How to Control Contact Sharing With Apps in iOS 18 & iPadOS 18

The contact sharing screen while setting up a new app in iOS 18.

Ever felt uneasy granting apps access to your entire contact list? You’re not alone. While some apps need contact access, the all-or-nothing approach has always been a privacy concern. Fortunately, iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 introduce a game-changer: granular control over which contacts an app can see.

Apple’s latest update finally gives you the power to selectively share contacts with specific apps. This under-the-radar feature, overshadowed by flashier WWDC24 announcements, is a massive win for privacy-conscious users. Here’s what you should know.

Why You Should Give Apps Limited Access to Your Contacts

If you’ve used your iPhone or iPad for some time, you’ve probably come across various apps requesting access to saved contact data. These apps may only work if you allow that, but there’s no guarantee what they might do with the information.

Some applications use contact data to build networks or identify phone numbers in their databases, which isn’t ideal when sensitive details like names and addresses are involved. Malicious apps could also misuse the information for identity theft or fraud.

That’s why being able to control contact sharing in iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 is such as big deal. Like managing photo permissions from last year, you can specify the contacts you feel comfortable sharing with an app and be done with it.

How to Control Contact Sharing With Apps in iOS 18 and iPadOS 18

Time needed: 2 minutes

You can use the Settings app in iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to control contact sharing for apps that are already installed on your iPhone or iPad. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Settings app and tap Privacy & Security

    The iPhone's Settings app with the Privacy & Security option highlighted.

  2. Select the category labeled Contacts.

    The Contacts option highlighted in Privacy & Security.

  3. Tap on an app that has requested access to your contacts.

    An app highlighted in the Contacts permissions screen.

  4. Enable the Limited Access option.

    The Limited Access contact permission selected or an app.

  5. Tap Edit

  6. Select the contacts you want to share (or tap Select All, uncheck the contacts you don’t want to share), and tap Done.

    Selecting contacts for an app on iPhone.

  7. Tap Done again to save your changes. To edit the contacts, return to the same screen and select Edit Selected Contacts.

Things are even easier when you install an app that requires contact access for the first time. Just tap Continue on the permissions pop-up, select Select Contacts, and choose the contacts you want to share. You can manage the contact-sharing list later through Settings > Privacy & Security > Contacts.

The Select Contacts option highlighted while setting up an app on iPhone.
Image credit: Apple
Note icon NOTE
You can control contact access for all apps that request contact information, even if the apps haven’t been updated for the new system software.

iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 also have other privacy-oriented features, such as hiding apps with Face ID and a dedicated Passwords app.

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