Data Doctors: Tips for finding recently-added contacts

Q: Help! I recently met someone very important who added themselves to my iPhone’s address book, but I can’t remember their name or find any way to see recently-added contacts.

A: As sophisticated as Apple is in developing operating systems and apps, the Contacts app is a rather basic tool that has essentially lost its functionality over the years. In past versions of the app, there was a “Recents” option, much like there is in the Phone app that shows your recent call and made this task easy.

The “Recents” tab in the Phone app will only show you activity if you recently interacted with the contact, so if all they did was add themselves to your contacts, it won’t show up there.

One tip for the future is to either send a quick text message or call them while you are together to ensure that the information entered is correct and so it will show up as recent activity in your messaging or phone app.

Another tip is to get in the habit of adding important contacts to “Favorites” right after they’ve been saved, so you can easily access them later.

Option 1: Third-party apps

As this small but important function is lacking in the Contacts app, several developers have created apps that are available in the App Store that solve this problem.

A free app that’s essentially a one-trick-pony is called “Recent Contacts Newest Digits” from a developer called Plexus Studios, downloadable here.

Once you download it, there are only two options for viewing your contacts — Newest or A-Z.

If you need more detailed information about when a contact was created or modified, there is another app called Recent Contacts from Kyle Gorlick that costs $2.99.

Option 2: Create a shortcut

This approach might get a little too complicated for those not familiar with the iOS Shortcut app, but you can create a shortcut based on the action of “Find Contacts.”

In the Shortcuts app, click on the + sign in the upper right corner, then on the “Add Action” button.

Click on the “Apps” category on the right and scroll down to “Contacts” to open the action options.

Tap “Find Contacts” and change the “Sort By” option from “None” to “Creation Date.” Next, change the “Order” from “Oldest First” to “Latest First,” then turn on the “Limit” switch and choose how many contacts you want it to pull up.

If you don’t do this, it will take much longer, as it will have to sort your entire contact list instead of stopping when it finds the last five contacts added, for instance.

You can test the shortcut by tapping the play icon on the bottom right corner of the screen. Depending on how large your contact list is, it may take a minute or so, but when it does finish, you get the most recently-added records in chronological order.

You can change the view of the list by tapping one of the three icons just below the contact being displayed.

If this is something you’ll often do, you can also add the shortcut to your Home Screen.

Ken Colburn is founder and CEO of Data Doctors Computer Services. Ask any tech question on Facebook or Twitter.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up