iPhone Contact Fields: Related Name, Social Profiles, Notes, and Custom Fields

The iPhone's Contacts allows you to include all sorts of details about any person in your phone book, from their relationship to you, job title, or social media addresses. Here are some details of the fields you can use in Contacts.

Add Related Name

This is one of our favorite features of Contacts. For example, before this feature was added, Barbara would create a custom field for the phone number of a colleague's secretary and add him to the contact info of the colleague. You can imagine the confusion this caused, not to mention the ever-growing list of custom fields.

Now, she creates a separate contact for the secretary and then links it to the known colleague. If she can't remember the secretary's name, she can go to the colleague's contact and access the relationship. This is also a great tool for linking spouses or parents and children.

To add people who are related to the Contact, such as parent, spouse, sibling, partner, assistant, or manager, tap Add Related Name, and then tap the Info button on the right. The Contacts list opens; tap the name you want to add as a relation, and you return to the contact information screen. Tap the field label to reveal a list of choices, and tap the appropriate one.

If you want to cancel the relation, tap Edit in the upper right corner. Tap the minus sign that appears to the left of the relation, and then tap Delete, which appears on the right. This action only deletes the relation between the two contacts; it doesn't delete any contacts.

Related Names are not the same thing as Linked Contacts. Refer to the earlier sidebar, "Unifying Contacts" to understand how contacts from different sources appear on one screen.

Social Profiles and Instant Message Addresses

If you allowed Contacts to access information from your social network accounts (in Settings→Twitter/Facebook/Flickr/Vimeo), this information is automatically added to Contacts. If you want to limit promiscuous sharing between Contacts and your social networks or your friends have set up their social network accounts to not share this information, you can manually add multiple social network profile user names to each contact.

Tap Add Social Profile, and then tap the field label to the left to choose which social network you want; Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Myspace, Sina Weibo, or a custom service. After tapping the service, the Info screen re-opens. Tap the Social Profile field to the right and type in the profile name.

Likewise, you can enter instant message addresses for services such as Skype or MSN Messenger. Tap Add Instant Message, and then tap the service field on the left to reveal a list of ten IM services plus an option to add a custom service. Tap the service you use to instant message with this contact.

After tapping the service, the Info screen re-opens. Tap the Instant Message field to the right and type in the contact's IM address.

Notes

The Notes field is a catchall for additional information you want to keep about a contact. Tap the field and the keyboard appears so you can type, or dictate if you use Siri. Here are a few ways to use this field:

  • Business hours

  • Club membership numbers for airlines

  • Favorite wines or dishes at restaurants

  • Tags that are used to create groups in Contacts on the Mac

Add Field

The last field provides options related to the name of the contact. Tap Add Field and the list of field options opens. After one of the options is used, it no longer appears in the Add Field options list.

  • Prefix: Adds a field before first name where you can type in a title such as Mr. or Princess.

  • Phonetic First Name, Phonetic Middle Name, and Phonetic Last Name: Are inserted immediately after the First, Middle (if added), or Last name fields so you can type in a phonetic spelling of the names that are pronounced differently than they are spelled.

  • Middle: Adds a field between the First and Last for a middle name.

  • Suffix: To add common suffixes like M.D. or Jr.

  • Nickname: Comes right before company.

  • Job Title and Department: Are inserted before Company.

Create a New Contact for yourself including your own related people and then specify which is your card by going to Settings→Mail, Contacts, Calendars→My Info, which opens Contacts. Choose the contact you created for yourself.

The My Info card is used by Siri, Reminders, and other apps to understand commands like "Remind me upon arriving Home" or "Call my sister." Specify the My Info card for Siri by going to Settings→General→Siri→My Info.

Each time you add a custom label, that label is added to the list beneath whatever options Contacts gives you for that field. If you add a lot of custom labels, the Add Custom Label button is all the way at the bottom — just scroll down to find it.

You can delete custom labels from the list by tapping the Edit button. Tap the minus sign that appears next to the label you want to delete, and then tap the Delete button. If the custom label was being used on a contact, it will be replaced by a generic label.

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