What is a Good Way to have Separate Archive and Active Contacts Address Books?

I have over a 1000 contacts , many of them I keep for historical reference / sentimental reasons as we are no longer in contact.

I tried creating a Contact group called “Archived” to separate them from my active contacts, but there is no way to have them automatically excluded from say, searches or general browsing. I also tried archiving them to .vcard files, but then when I want to see them…well I have to re-import the vcard file.

What I’d like to do is have a separate contact folder for archived contacts. It would be similar to having multiple calendars except it would contain contacts.

For Contacts, I have Fastmail and iCloud services available. The only solutions I could think of, which aren’t ideal are:

  • Keep Archive in iCloud and active in Fastmail.
  • Keep Archive on my Mac( locally, not online), and active contacts in Fastmail

They aren’t ideal because, as I’ve discovered, different services support difference custom fields. Some are easier to move between hosting services than others. Compatibility between services is something I assumed until I recently moved from G Suite to Fastmail for Calendars/Contacts/Email. What a nightmare, lol. I’m still rebuilding my configuration as a lot of it was lost in the migration. I’ll be rebuilding it for weeks to come.

Yes, it’s a PITA to keep historic records of contacts by exclude from search. One minor thing I do to avoid having them clutter email contact auto-complete is to take the email address in contacts I no long want to correspond with and put it into the “notes” field, then delete the address in the rest of the contact.

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Archiving them to a single .vcard is a good idea. That will allow you to re-import all of them should you desire. And by opening the vcard in any text editor and selecting the info between START:VCARD and END:VCARD you can recreate an individual vcard for any single contact.

Then print a PDF of all your archived contacts as a quick reference. You can include any or all of the information on each contact.

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When we moved from Ohio to NY in 2017 I wanted to “reboot my contacts” so I did the following:

  1. Export each contact as its own vCard file.
  2. Saved vCard files to ~/Dropbox/Backups/vCards.
  3. Re-Added Family & Friends

As I found I needed to contact others, I could use Spotlight to search for them or just go to that folder and look for their card. You can also use QuickLook to just … um… look at them quickly… without importing them.

YMMV, but that worked for me.


@majorgear This is my system:

  • I actively use groups and so my contacts are in iCloud because google contacts does not implement contacts well.
  • I have my main iCloud account and a 2nd iCloud “archive” account.
  • on My Mac, I enable the “archive” for contacts. On my iphone, I exclude the “archive”. It’s pretty easy to turn on or off the second account for contacts.
  • I use CardHop (for ios and MacOS) to actively manage which account and group a contact can go to
  • You can also select which groups to view in contacts or CardHop
  • In Contacts on MacOS, you can move contacts pretty easily between groups and accounts, but sometimes it will add and not move.
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This is what I did , except with Fastmail accounts instead of iCloud. I haven’t tried Cardhop, though. Anything to make group management easier would be a plus.

Google contact Web interface is amazing, head and shoulders above Apple Contacts, in my option. I found it easy to search and organize contacts with their interface, great when you are working with hundreds of contacts at a time. Their adherence to standards however, isn’t so hot.

Cool! I assume Fastmail uses the CardDav standard. Cardhop is fantastic. I cannot be more happy with it.

The biggest problem I had with google contacts is that it doesn’t follow the standards. I extensively use groups and wish there was a way to do something like labels with groups.

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