How to create relationships between contacts on the iPhone

iPhone Contacts lets you specify relationships between people, like brother, sister, father, partner, which leads to creating family groups. This step-by-step guide shows how it works.

The Contacts app on the iPhone, iPad and Apple Mac enables you to create relationships between contacts. For example, you can link your own contact card to your partner’s, your children, your parents and so on. You can then create a Family group, which can appear in things like Do Not Disturb settings. Normally calls are blocked when Do Not Disturb is enabled, but you can set an exception to allow members of the Family group to call you. See Don’t let your iPhone or iPad disturb your sleep.

Relationships are not just for family and there are work relationships, such as assistant and manager, and it is possible to set up a Work group with all your work contacts. First, let’s take a look at how to create relationships between contacts.

Do this for your own contact card and then repeat it for others, so you link to your child and your child links to you for example. It would be tedious to do it for everyone in Contacts, so just choose the most important people first, like family.

Create contact relationships

1 Search for a contact

Search for a contact in iPhone Contacts

Open the Contacts app on the iPhone (this will work on the iPad and Mac too). Tap in the search box and find a contact you want to set a relationship for. It can be yourself or someone else. Press the contact.

2 Edit the contact

A contact in the Contacts app on the iPhone

The contact details appears and there is an Edit link in the top right corner. Press it and we will add a relationship.

3 Add a related contact

Add a related contact in iPhone Contacts

Scroll down and find the option to add related name. Tap the green plus next to it.

4 Change the relation

Add a related contact in the iPhone Contacts app

Contacts has set the relationship to mother. Don’t worry if this contact is not right because it is just a guess. Tap it to change it.

5 Choose a relationship

Add a related contact in the iPhone Contacts app

Many relationships are listed, so swipe through them and select the appropriate one. If setting a son for example, you can repeat these steps with your son’s contact info and set yourself as the mother or father, so each contact points to the other.

6 Add a contact

Add a related contact in the iPhone Contacts app

Now you must say who this contact is related to. You could type the name, but it is easier to tap the i button and select a contact.

7 Search and add

Add a related contact in the iPhone Contacts app

Search Contacts for the person you want to create a relationship with and then tap the contact in the results.

8 Save it

Add a related contact in the iPhone Contacts app

You can add more relationships, so you could specify mother, father, partner, son, daughter and so on. As many as you want. It is up to you. It can be beneficial to specify these relationships and they appear in searches.

9 View the relationship

A contact in the iPhone Contacts app

Select the contact in the Contacts app to view it and you will now see the relationship you just added.

Create contact groups

How do you create groups of contacts such as Family or Work on the iPhone? I cannot see any way to do this. However, groups created elsewhere are supported in iPhone Contacts and you can filter contacts by group, such as listing only Family or only Work contacts. Groups are supported elsewhere, like in Do Not Disturb on the iPhone.

If you have an Apple Mac

Contacts app menu on the Apple Mac

Open the Contacts app on the Mac. Group actions are on the File menu. Create a new group and it appears in the Contacts app sidebar. You then drag contacts and drop them on the group. New Group From Selection is particularly useful and you can select multiple contacts (Cmd+click them) and then create a group from the selection.

If you don’t have a Mac

Contacts app contact groups on iCloud

Go to the iCloud website in a web browser on your computer. Sign in and open the Contacts app. Click the plus at the bottom of the sidebar and select New Group. Name it and it appears in the sidebar. Then just click and drag contacts to the group in the sidebar. Create a Family group for example and drag your family contact cards to it.

Groups on the iPhone

Back on the iPhone, give it a minute to sync, then open Contacts and press Groups in the top left corner.

Groups of contacts in the iOS Contacts app

You will then see a list of groups under iCloud. Here is a Family group. There may be other groups like Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo! and so on. Select the groups you want to see contacts from.

Groups of contacts in the iOS Contacts app

You now have relationships stored in contacts and, with the help of the macOS Contacts app or the iCloud website, you have groups of contacts, such as Family.