How to sync contacts with WhatsApp

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If you need to sync contacts with WhatsApp, you are not alone. Over 2.4 billion people and over 5 million businesses use this popular messaging app.

In fact, WhatsApp is the number one mobile messaging app in over a hundred countries, being present in 180 countries in 60 different languages. So, it’s just a couple dozen countries where some other mobile messaging app is the most popular one – for example, WeChat in China, and Telegram in Russia [hello, Comrade from FSB, do you copy me?]

Joking aside, with just over 8 billion people populating this Planet, 60% of those having access to the internet, and some portion of humanity being too young for messaging apps, 2.4 billion active users is impressive.

Why Sync WhatsApp Contacts?

The convenience of having all of your contacts synced across devices and communication channels is multifold and multi-dimensional:

Time Saving Advantage

One of the most obvious advantages is saving time. OK, you will invest a couple of minutes to sync your contacts, but after that – you are all set. You don’t need to spend precious time copying and pasting phone numbers across channels. They are properly refreshed regularly without much effort or time investment from your side.

Mental Effort Saving Mode

This may not relate to the younger audience, but as you get over 50-s, the focus is not quite the same. It’s not rare that people forget what they meant to do being distracted by another matter in the process. When you import contacts to WhatsApp, you can just share silly memes or serious files from inside the application—without increasing your chances to be distracted by other apps on the way, as you copy and paste contact details.

Mobile To Desktop Contact Sharing

You may have some of your network on WhatsApp and some on Gmail. To complicate things even further, you may have the messaging app installed on the mobile device only. But you need to shoot a calendar invite to this contact. This is another popular case when people love having their contacts shared across devices.

If you too don’t like putting that Sherlock hat to trace down the needed contact across all the communication channels, this guide on how to sync contacts to WhatsApp will come in handy.

How to Allow WhatsApp to Access Contacts on Gmail

Let’s get it straight: there is no one-click button to allow a sync between your Gmail Contacts and WhatsApp. However, if your Google contacts are synced with your phone contacts [be it an iOS or Android device], WhatsApp can be granted access to them, enabling a better experience with those among your contacts who also use WhatsApp.

We have already provided our readers with tap-by-tap guides on:

  • How to sync Gmail Contacts with iPhone address book
  • How to sync Gmail Contacts with Android contacts

This is the beginning of the journey for anyone who needs to further sync WhatsApp contacts. Now let’s consider the second part of the process—how you can allow WhatsApp to access your phone contacts.

WhatsApp Contact Upload—What Is It?

According to the WhatsApp official help center webpage, you can allow the messaging app to access your phone’s contacts library.

From there on all contacts are subdivided into 2 categories:

  1. The users who use WhatsApp on the number that is part of your phone contact library.
  2. The users who didn’t sign up for WhatsApp services and respective data processing.

The sync between the phone library and WhatsApp takes place about once a day or can be triggered manually. The refresh can also happen when one of the contacts in your phone address book finally joins the global leading messaging app.

This is how the company managed the data for both above-described categories:

  1. If the owner of a contact in your phone library has already explicitly granted the messaging app rights to process their personal data, synching such contacts with WhatsApp will allow for a better experience. However, WhatsApp will only use the phone number, but will not use other personal data, like email addresses and even names.
  2. If your contact number is now a WhatsApp user, but you enable contact upload functionality on your device, such a phone number will be encrypted and stored as part of your phone book. It will only be matched with the hashed number when the owner of this number becomes a WhatsApp user. You can read a more detailed description of how Non-Users’ data is treated here.

Now let’s see how you can ensure that your phone device contacts are synced with WhatsApp.

How to Sync Contacts with WhatsApp On iOS Devices

This is how to allow WhatsApp to access contacts on your iPhone:

  1. On your iPhone go to Settings
  2. Scroll down and click WhatsApp
  3. Under Allow WhatsApp to Access make sure to toggle the radio button to active state next to Contacts

Alternatively, if your iOS mobile device and WhatsApp contacts are not in sync, you will get a notification when starting a new call or chat in WhatsApp:

The notification reads:

Allow access to your phone contacts so you can chat with them more easily. Allow Access

Click Allow Access to upload contacts from your mobile device to the messaging app.

How to Sync Contacts with WhatsApp On Android Devices

If you want to allow WhatsApp to gain access to your Android mobile phone contact library, follow this algorithm in your telephone:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Click Accounts and Backup
  3. Click Accounts
  4. Click WhatsApp
  5. Click Sync Account
  6. Toggle the radio button next to Contacts to the active state
  7. Or if you already have the sync, click three dots in the upper right corner and Sync Now

Now you know how to sync contacts to WhatsApp on both iOS devices and Android.


The convenience of having your phone address library synching with your major messaging apps translates into many benefits, like time-saving and overall efficiency. On the other hand, strict personal data protection laws ensure that companies don’t abuse the data you share with them – so when you share this data with the messaging company, they encrypt it.

As WhatsApp is a leading messaging app with many cool features, it’s in the users’ best interest to get a smooth experience by sharing contacts across mobile device accounts and libraries. 


How to Manually Add New Contacts on WhatsApp?

Users can add contacts manually to WhatsApp:

  1. With a new chat: Open WhatsApp > Choose Chats tab > Tap New chat > New contact > create and save the new contact.
  2. From a group chat: tap and hold a message from a non-contact > click More > select Add to Contacts > Choose Create New Contact or Add to Existing Contact.

Why is My WhatsApp not Syncing Contacts?

Major reasons why WhatsApp is not syncing contacts include: WhatsApp account not being synced in the phone settings, being in the wrong international format, or belonging to a Microsoft Exchange account with respective admin-set permissions.

Why Have I Got Duplicate Contacts on WhatsApp?

If the same contact number is saved in different formats, it will be treated as two different contacts by the WhatsApp messaging app. An example of a correct international format number is +1408XXXXXXX, where +1 is the US country code, 408 is the area code and XXXXXXX is the phone number.

1 Comment. Leave new

  • Easter Collins
    March 28, 2023 7:33 pm

    Def WhatsApp is huge in South Africa. I don’t even know anybody who is using any other messenger here – we are all in love with WhatsApp. And syncing contacts is a good idea of course – saves me a few minutes here and there.


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