Contacts: Changing the Country Format for Each Card

| TMO Quick Tip

If you know people from many different places around the world, the Contact app’s default country setting may be frustrating. After all, it’s tough to force an address from, say, France into fields meant for the United States. And if you’re printing out mailing labels, you want addresses from everywhere to be properly formatted with each section in the correct order, right? It’s no good to look like a doofus when you’re sending out your Christmas cards.

Fortunately, there’s a way to set a different address format for each contact instead of having to use one default country forever. To do this, select a contact card, and choose Edit to make changes to it. Then click on the contact’s address header field (usually labeled “home” or “work”):

When you do, you’ll get a pop-up menu from which you can change that header, but down at the bottom is the option we’re looking for. It’s labeled Change Address Format.

Hovering on that will give you a massive list of countries. Pick the appropriate one, and the fields in the address will change to match that country’s format.

If the contact in question is a world traveler himself, you can even use different country formats for each of his addresses on the same card.

And of course, if you want all of your cards to default to a different address format, you can switch that in Contacts > Preferences > General.

Finally, note that this isn’t something that’s new to 10.8—we’ve had this ability since approximately the dawn of time. However, I find that not many folks know you can do this, even so! 

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Your tips are always pertinent and not so obvious to find.

Besides, regarding Contact I still wonder why it is so hard to format phone number.  Maybe this could be for one of your upcoming tip.

The formating issue I have with contact is that on, the only way for not having something like this 8881234567 but something like (888)123-4567 is by unchecking the “Automatically format phone number” option in the preference (which would be expected to be the opposite.  Idenpendently, iOS Contact show to correct format.  But still, as soon as you got an extension to the phone number, all version of Contact fail to show organized number and always ends up being 88812345671212.


I think I found a bug in this tool… When I change an address to a particular format, that address is copied and overwrites the next contact’s address if it has one. I have lost a few addresses tonight… Need to report this issue now.

Melissa Holt

Hi there SeaBeast,

This Apple Support document may be of use to you (specifically the part about “soft pause” and “hard pause”).

Hope that helps!

Melissa Holt

Hey tkid,

I’ve definitely not seen that behavior (and I did lots of testing for this article). Yes, please report it to Apple, and I’m sorry this tip caused you trouble. :(



Hi Melissa,

My issue doesn’t relate to composing with an iPhone but rather to use Contact as a contact book.  It is a huge flaw for Apple to have a Contact book showing phone number like this 88812345671234 rather than (888) 123-4567 #1234.

As for, I found that the phone formatting work only when US is selected as the country but not Canada.  But we have the same phone format in both country…

Melissa Holt

Hey SeaBeast,

If you use the pause/wait symbols in the Contacts app, it’ll format properly there, too. A comma means “pause”; a semicolon means “wait.” So if you type this in the Contacts program?


?it’ll format like this:

(256) 236-5432;567

?which is both human-readable and capable of being understood by a mobile device.



“123 La Rue Faux, 75008 Paris?”
I’m sorry Melissa, but I’m not falling for that.  There is no La Rue Faux, or even Rue Faux in the 8th Arrondissement.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and opine that there is no La Rue Faux anywhere in Paris.

Are you being faux with us?

Melissa Holt

iJack, I most certainly am not. I can assure you that once I lived on La Rue Faux. I ate croissants and drank Bordeaux and?did other things as well. Yep. True story.


I believe ya. grin

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