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iPhone messages not showing contact names

Yesterday imessage on my iphone was showing the contact name when someone texted me. Now it is showing only the phone number. I have not knowingly changed any settings. What do I need to do to change it back to showing the names?

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iPhone 5, iOS 10.2.1

Posted on Mar 2, 2017 2:05 PM

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Posted on Jan 4, 2018 10:48 AM

Go to Settings > Contacts > Short Name and change it to something else ('First Name Only' or 'Last Name Only'). Issue should be fixed by now. Revert the Short Name setting back to it's original value if you want.

119 replies

Mar 2, 2017 2:28 PM in response to Demo

Thanks for your help. I followed your directions and 3 of my messages have names with them but most don't. I just had my son test text me and his message shows up as a number instead of his name. Scrolling through my messages I have one from yesterday that showed the name yesterday and today it shows a number.

Sep 6, 2017 8:19 AM in response to Diana.McCall

Diana.McCall wrote:


Hi dsewanee. Try making a trivial edit to one of your contacts. Then restart the device, power off, not just sleep.

That is exactly what worked for me very recently when I had to backup and re enter my contacts from an Exchange email account that I was losing at work.


I used a third party app from the App Store to backup and restore the contacts and then made a minor edit to one contact and all of the names reappeared rather than the phone numbers.

Sep 20, 2017 4:10 AM in response to dsewanee

None of the above worked but I just got it fixed. (The numbers instead of names happened to me because I signed out and into icloud trying to fix something)


So I went to Settings > Contacts > Short Name and then turned the Short Name in this menu off, and looked at my messages and it was fixed, and then turned short name on again. (I also first played about with orders for the Sort Order and Display Order in Contacts before going to short name, not sure if this had an influence)

Sep 20, 2017 9:06 AM in response to dmarie05

My problem of missing names replaced by phone numbers got fixed when I changed the entries in my contacts to the standard formula: + countrycode (areacode) phonenumber. Problem has occurred when some new numbers were added for the overseas contacts. After the correction all US numbers look like this: +1 (555) 555-1212 and the overseas numbers look like this: +49 555 111 222 for mobiles and +49 55 555 11 22 for the stationary numbers.

Jan 26, 2018 4:56 PM in response to dmarie05

I had a similar issue occur after a migration from iPhone 6 to iPhone X. The settings were set a specific way under the iCloud settings for the iPhone 6 and it will transfer not just the data, but the settings too. When I logged off from my old device out of iCloud. The numbers on the messages for the iPhone X showed without names. Although the names and contacts were under the contacts app.


This is what I did. Settings > Name > iCloud > Contacts. Contacts were enabled. So I disabled. An re-enabled while selecting merge. This did the trick!

Aug 11, 2018 10:17 AM in response to ApolloKpan

Very similar - what doesnt make sense is that on my iPhone, I see names/faces. On my MBP, I see phone numbers. I see similarly confusing randomness on my iPad. It leads me to the conclusion that the cloud is NOT the cloud... ALSO, I just noticed that when trying to add the number to an existing contact, the number is already there, but the issue is:

  • A person in my contacts has msged me
  • Their number is showing up as: 1234567890
  • Their number in my contact is: +1 (123) 456-7890

iMessage cannot see that this is the same number, so I get bewildering messages from people that are in my contacts and all I see is a phone number... I am constantly diddling with contacts when I switch devices because my iPhone X might say Anne Marie, but my laptop says 1234567890 (sometimes with the person's picture!), then neither of my iPads has any idea who it is..

I have had lots of Apple devices (starting with the iPhone 3s and iPad 1 back in 2009), and perhaps over time the whole thing has become a hot, steaming mess, but it's just annoying enough to frustrate me, and not painful enough to take a day (or a week) to blow everything away and start over...

Dec 27, 2017 10:11 AM in response to Demo

This is what worked for me. I was working on another issue where I signed in and out of iCloud on iPhone 7. Tried a number of turning things on & off. Making the simple edit to one anything in my contacts and restart restored everything in iMessage that had just a phone number rather than displaying the persons name. 😀

Mar 12, 2018 7:52 PM in response to Topguy

My issue was caused by having my corporate email account deleted from my iPhone. Since all my contacts were sync'd to my corporate account, I lost contact names after deleting this account. I managed to recover them from an older iPhone in which the corporate account had not been deleted. I used an App to make a copy of the contacts then brought them over to my new iPhone. No longer sync'd to the corporate account and names show up in messenger instead of phone numbers.

iPhone messages not showing contact names

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