How to Remove Duplicate iCloud Contacts from Outlook for Windows

This post walks you through the step-by-step process of removing duplicate iCloud contacts from Windows Outlook using the Scrubly duplicate contact remover tool. There are quite a few steps, but don’t be nervous, this process is the safest way to get the job done.

The ability to sync information between multiple email platforms and mobile devices today is incredible. You can enter a new contact on your PC and have it show up on your iPhone in minutes. The picture you add to your mom’s contact on your iPad gets added to her contact on your PC. It’s all kind of amazing.

The dark side to syncing, however, is the high risk of creating duplicates. No matter how hard you try to keep your data nice and organized, duplicates are bound to appear. The address book today is a powerful tool that not only stores a name and phone number, but also stores everything from name, address, and phone number to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites for each contact. You can even save home pages, pictures, birthdays, and special notes for each person. Overall, it’s a ton of information organized into a single interface.

Quick Overview of Removing Duplicate Outlook iCloud Contacts

Follow the detailed steps below, but if you want to dive right in, here are the quick overview steps to follow:

  • Turn off iCloud syncing on your Windows Computer
  • Create a backup of your iCloud contacts as a common sense precaution in the event something goes sideways along the way.
  • Depending on the other devices you are also syncing with iCloud, you want to turn off iCloud sync for those contacts as well and delete them from each device. You will re2sync your devices after uploading a clean set back to iCloud.
  • Create a new local Outlook contacts folder and then copy and paste your iCloud contacts to this new folder.
  • Sign up for an account on Scrubly.com
  • Install Scrubly software for Windows Outlook
  • Run the scrub process to clean up your Outlook contacts
  • Once clean, download your scrubbed contacts back to Outlook
  • Once you verify the contacts in the temporary folder are good, select all your iCloud contacts and delete them. I know, deleting contacts is scary, but since we backed them up earlier, this is totally safe and necessary for the new contacts to get over to the server. Make sure iCloud sync is off on every device syncing to this account before continuing.
  • Once the deletion process is complete, move the new contacts from your temporary folder into the iCloud folder. When this is done, you can delete the temporary folder, as it is no longer necessary. For a more detailed explanation, continue reading below for exact step-by-step instructions along the way.

Keeping Up With Your Contacts

It’s not until you start linking your contacts with Facebook, Twitter, mobile, and every other service you use that duplicates start to show up. Maybe you entered Facebook and Twitter for your friend into one contact and their phone number into another. Maybe you created one for your mom’s email and another contact with her address. Whatever the case, duplicates can show up quickly, and if they go unabated, your nice clean address book becomes a trash heap, with multiple duplicates and nonsense cluttering up your lifeline to friends and family.

Enter Scrubly. This app helps clean up your address book and gets it running like a Cinely tuned engine. You might say, “Hey, I have iCloud. Won’t a contact scrubber mess with it and ruin my contact list?” To that I say, “Now that wouldn’t make for a very interesting article, now would it?”

Scrubly works great with contacts synced to iCloud with a little help from you. Basically you need to turn iCloud sync off before scrubbing your contacts with Scrubly. It’s easy, and I’ve got pictures to show you how.

First Things First

When using Scrubly for Outlook, it is important to turn off iCloud sync before doing anything else. This stops your contacts from duplicating more or wreaking havoc on the other devices you sync. Once the scrubbing process is complete, you can re-enable iCloud. Here is how you disable iCloud sync for Windows.

(Note:these instructions apply to Windows 7 and Outlook 2010, but the steps are similar for other’versions.)

Turning iCloud Sync Off

  • First, make sure you close outlook completely. This includes right clicking the icon in your system tray and closing the application if it is still present after clicking the close button inside the Outlook window.
  • Next, click the Start button. When the Start Menu opens, click the Control Panel item.
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    Windows Control Panel in the Start’Menu

  • Once the Windows Control Panel loads, Click Network and Internet section.(Note: this step applies if you are in Category view. If you are in icon view, skip to the next step.)
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    Windows Control Panel in category view

  • Click on the iCloud icon to go into iCloud account settings. 1

    Network and Internet settings

  • Once the iCloud account window loads, click the Sign Out button on the bottom left corner of the window.
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    iCloud Control Panel

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    Sign Outof iCloud

  • When you sign out, you will be left with the iCloud sign in window. You can close this window for now.

