A person holding an iPhone.

How to add photos to your iPhone contacts

Learn more about how to beautify the contacts on your iPhone by attaching a photo or photo to each one.

Photo: Jenny Oberberg/Unsplash

You keep a list of contacts on your iPhone, and you want to see a picture of every contact you talk to on the phone or communicate with through text messages. You can achieve this by adding a specific photo to their entry in the Contacts app.

First, you need a photo of that person. You can then add that photo to their contact entry, where you can edit it and apply specific filters. The image appears in the person’s contacts entry and appears on the screen during a phone call, text message, or FaceTime audio call. Here’s how this works.

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Add a photo or photo to an iPhone contact

First, you need a photo of a specific contact or contacts. You may already have one in your iPhone photo library. If not, you may be able to find one online or through social media. If you are still blank, you can simply ask the person to send you a picture of them. However you got the photo, save it to your iPhone photo library.

Next, open the Contacts app on your iPhone. Click an entry for a contact you want to add a photo or other photo to. You’ll see a generic image with the person’s initials. This is what you want to replace. Click the Edit link, then click Add Image below the current public image (Figure A).

Figure A

Choose a contact on the iPhone.
Choose a contact, and select “Add Photo”.

Assuming you have a photo of the person, click the Photos icon (second from the left in the top row). Browse to and select the person’s photo in your library (Figure B).

Figure B

Select and set a contact photo on iPhone.
Choose an image and make any necessary adjustments.

On the next screen, move the image with one finger to place it inside the circular frame. If necessary, use your two fingers to compress the image to shrink it to better fit the circle. After adjusting the image appropriately, click Choose (Figure C).

Figure C

Resize a contacts photo on an iPhone.
You can zoom in or out to get a better angle.

On the next screen, you can apply different filters to the photo. One filter lights up the image. Another adds more red. Another adds more blue. A fourth applies a black and white filter. After selecting the filter you want, click Done. On the next screen, tap Done again. Click Done again. The image now appears in the entry for this contact (figure d).

figure d

Add a filter to a contact photo on iPhone.
Add a filter to your contact photo.

A photo of a person is not always required. You likely have entries for companies and organizations in your Contacts app. In this case, you may want to have an image of a logo, building, or other image representing the business and then add it to the enterprise entry (Figure E).

Figure E

Choose a picture for an Acme Inc contact on iPhone.
Choose an image that you think represents the contact.

If you don’t have a picture or picture associated with it

If you don’t have a photo or image associated with it or can’t find it, there are other options. Select a contact, tap Edit, and then select Add Photo. If the contact is nearby, ask if they will allow a photo to be taken. If so, tap the camera icon to take a picture (shape and).

shape and

Take a picture of a statue to use as a contact photo on iPhone.
Take a picture to use as a contact picture.

If you still can’t get a picture or other photo, tap on the smiley face icon and choose from the huge selection of emojis available via iOS. After choosing an emoji, tap on the style title to choose a background color. When finished, click Done (shape g).

shape g

Side by side screens for iPhone contact, bar emoji, and same contact with emoji used as the contact photo.
Choose an emoji to apply.

Alternatively, click on the pencil icon to create an image by typing your own text up to two characters long. Tap the Style title, and choose a background color. click done (shape h).

shape h

iPhone connection with default image is initials RM with gray background changed to MC with red background
Create a photo with your initials and a favorite color.

There are still more options. Swipe the screen down to the Memoji section and select the Memoji you’d like to add to this contact’s entry. Click See More to view more Memoji. Swipe down to the More section, and select one of the predefined emojis. Click on the style title to select the background color (first figure).

first figure

Choose a dog memoji for an iPhone contact.
Choose a Memoji to apply.

You can always change the associated photo or image. Open the contact entry and click Edit. Click Edit below the current photo. Now choose a different image, emoji or other image, and follow the same steps to add and apply the image (J . shape).

J . shape

Side by side screens for a contact on iPhone, anamorphic image of a man's face and contact now with anamorphic image as the contact image.
Choose a new image to apply.

After you have added the appropriate photos or images to as many of your contacts as you like, now is the time to see the photo in action. The next time you get a phone call from that contact, you’ll see the person’s picture on the call screen. Receive a text message from the person, and you will see the image on the messaging screen. Receive a FaceTime audio call from the contact, and their picture will fill the screen (figure k).

figure k

Receive a text message from the person, and you will see the image on the messaging screen.  Receive a FaceTime audio call from the contact, and their image will fill the screen
Receive a text message from the person, and you will see the image on the messaging screen. Receive a FaceTime audio call from the contact, and their image will fill the screen.

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