iPhone Message problem

Here's what to do if your iPhone's messaging app has stopped showing the names of people who message you, instead showing only their phone numbers.

No-one knows anyone else's phone number these days. If pushed I can remember my own, that of my childhood home and those of my long-deceased grandparents. We operate these days using contacts - peoples' names.

But from iOS5 onward some iPhone users have reported and occasional and somewhat annoying bug. From time to time SMS- and iMessages appear - all of them - with no names but just the numbers. It's like the Contacts app can't talk to the messaging apps.

We haven't been able to get to the bottom of exactly what is causing this, but we have trawled the PC Advisor- and Apple forums to come up wth several suggested fixes that seem to have worked for some correspondents. We suggest you try them in the following order. Please let us know in the comments below if any of these work for you, and also of any other fixes you have tried.

iPhone message names not showing - what to do

1. iPhone message names not showing - hard reset the iPhone

That's right: switch it off and on again. Classic IT support. Hold down the power button until your iPhone powers down. Then do the same to boot it up. Check your messages - hopefully the contact names are back. (See also: How to reset a forgotten iPad or iPhone passcode.)

2. iPhone message names not showing - switch off Dial Assist

Okay this one is weird, and we can't imagine *why* it would work. But various people have posted it as a success, so let's give it a whirl. Go to Settings, then Phone. Scroll down to 'Dial assist' and slide the slider to 'Off'. Then reboot as above - are your message names back? Do let us know!

Dial assist helps with making sure you use the correct dialing prefix when calling to- and from foreign countries, so you may want to re-enable it when you travel abroad. (See also: Turn a song on your iPhone into a ringtone.)

3. iPhone message names not showing - reset network settings

If that doesn't work the next thing to try involves resetting your network settings. This has been reported as being successful principally on Verizon in the States, but it is worth trying. Go to Settings, General then scroll to the bottom and select Reset. Then choose 'Reset Network Settings'. You'll be asked to put in your security pin, if you use one. Once this has done check your messages and see if everything is okay. Don't worry if not, we have one more thing to try. (See also: How to share your iPhone & iPad photos and videos with anyone.)

4. iPhone message names not showing - restore iPhone from backup

Finally, you can restore your iPhone from a backup at a point at which you know the messaging app worked well, contacts and all. This works only if you regularly back up your iPhone, of course, but you may find it has been happening without you knowing it.

iCloud Backup provides an easy and reliable backup solution for customers who want to back up their iOS devices wirelessly and automatically. If you're using iCloud, it can automatically back up your data if you've chosen this option. Alternaticely you can backup every time you sync your phone with iTunes.

To restore to a backup, connect your iOS device to the computer that has your backup. Make sure this computer has the latest version of iTunes. Choose File, Devices, Restore from back up. If you're using iTunes 10.7 or earlier, right-click the device from the list and choose Restore from Backup.

 Hopefully this will solve the problem. Let us know in the comments below, and do let us know if you have experienced this issue and have any other potential solutions. See also: How to put an iPad into recovery mode – iOS 7.