How to fix Messages when it shows a phone number instead of a name

Many conversations in Messages went awry for me recently for reasons for which I can find no explanation. Instead of the profile pictures and names of people in my contacts, their unadorned phone numbers appeared. Worse, for people for whom I had both an iCloud address and a phone number stored, their conversations split in two–this happened for my wife and children’s entries.

The issue appears to be that Messages stopped associating phone numbers without a country code for U.S. numbers with their entries in contacts. The international dialing format for a US or Canadian number is +1 followed by the 10-digit number, like +12065551212. The UK is +44, and so on. (You can find a complete list online.)

Thus, Messages looked at 206-555-1212 and decided it was different from +1-206-555-1212. This isn’t a new problem. People have been asking about it in forums for years, often having the same abrupt shift without having made any system-related settings. Some commenters note it may occur if you begin syncing with a non-iCloud service, like Google: merged entries might appear to have identical phone numbers but trigger this mismatch.

The solution turns out to be simple: add the country code to the phone numbers that show this behavior:

  1. In Contacts, select a person who shows up incorrectly in Messages.
  2. Click Edit.
  3. Add the country code to the start of their phone numbers.
  4. Click Done.

You can’t fix this directly within Messages by selecting a conversation with the phone number because it’s not correctly associated with the contact card. Working within Messages may create a duplicate entry.

As you fix each phone number, you will see Messages automatically merge conversations split across iCloud and phone number identities.

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Source : Macworld