Backup Your iCloud Contacts

Important: Since you are modifying your iCloud contacts, it is important to create a backup of your iCloud contacts before moving forward. This is a smart precaution in the event you need to restore your contacts later. To do this, head over to http://iCloud.com in your Internet browser, log in using your Apple ID and password, and click on Contacts.
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Contacts on iCloud.com

When your contacts load, click the gear icon in the bottom left corner of the window. In the menu that appears, click the Select All item. This will highlight all the contacts in your list.

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Select All

Next, click the gear icon again, and click the Export vCard option. This will export and back up all your iCloud contacts in case there is an issue with them.

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Export vCard

Save the file that downloads to your machine someplace safe in case there is an issue in the Scrubbing process. The file should be named with the first person in your address book plus the number of other contacts, so something like this:

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This will guarantee that if there is an issue your contacts are safe.

Note: Depending on the other devices you are also syncing with iCloud, you want to turn off iCloud sync for those contacts as well and delete them from each device. When we upload the clean contacts, they will all be downloaded fresh from the server.
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Delete iCloud contacts from all devices syncing with this account.

(Example from iPhone running iOS6)

Deleting contacts can be scary, this is why we backed them up to your machine so they are always there if you need them. Now, let’s get Outlook ready for the scrub.

Preparing Outlook for Scrubbing

There is one more step to do before using Scrubly to clean your contacts if you’re using iCloud sync. The steps below outline the extra step.

The solution here is to create a new local Outlook contacts folder and then copy your iCloud contacts to this new folder. You can then direct Scrubly to the new folder for the scrubbing process. When the process is complete, you can copy the clean contacts back into the iCloud folder. Here are the steps to do this.

First, create a new Outlook contacts folder. Make sure this is created outside of the iCloud folder. Then copy the contacts from the iCloud folder into the new folder.

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Copying Contacts

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With all contacts highlighted the copy command isselected

Now that your contacts are in a new folder, we can go ahead and run Scrubly.

Using Scrubly

Ok, with iCloud turned off and a new folder created, it’s time to get those contacts clean and orderly. First things first, you need to log into Scrubly at www.scrubly.com.
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The Scrubly homepage

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Login to Scrubly

Once you’re logged in to Scrubly, you will see some tutorial messages. I strongly recommend you take the time to view these. You’ll understand the service much more if you do.

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Tutorial popups

Since we’re looking at Outlook for Windows here, in the window that appears, select “Outlook (for Windows)” from the “Step 1” box.
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Selecting the type of address book

When you click on the link, the site will ask you to name your address book. You can name this something like “Work” or “Home” or even the name of the machine you’re running it on. Whatever you name it, this is only for your benefit in case you run multiple address books through Scrubly. So name it however you like. Once you enter the name, click “Next.”

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Name your address book

You will get a conformation that Address Book setup is complete. Click “Next.” From here, you will be prompted to download the Windows client. Click the Download button to get the client. You will get some instructions and depending on your browser, a warning about the download. Click OK in the window after reading, and accept the file being downloaded.

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Download the client for Windows

Once the file downloads, find where it is saved to, and double click the installer to load the Scrubly client.
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Installing the Scrubly client

You will go through a standard Windows installer to set up the Scrubly client. Once the installer is complete, the login window should launch. Here, you can enter the same username and password you used on Scrubly.com.

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The Scrubly login window

Next you will select the Outlook folder you wish to scrub. Select the folder you just created in the steps above. If you have multiple email addresses or users in Outlook, make sure only the new folder is selected to clean just the iCloud contacts. If you wish to clean more, just check those boxes as well.

