Updated November 1st, 2022.
If you’re an AOL user you may be wondering how to sync your AOL contacts with your iPhone and iPad. It’s not obvious how to do it, and the amount of mis-information suggesting you “try” this and “try” that is really overwhelming.
We’re not going to “try.” We’re going to “do.” And in the end, you’ll have your AOL contacts on your iPhone and iPad, and they’ll stay in sync with your contacts on AOL.com.
Interested in getting your AOL Calendar onto your iPhone? I have an article for that too.
Note: the screenshots here are from an iPhone, but the process is exactly the same on an iPad.
First, let’s have a look at the Settings on your iPhone. Go to Settings, then Contacts, then Accounts. Tap your AOL account, assuming you have one.
This is sort of surprising, isn’t it? You started by tapping Contacts in Settings, but when it comes to the AOL account, you end up with… no contacts! Other accounts show contacts as an option, like this:
I didn’t happen to turn those contacts on, because I’m using iCloud for my contacts, and having more than one contacts list leads to confusement, but still the option is there.
Confusement (n): state of being confused.
So here’s what you do: you make an “app specific password” for the Contacts app on your iPhone, and then you set up a new account using this new password (on your iPhone) just to handle AOL’s contacts (you will leave any existing AOL account alone, as that’s the one that gets the mail), and then… and then you’re done! Let’s do it step-by-step.
NOTE: making an app-specific password does not mean you are changing your AOL password. You’re not changing it. You are making a special password, just for the Contacts app on your iPhone, and that is the only thing you will use it for. Also note: if you have an iPhone and an iPad you’ll go through the following steps on each device. They each need their own app-specific password.
Part One: Generating the app-specific password
First, go to aol.com in a browser (Safari, Firefox, Chrome) and sign in. Click your name (at upper right, as shown below). I’m doing this on my Mac, because it’s bigger and easier to do, but you can do this on your iPhone also.
Clicking your name takes you to your AOL Account page. Click where it says “Account Security” on the left.
The part we care about is the “Manage app passwords” part. So click there, as outlined in red above.
When you go to “Manage app passwords” you get a box asking you to “Select your app.”
This is where it gets a little tricky, because “iPhone Contacts” is not in the list! That’s OK– just choose “Other App.”
In the next box you get to name the app-specific password. I’d choose something that makes sense, like “iPhone AOL Contacts.” Then click the “Generate” button. AOL will make a password for this very specific purpose. Write it down now, because you won’t be able to look it up in AOL later.
If you used your iPhone to go to aol.com, you’re in great shape: just copy the big blue password, for pasting later. If you used your Mac or PC to do it, you really, really need to write it down.
VERY IMPORTANT: AOL app-specific passwords are four groups of four characters, separated by… absolutely nothing! Those are NOT spaces between the groups of four. That is, the password in the example below is NOT “this that theo ther.” It’s actually “thisthattheother.” No spaces. No kidding.
You can click “Done” now. We are halfway home.
Part Two: Using the app-specific password in a new Contacts account
You recall that we didn’t see “Contacts” in the AOL section of our iPhone’s Contacts settings in the Settings app. That’s the problem we’re going to address right now: we’re going to add an account– leaving the old one there, as it’s doing a fine job of bringing in the mail– just for contacts.
Go to Settings on your iPhone. Tap Contacts. Tap Accounts. Tap Add Account. From there, choose “Other,” then choose “Add CardDAV Account.”
In case you wondered: “CardDAV” accounts are all about contacts. The “Card” part references “vCards,” which reference the old Rolodex card. Kids, ask your parents.
CardDAV is a standard method for synching contacts with servers. (There’s also “CalDAV” for calendars.) It’s not an AOL thing, it’s an industry-wide thing. And luckily for us, AOL uses it, and the iPhone knows about it, and that’s how we’re going to solve our problem.
All you have to do now is fill in this form.
From the top:
- Server: https://carddav.aol.com (do NOT leave off the “https://” part!)
- User Name: your AOL.com email address, including the “@aol.com” part.
- Password: the app-specific password you just made. NOT your regular AOL password.
- Description: anything you want. The “Description” is there to remind YOU what the account’s about. “My AOL Contacts” would be a good description.
