Recover lost or deleted contacts from the Address Book

So today I upgraded to Mountain Lion, great update, but something went wrong and my Address Book (or Contacts as Apple renamed the App with this update) stated that I had 2 iCloud lists. That seemed odd and I tried to fix it my deleting one of the iCloud groups. I succeeded, but with removing the first iCloud group all my contacts in the second iCloud group where also gone!

Big problem as you cannot recover any backup of your contacts from iCloud! To bad, I tried some methods to recover my contacts and as a note to myself (and maybe to help you) I will write down what you should and shouldn’t try.

Things to do to recover deleted contacts:

1. Disable iCloud sync in System Configuration -> iCloud -> Uncheck Contacts

(This will prevent iCloud from removing your contacts when putting restoring a backup.)

2A. If you have a Time Machine backup: Go to ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook replace the contents of this folder with what’s in your Time Machine backup and you’re done.

2B. If you don’t have your Time Machine disk near you (as I did) just try to Time Machine as recent versions of Time Machine use local backups. So if you’re lucky there may be a good backup on your local disk.

2C. If Time Machine is not on your side today and you just upgraded MacOS like me look for a file like “Migration 20120731213806-3786.abbu.tbz”. Every time Contacts migrates to a new version of the App there is a file like this containing a complete backup of all your contacts. Uncompress this file by double-clicking it and double-click the .abbu file to replace everything in your Address Book with the backuped contacts in this file.

3. Enable iCloud Contacts syncing again to sync the contact to all of your devices.

Things you don’t have to try:

- If your iPhone/iPad also syncs with iCloud the contacts are already erased on them. Restoring backups on them will not work as the backup doesn’t contain any contact info. (Because it is in the cloud…)

- Also there is no way to undelete contacts or recover from iCloud backups or so. You must have a backup on Time Machine or made by Address Book itself…