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iOS 8: How to Remove Recent Contacts

remove contacts from iOS 8 App Switcher

iOS 8 adds recent contacts to the App Switcher. Users may want to turn this feature off to ensure privacy.

iOS 8 is one of the biggest iOS releases in the history of the operating system. The new mobile operating system opens up iOS to third-party customization, which has existed on other operating systems (including Mac OS X) for quite some time. In addition to customization, iOS 8 adds a lot of features to simplify workflow. The ability to view recent contacts by double tapping the home button makes it easier to communicate. Instead of launching the Phone or Messages app, one can simply double tap the home button, tap on a contact at the top and call or message the person directly. On the iPad, the App Switcher can be launched by swiping four fingers upward on the screen.

Some of the new iOS 8 features may prove detrimental to privacy. For example, when you double tap the home button to display the app switcher view, others may be able to see your recent contacts. It is possible to turn this feature off or display favorite contacts.

How to Turn Off Recent Contacts in the App Switcher View

Turning off recent contacts in the app switcher view is easily accomplished. Tap on Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and scroll down to Contacts. Tap on Show In App Switcher and then turn off Recents. That’s it. You will no longer see Recents in the App Switcher view. In addition to ensuring privacy, it will speed up the performance of the App Switcher on older devices.

turn off Recents in App Switcher

How to Turn On Phone Favorites in the App Switcher View

Phone Favorites are created in the Phone app. First, launch the Phone app and tap on Favorites at the bottom. Click on “+” at the top right to add contacts to your Favorites list. You can also tap on Edit and use the sliders on the right side of each contact to arrange the list. The order of this list will affect how your Phone Favorites appear in the App Switcher.

You can add favorites to the App Switcher view. First, tap on Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and scroll down to Contacts. Tap on Show In App Switcher and then turn on Phone Favorites. You will now see favorites when you launch the App Switcher.

Is it Possible to Clear Recents?

While it is possible to remove recent calls from the Phone app, this will not clear recent contacts from the App Switcher. Recent contacts displayed in the App Switcher aren’t just from phone calls. They are also from messages. The only way to clear contacts would be to reset all settings, however, this will remove all of your user settings. It’s easier to remove Recents from the App Switcher view.

Ideally, the Contacts app should have an option to reset recent contacts. I wouldn’t expect such a feature to make it into future iOS releases. Users can manage contacts on the App Switcher view with the provided tools. Apple isn’t known to over-complicate their user interfaces with an abundance of options. The ability to turn off Recents and display favorites works well enough for most people.


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