Fill in the form, and then tap “Next” at top right. You’ll see the word “Verifying” at the top of the screen, and if everything works properly you’ll see blue check marks next to everything.
Tap “Done” at top right. You’re done. Well, almost. You still have to be sure that your AOL contacts are displayed in the Contacts app. So…
Open the Contacts app. Tap Groups at top left. Be sure your new CardDAV account is checked.
NOW you’re done.
It would be smart to go back to Settings, and then Contacts, and be sure that the “Default Account” shows your new CardDAV account. You won’t see “Default Account” if you only have one contact-synching account, which you very well might. But if in addition to your AOL account you also have an iCloud account, or a gmail account, or a yahoo account, you might see, in the Contacts section of Settings, a “Default Account” option. Default Account means “when you make a new contact on your iPhone, which account does it go into?”
And that’s it. Try it out: make a contact on your iPhone, and then go to aol.com in a browser and you’ll see it in the Contacts section there. Add a contact from within aol.com in a browser, and you’ll see it arrive on the iPhone. It’s not instant, so don’t worry if you don’t see quick results. Give it some time. It will work.Copyright 2008-2023 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.
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THanks. I had my hopes up, but this didn’t work. It complained about using SSL, so I said “ok, turn it off” and my iphone was still unable to connect to the AOL carddav server.
Let’s set up a Zoom call and see if we can make this work. Contact me at email@example.com and let’s do it.
I had the same problem with SSL .
In the server section, did you just put “carddav.aol.com” or did you use “https://carddav.aol.com”? It won’t work without the https:// part.
Groups I created in aol mail did not import over. Just the individuals did. Using the email app on my iPad would be easier if I could bring them in. Suggestions?
Making groups in Contacts is pretty easy, maybe easier than trying to find a way to import the groups from AOL. I don’t know of a way to do it automatically, sorry to say.
Should I delete my existing carddav? It doesnt sync at the moment, so I am trying to redo it to work better on my new phone (I only upgraded to an xs).
I’m afraid to delete it.
First things first– back up those contacts! You can select them all and export as a vCard. I would do that, and export as a Contacts archive, and I’d put those backups somewhere safe. I’ll look into your issue later but let’s get the backup first.
Thank you!!! I am such a tech illiterate, but I followed this to the letter and have my AOL contacts on my Ipad & phone.
Fantastic. Makes my day.
Such great direction, but when I went to verify it says failed. Everything is correct, checked and rechecked.
Hmmmmm. It ought to work. CardDAV, right?
Seriously, this article is the best I have ever seen. Not only it worked perfectly, I love how you explained even the smallest things which wasn’t even necessary just for the sake of educating me just incase I wouldn’t have known otherwise 🙂 Thank you so much.
Thank you Christian! This was an AWESOME and effective solution…had spent hours talking and trying things with tech support with no solution in sight. Thought I would try one more time through an online search, this popped up, and boy howdy! You did it. My only hiccup happened when I copied and pasted the URL. Did not see that a space came in front of it and the SSL message came back with its No Can Do. Took the space out and all worked as your advice said it would. And, I did not have to replicate the steps on any of my other devices (iPads and iPhone). The contacts automatically ported over. Your instructions were so well done and explained – made it easy for me to follow them and double check each step of the way. Thank you so much!
Fantastic. Great to hear this. Yes, watch out for those invisible leading (and trailing) spaces! They ruin everything. No partial credit when it comes to URLs.
I am looking forward to following these instructions. BUT a question. Will this approach serve to synch (and thereby backup) ONLY the contacts on my iPhone? I very much do not want to merge the contacts with those on my iPad/Macbook. It appears that during the default account step I need to only have AOL selected.
The steps in the article will add the contacts from AOL.com to your iPhone. That’s it. If you go to AOL.com in a browser, and you go to the Contacts section, those are the contacts that are coming over to the iPhone. That’s all these steps do. If you have 100 contacts in the Contacts section of AOL.com, you will bring in those 100 contacts to your iPhone. You can always switch them off. What you do there for your iPhone is not going to “pollute” your other devices. It would be good to know where your other devices get their contacts, if not from AOL.com. If you’re not sure of what you’re doing here contact me by email and let’s discuss in advance.