Tech Tip: Apple iOS – Messages app displaying contacts by phone number instead of by name

If you find that the Messages app suddenly displays existing messages and texts by phone number instead of by name AND the affected contacts are in your iOS “Contacts”, there are some steps that you can try in order to resolve the issue.

Tip: Be sure to backup your iOS device via iTunes or iCloud before making any changes to your device.

Note: You may need to adjust these steps depending on the version of iOS and the iOS device that you are using.

  • Turn your iOS device OFF then ON – Turn off your iOS device by holding down the power button for several seconds until the “Slide to Power Off” button appears then slide to power off your iOS device. Wait a couple of minutes then turn on your iOS device by holding down the power button for a few seconds. After your iOS device starts up, check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Reboot your iOS device – You can reboot your iOS device by holding down the power & home buttons simultaneously until the Apple logo appears (for most iOS devices) OR by holding down the power button and down/lower volume button simultaneously until the Apple logo appears (for iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus). After your iOS device reboots, check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Toggle Messages Off/On – In iOS 10, go to Settings | Messages. Toggle the iMessage button to the off position, wait 10-15 seconds, then toggle the button back to the on position (On = Green). Check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Toggle Contacts Off/On – In iOS 10, go to Settings | Contacts. Go to Accounts and select the account(s) for which your contacts for the Messages app are connected to. Within that (those) account(s), toggle the Contacts button to the off position, wait 10-15 seconds, then toggle the button back to the on position (On = Green). Check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Update a Contact – Go into your Contacts and update a contact then check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Reset Network Settings – In iOS 10, go to Settings | General | Reset | Reset Network Settings. Follow the iOS prompts to reset the network settings on your iOS device. This will reset the network settings for your iOS device including resetting Wi-Fi, cellular and VPN settings. After the reset, you will need to restore your network settings. Once your network settings have been restored, check to see if the issue has been resolved.
  • Delete all existing texts and messages from the Messages app – While this may not be an ideal situation, consider this a “last resort”. Delete all existing texts and messages from the Messages app then ask one or more of the affected contacts to send you a new text or message to see if new messages are properly displaying the names of your contacts vs. their phone numbers.
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