Mac: Repair broken contacts database

The Contacts app on the Apple Mac shows you local, iCloud and other contacts. However, it can happen that something goes wrong, contact information is missing, individual people and companies are not displayed or the like. You can read in the following instructions how to repair a defective contact database under macOS. Basically, this boils down to forcing the system to recreate the overview and thus eliminate errors. Before you try the procedure on your Mac, iMac, MacBook or other Apple computer, you should make a backup (at least of the contacts) - just to be on the safe side.

If you want to repair a defective contacts database on your Mac, the instructions here will help you. Changing contacts and their e-mail, address, telephone number, etc. also works again.

If you want to repair a defective contacts database on your Mac, the instructions here will help you. Changing contacts and their e-mail, address, telephone number, etc. also works again.

Background: Help with locally saved contacts

If the faulty contacts in your overview on the Mac are iCloud content, then the instructions below are of little use. To re-catalog cloud-based contacts, you have to remove the corresponding account (iCloud, Exchange, Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc.) and register it again. Then a completely new query of the contacts linked to the service is triggered and the database is updated accordingly. If you need help with incorrectly displayed or missing contacts that you only manage on the Mac, you can continue with the steps shown below.

Cloud-based contact details such as B. You can update the contacts copied via the iCloud by logging out and logging in again. Screenshot source: Apple.com

Cloud-based contact details such as B. You can update the contacts copied via the iCloud by logging out and logging in again. Screenshot source: Apple.com

Repair broken contacts database on Mac

Now let's get to the instructions. The process is pretty simple and you don't even need that Port. In effect, it's just a matter of deleting the Contacts app's directory files to force them to be recreated. If you want to create a backup of your contacts beforehand, simply select from the menu bar filing -> Export... -> Contacts archive and then save the appropriate file.

Then you close the contacts app and do the following:

  1. First you have to maneuver yourself to the address book or AddressBook folder. The fastest way to do this is to open the Finder in the menu bar Go to -> Go to the folder ... chooses and then ~ / Library / Application Support / AddressBook entered and confirmed.
  2. In the AddressBook folder you look for these files and delete them:
    addressbook-v22.abcddb
    addressbook-v22.abcddb-wal
    addressbook-v22.abcddb-shm
  3. Then you open the contacts app and see how (or whether) the contact list is updated
You have to delete these three files so that the contacts database on the Mac is recreated. A backup of the entire folder can be made beforehand.

You have to delete these three files so that the contacts database on the Mac is recreated. A backup of the entire folder can be made beforehand.

If nothing changes or something goes wrong, reset the folder named above with the backup created.

Why the procedure can repair the Mac Contact Database

The Contacts app on the Mac saves the contact details individually as vCards. In order to provide a quickly usable list of contacts, these individual vCards are cataloged in a database. If you now make changes to a single contact entry, both the catalog database and the individual vCard must be adapted. If the database is defective for any reason, the changes cannot be saved. Other errors can also occur. By deleting and automatically recreating the above-mentioned files, the contact database is created from scratch from the existing vCards. In this way (ideally) old mistakes are eliminated. 

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8 comments

  1. W. Tannler says:

    I have a problem with the contact database and have therefore deleted the 3 files as described in your instructions. However, the DB has not been rebuilt, it has remained empty. What is the reason?

  2. jon frolich says:

    i have the same problem (os big sur 11.4 on macbook pro 2017).
    Contacts crashed when creating a new group. no i-cloud. files as removed in instructions, new files are created automatically, but nothing happens.
    keep the newly created ones or insert the old ones that have been removed?
    and then what to do?
    best regards. happy

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hi Jon! Unfortunately, I can't give you a recipe for that. I would save everything once and then try what helps. VG, Jens

  3. jon frolich says:

    if I only knew what would help ...
    but thanks for your effort

  4. Achim Stoehr says:

    Thank you!
    My MacBookPro no longer displayed the birthdays of friends who had been in my address book for a long time in the calendar. The birthdays of people who only recently got into the address book, however, easily. All my attempts to fix this have been unsuccessful. Only after deleting these three files and synchronizing them with my iphone does everything work again. Thanks!

  5. Michael Grewe says:

    Maybe a little off topic. I have a problem entering contacts. If I'm not fast enough, the app on the Mac jumps back out of "editing mode". It seems to be sync related and annoying. I haven't found a solution yet, except that I press save immediately after entering the name, then enter the phone number, save again, etc. It looks like a sync process is causing the entry to be aborted. Has not been fixed in recent versions. I have multiple contact sources. Gmail and Icloud. I would prefer to "copy" all contacts on Gmail and have linked or linked data as a complete contact without linking. Is there a best practice?

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hi Michael! I would install macOS over it. Unfortunately, I can't help you with Gmail contacts. I don't use Gmail... :(

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