Fix: WhatsApp not showing contacts on Android

WhatsApp pretty much replaced standard calls and texting for millions of people. It’s simple, convenient, and most importantly, it doesn’t cost money.

However, WhatsApp is still different than your conventional phone, as it requires a little setting up before you can use it to text and call your friends for free (and post stories, if that’s even a thing). That’s why mistakes are possible.

What I have in mind particularly is the scenario when your WhatsApp contacts don’t show in the app. As I said, the reason for this is probably a skipped or mistook step. So, I’ll walk you through the whole process of adding or re-adding contacts to WhatsApp (along with a few extra tweaks). Just keep reading, everything you need is below.

Table of contents:

How to add contacts to WhatsApp

WhatsApp requires access to your contacts list, and when you grant it, there’s no need for any further action inside the app to make contacts appear. So, as long as a certain number is inside your Contacts app (and that contact uses WhatsApp), it’ll appear in the app.

So, to sum it up. Existing contacts are already there, and if you need to add a new contact, just follow these simple “rules”:

  1. Save a contact’s name and phone number in your default contacts app (as you’d normally do when adding a new contact).
    • If it’s a local number: Save the number in its original format.
    • If it’s an international number: Save the number in full international format:
      • + [Country Code] [Full Phone Number]

If, however, your existing contacts don’t appear in WhatsApp, you’ll probably have to do some tweaking to make this work.

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What to do if WhatsApp won’t show contacts

There could be a few reasons why you’re not seeing contacts in WhatsApp. If I were to bet, I’d put my money on Permissions. It’s possible you haven’t given WhatsApp necessary for accessing contacts, and that’s why you’re not able to see them inside the app.

Of course, there could be some other reasons, like bugs, accumulated cache, and more. Nevertheless, we’re going to explore all of them here.

Solution 1 – Enable access to contacts

To display your contacts and make it possible for you to communicate with your friends, WhatsApp needs permission to access your contacts. When you set WhatsApp up for the first time, the app asks for those permissions. If you accept it right away, you’re good to go

However, if you deny, WhatsApp won’t be able to import your contacts. In that case, you’ll have to enable access to contacts manually. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to Privacy > Permission manager.
  3. Tap Contacts.
  4. Find and tap WhatsApp (it should be under Denied).
  5. Now, just select Allow.

Solution 2 – Make sure your friends are using WhatsApp

Although this one’s obvious, I will mention it just in case. Only people that actually use WhatsApp (or have a WhatsApp account at least) will appear in your contacts list. Now, I’m sure you figured it out yourself, but it’s still something to consider.

This especially applies when you can’t find a specific contact, while others are still there. Maybe your friend has deactivated his/her WhatsApp account, so it doesn’t appear in your list anymore.

Solution 3 – Clear Cache

Now, it’s time for generic solutions, everybody! I know how much you love them, so I put two of the commonest among the most common solutions in here, clearing the cache and reinstalling the app. You probably don’t expect them to solve anything, but they just might. You never know. It won’t hurt, anyway.

To cut to the chase, here’s how to clear WhatsApp’s cache on Android:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Choose Apps.
  3. Open Manage apps.
  4. Locate and open WhatsApp.
  5. Tap Storage.
  6. Clear Cache and then Data and reboot your device.

Solution 4 – Re-install the app

And now onto re-installing the app. This one might actually be helpful because in case a buggy update messed up your contacts, a fresh install will bring in the latest version, where the potential bugs and issues may have been resolved.

Here’s how to re-install WhatsApp on your Android device:

  1. Open Play Store and navigate to WhatsApp.
  2. Uninstall the app.
  3. Install the app again and reboot your device.
  4. Set the app up again, and see if your contacts are there.

That’s about it. I hope at least one of these solutions helped you bring back your contacts to WhatsApp. In case you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, just leave them in the comments down below.

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