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Posts on the Apple Discussion Forum indicate that a problem has existed since 2021 with very slow responsiveness when using the contacts app. This issue may also contributed to some sync issues. When making a change to a contact, the app may seem to freeze and not be responsive for a while, displaying the spinning wheel.

Possible Causes

Some possible causes of slowness could be the following:

  • Many contacts with large image files used for the profile picture.
  • Odd characters used or embedded codes in the notes.
  • Slow computer.
  • Slow Internet.
  • Too many contacts.

This Fix Worked

On a very fast new Mac computer, with very fast internet, and about 5,000 contacts, slow response times were noticed, sometimes making the Contacts app almost unusable.

The contacts included about 7 different groups each containing a few dozen entries.

After removing most of the groups, the problem was resolved and the contacts program was running fast again.

An Alternative to Groups

Instead of using the groups feature, put a unique keyword or tag in the notes area of entries you would like to have as a group. Examples would be: myfamily, abookclub, myfriends, etc. Use two words without a space between them, or a combination of letters and numbers. As long as the tag is unique, you can search on it. The search results are your list or group. This system works with Google Contacts and other systems that have a searchable notes field.

Editing Contacts

The Apple Mac Contacts app allows for direct editing of the notes area without being in the edit mode. Simply click in the notes area, and type something new or make a change.

However, editing in this mode may cause an issue with synchronizing. Instead, it’s better to press the Edit button and make changes to the notes area while in the edit mode.

Further Reading

Here are some discussion threads in the Apple Support Forum listed by date with the most recent at the top.

  • 14 Feb 2023 — “Mac Contacts extremely slow — Spinning Wheel” [View]
  • 7 Dec 2022 — “Contact app on my Mac running super slow” [View]
  • 5 May 2022 — “My contacts program is very slow. It used to work fine. But now I just see the wheel spinning for minutes at a time with each edit or search or add a new contact.” [View]
  • 29 Mar 2022 — “The Contacts app is very slow on my Mac” [View]
  • 12 Sep 2021 — “Contacts app very, very slow” [View]
  • 23 Mar 2021 — “Contacts very slow ( spinning wheel)” [View]
  • 3 Jan 2021 — “Address book (contacts app) iMac very slow” [View]