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Select folders to scrub

If you have iCloud installed, you will get a warning about disabling sync services. Make sure you have logged out of iCloud before continuing. If you already have, click OK in the window and continue.

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Click OK to continue if services are shut off

Next you will select the Scrubly folder you created on Scrubly.com that you want these contacts to go to.

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Select the Scrubly folder to send contacts to

When you click “Next” your contacts will be uploaded to the Scrubly server. No changes are being done at this time. Once all your contacts upload to the server, the scrubbing process will take place there.

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Contacts uploading to Scrubly.com

Once the upload is complete, you will get a window that directs you to Scrubly.com. Head over there to finish the process.
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Go to Scrubly Online

You should get a window congratulating you on uploading your contacts. Click the Next button to walk through the scrubbing steps.
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Congratulations window

Click the “Start Scrub” button next to the contacts folder you wish to scrub. In this example, we only uploaded one of the folders from the local computer, so there is only one “Start Scrub” button available to click.
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Start Scrub

You now have a choice. Think of it like one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, where you get to choose the outcome, and hopefully not get attacked by a troll in the process. You can choose Express Scrub to do a nice, safe, automated clean of your contacts. This will only remove exact duplicates and combine contacts that are 100% safe to merge. This is great for most people and will take the shortest amount of time.

Your other option is the Deep Scrub. This requires your help throughout the process and will check every way possible to combine duplicates. For this post, we will do the Express scrub since this is what most people will ultimately choose. With this option, you still need to decide what happens to your notes for each contact. The safest method is to automatically merge note fields. Leave this box checked to do this. You will get the best results possible by leaving it checked. Click next to continue.
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Express or deep scrub

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The Notes field

While this is processing, note that your contacts are being cleaned on the site, so nothing is happening to your machine just yet. You can go do other things while this is processing, but depending on the number of contacts you upload, it should only

take a minute or two to complete the process.

Once Scrubly is done, you will get a conformation window showing what was done. In my case, 1 contact was updated and 1 was deleted. Click Next to continue.
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Review screen

We’re almost there. You will see a social network update window next, which can update your contacts with information from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Click “Run Update” to use this information, or “Skip” to continue without it. If you use this feature, you will need to link these social networks to Scrubly. For the sake of this tutorial, we will skip this.
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Social Update

Once this is complete, you must download the freshly scrubbed contacts back to Outlook. To do this, select the “Download to Outlook” option and click Continue.
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Download to Outlook

As long as you’re under the free limit or a premium member, your contacts will download to Outlook, ready to sync again.

You will now get a message telling you to click the Scrubly icon in your system tray. When you do, you will see another message telling you there are fresh contacts waiting on the server to be downloaded.

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The Scrubly system tray message

Click the icon to start the download process.
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Download Scrubbed Contacts

In the Scrubly window that appears, select the folder(s) to download.
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Select folders

This will copy the fresh contacts to your address book. Since we initially copied the iCloud folder to a new one, we need to put that back. Once you verify the contacts in the temporary folder are good, select all your iCloud contacts and delete them.

I know, deleting contacts is scary, but since we backed them up earlier, this is totally safe and necessary for the new contacts to get over to the server. Make sure iCloud sync is off on every device syncing to this account before continuing.
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Moving contacts back to iCloud folder

Once the deletion process is complete, move the new contacts from your temporary folder into the iCloud folder. When this is done, you can delete the temporary folder, as it is no longer necessary.

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Deleting the temporary folder

With this done, we can turn iCloud back on.

Getting iCloud Back

With the scrubbing complete, it’s time to turn iCloud back on and let those fresh and clean contacts sync back to all your devices. To sign back in to iCloud, open the iCloud Control Panel as shown above and enter your Apple ID and password. Click Sign in. Check the contacts box and click “Apply.”

This should get your contacts clean using Scrubly and synced using iCloud.

More Information

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Scrubly sign-up.