How To: Disable contact suggestions in iOS 9

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iOS 9 Suggested Contacts

The iOS 9 Proactive Search feature has the ambitious aim of changing the way users think of contextual searches but just because the goal is interesting it does not mean that everyone will appreciate or agree with it. Staying true to its namesake, Proactive has a host of suggested content including contacts that it can automatically retrieve from your Mail. Today we will talk more about how this feature works and how you can disable it if you do not like the way it works.

Proactive’s suggested contacts

The technology behind the feature is fairly simple. Through Proactive, your phone scans incoming messages and checks for names. This allows it to suggest contacts when you are trying to send a new email or call someone as it assumes you know the people who are emailing you. In order to protect your privacy, your iOS device will only scan on-device content so nothing goes through Apple’s servers. You may want to take that with a grain of salt but Apple does have a proven track record for privacy-focused features.

Where do suggested contacts appear?

As the Proactive features are deeply integrated into iOS 9, its suggestions appear in multiple places. The most obvious place is the Mail autocomplete suggestions field where unconfirmed contacts take high priority in the list of suggested items. Furthermore, suggested contacts appear in the Calendar app whenever you are trying to add people to an event, especially if you have included them in previous email messages or events. Finally, the feature also works as an improved Caller ID as the feature allows Proactive to at least guess as to who may be calling you.

How to disable suggested contacts

Disabling suggested contacts means you will no longer have access to any of the aforementioned features. Furthermore, disabling the feature will instantly delete previous suggestions so they will no longer appear anywhere in your device.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to “Mail, Contacts, Calendars”.
  3. In the Contacts section, toggle the switch off for the “Contacts Found in Mail” option.

If you own an OS X El Capitan Mac, you may also want to disable suggested contacts there:

  1. Open the Contacts app.
  2. Click on Contacts > Preferences.
  3. Go to the General tab.
  4. Uncheck the box that reads “Show contacts found in Mail”.
  5. Confirm the warning by clicking on the “Turn Off” button and you are done.