How do I retrieve phone numbers I deleted?

We all make mistakes and accidentally delete important phone numbers from our phones from time to time. Losing contacts can be frustrating, especially when it’s the number of someone important like a close friend or family member. Thankfully, there are several ways to try to retrieve recently deleted contacts from your phone.

Check Your Phone’s Recycle Bin

Most smartphones have a ‘recycle bin’ or ‘recently deleted’ folder where deleted files are stored temporarily before being permanently erased. On an iPhone, this is called the ‘Recently Deleted’ album and stores deleted photos for 30 days. For contacts, deleted numbers are stored here for up to 25 days before being completely erased from the device.

To view your iPhone’s Recently Deleted album:

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Scroll down and select the ‘Albums’ tab
  3. Scroll down and tap ‘Recently Deleted’

If you see your deleted contacts here, tap ‘Recover’ to restore them back to your phone. Just remember they’ll only be stored here temporarily before being permanently deleted.

Restore from an iCloud Backup

If your deleted contacts no longer appear in the Recently Deleted folder, your next step is to restore them from an iCloud backup. iCloud automatically backs up your iPhone periodically when connected to WiFi, unless you have disabled this feature.

Restoring from a backup will retrieve deleted contacts, provided you backed up your phone after the numbers were saved, but before you accidentally deleted them. Here’s how to restore from iCloud:

  1. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud
  2. Tap Manage Storage > Backups
  3. Select the desired backup
  4. Tap Restore to restore your device data and settings from the backup

Once restored, your deleted contacts should reappear on your iPhone.

Use a Contact Recovery App

If you don’t have a backup that contains the deleted number you need, third party contact recovery apps may be able to help. These speciality apps scour your iPhone’s memory and databases to find recoverable data remnants left behind when contacts are deleted.

Some examples of contact recovery apps to try include:

  • FoneDog Toolkit: Recovers deleted contacts from iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices. Both a free trial and paid version available.
  • iMyFone D-Back: Claims to recover deleted iPhone contacts going back multiple months. Free trial allows preview of recoverable contacts.
  • EaseUS MobiSaver: Retrieves deleted contacts and call logs from iOS and Android phones. Has a free trial version.

To use a contact recovery app:

  1. Download and install the recovery app on your computer.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your computer using the USB cable.
  3. Open the recovery app and scan your device for recoverable data.
  4. Preview and selectively recover deleted contacts back to your phone.

For the best chance of recovering recently deleted contacts, use a recovery app as soon as possible after the deletion occurred.

Retrieve from

If you used iCloud to sync your iPhone contacts, there is a chance you can recover deleted numbers directly through, Apple’s iCloud web interface.

To view your contacts on

  1. Go to and login with your Apple ID
  2. Click Contacts
  3. Look for contacts that have been deleted from your phone but still exist in your iCloud account
  4. Click the info (i) icon next to the contact name and select Add to iPhone

This will sync the deleted contact back to your phone from iCloud.

Restore from an iTunes Backup

For iPhone users who sync contacts through iTunes on a computer, you may be able to restore deleted contacts from an iTunes backup file stored on your computer. Connect your phone to the PC or Mac you normally sync with and:

  1. Open iTunes and select your iPhone
  2. Go to Summary > Restore Backup
  3. Select the desired backup file containing your contacts
  4. Click Restore to recover deleted contacts from the backup

As with iCloud, this will only work if you backed up your phone after adding the contact(s) and before deleting them.

Check Email Accounts

If you emailed a contact whose number was deleted, see if you can recover the phone number from that email correspondence. Open the email account you normally use on your phone and try searching for emails exchanged with the contact whose number was lost. With luck their phone number will be visible in email headers or body text.

You can also try searching your Sent folder for emails you sent to that person or emails where you may have shared their contact info. If found, their phone number can be retrieved and saved again.

Call Your Carrier

As a last resort, you can try contacting your cell phone carrier to see if they have your deleted number(s) on file and are willing/able to share them. Be prepared to verify your account ownership with information like your phone number, account holder name, home address, last bill amount, etc.

Note that carriers may only retain deleted contact information for a short window of time (if at all), and some may refuse to share it due to privacy policies. But for very recent deletions, calling your carrier could turn up the number you need.

Avoid Accidental Deletion in the Future

Once you’ve recovered those important deleted contacts, make sure you have redundancies in place to prevent another mishap in the future. Here are some tips:

  • Back up your contacts regularly: Use iCloud or iTunes syncing to keep backups you can restore from if contacts go missing again.
  • Export contacts to your computer: Occasionally export a contacts backup file to store on your computer as an extra safeguard.
  • Sync contacts across devices: Enable contact syncing across your iPhone, iPad and other Apple devices so duplicates exist.
  • Use a contacts management app: Apps like CopyTrans Contacts can store a synchronized backup of your contacts automatically.
  • Be more careful when deleting: Double check you are deleting the right contact(s) before confirming deletion.

Accidents happen, but being cautious and keeping redundant copies of your contacts in multiple places can help minimize the headaches caused by deleting important phone numbers by mistake.


Retrieving deleted contacts from your iPhone is often possible if you act quickly and use the right techniques. First, check your Recently Deleted folder and restore contacts from there. Failing that, restore from an iCloud or iTunes backup, use a third party contact recovery app, or retrieve numbers from As a last ditch attempt, call your carrier or try finding the number in email records. Also be sure to implement redundancy measures like regular backups to avoid repeat incidents of deleting contacts in the future.