
Add a filter to your contact image.

A photo of a person is not always required. You probably have listings for businesses and organizations in your Contacts app. In that case, you may want to include a photo of a logo or building or other image that represents the company and then add that to the organization listing (Figure E).

Figure E

Choose an image for the Acme Inc contact on the iPhone.
Choose an image that you think represents the contact.

If you don’t have a photo or associated image

If you don’t have or can’t find a photo or associated image, there are other options. Select a contact, tap Edit, then select Add photo. If the contact is nearby, ask if a photo can be taken. In that case, tap the camera icon to take a photo (Figure F).

Figure F

Take a photo of a statue to use as a contact image on iPhone.
Take a photo to use as a contact picture.

If you still can’t get a photo or other image, tap the smiley icon and choose from a wide variety of emojis available through iOS. After choosing an emoji, tap the Style heading to choose a background color. When you’re done, tap Done (Figure G).

Figure G

Side by side screens of an iPhone contact, a Barner Pole emoji, and the same contact with the emoji used as the contact photo.
Choose an emoji to apply.

You can also tap the pencil icon to create an image by typing your own text of up to two letters. Tap the Style heading and choose a background color. Tap Done (figure H).

figure H

iPhone contact with default image initials RM with gray background which changes to MC with red background
Create an image with initials and a preferred color.

There are even more options. Swipe down the screen to the Memoji section and select a Memoji to add to this contact’s entry. Tap Show more to view more Memoji. Swipe further down to the More section and select one of the predefined emoji. Tap the Style heading to select a background color (Figure I).

Figure I

Choose the dog memoji for an iPhone contact.
Choose a Memoji to apply.

You can always change the associated photo or image. Open the contact’s entry and tap Edit. Tap Edit below the existing image. Now choose another photo, emoji or other image and follow the same steps to add and apply the image (figure J).

figure J

Side by side screens of an iPhone contact, a distorted image of a man's face and the contact now with the distorted image as a contact photo.
Choose a new photo to apply.

After adding the correct photos or images to as many of your contacts as you want, now is the time to see the photo in action. The next time you receive a call from that contact, you will see the person’s picture on the calling screen. Receive a text from the person and you will see the image on the message screen. Receive a FaceTime audio call from the contact and their photo fills the screen (figure K).

figure K

Receive a text from the person and you will see the image on the message screen.  Receive a FaceTime audio call from the contact and their photo fills the screen
Receive a text from the person and you will see the image on the message screen. Receive a FaceTime audio call from the contact and their photo fills the screen.

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