Import contacts from an Excel spreadsheet to Outlook

If you have a lot of business or personal contact information that you keep in a spreadsheet, you can import it straight into Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016 for Windows with just a little preparation. There are three major steps:

  1. Save your Excel workbook as a .csv file.

  2. Import your contacts.

  3. Map the Excel spreadsheet columns with the appropriate Outlook fields.

Step 1: Save your Excel workbook as a .csv file

Outlook can import comma separated value (.csv) files, but not workbooks with multiple sheets, so step 1 is saving your Excel workbook as a .csv file. Here’s how:

  1. In your workbook, click the worksheet with the contact information you want to import.

  2. Click File > Save As.

  3. Choose where to save your file.

  4. In the Save as type box, choose CSV (Comma delimited) (*.csv), and click Save.

    Excel tells you “The selected file type does not contain workbooks that contain multiple sheets.” This refers to a limitation of the CSV file; nothing will happen to your original workbook (the .xlsx file).

  5. Click OK.

    Excel tells you “Some features in your workbook might be lost if you save it as CSV (Comma delimited).” This refers only to limitations of the CSV file and can be ignored.

  6. Click Yes to have Excel save the current worksheet as a CSV file. The original workbook (the .xlsx file) closes.

  7. Close the CSV file.

You're done with Excel. Now, you can start the import process in Outlook.

Note: Some locales use different list separators by default. For example, the default separator for German is the semicolon. But Outlook doesn't support the semicolon as a field separator. So you might need to replace any semicolons in the CSV file with commas before going to the next step.

Step 2: Import your contacts to Outlook

Note:  If you’re importing the .csv file into an Outlook.com account (or another Exchange ActiveSync account) in Outlook 2013, see Import contacts into an Outlook.com account.

  1. At the top of your Outlook ribbon, choose File.

    This is what the ribbon looks like in Outlook 2016.
  2. Choose Open & Export > Import/Export.

    To create your Outlook pst file, choose File, choose Open and Export, and then Import/Export

  3. Choose Import from another program or file and then click Next.

    Import and Export Wizard

    Tip: If you are prompted to enter a password and you haven't set a password, click Cancel to move to the next window.

  4. Choose Comma Separated Values and click Next.

  5. Browse to the .csv file you want to import.

  6. Under Options, choose whether to replace duplicates (existing contacts), create duplicate contacts, or not import duplicates.

  7. Click Next and choose the destination folder for your contacts. Contacts should be selected by default, but if it's not, scroll up or down until you find it. You can also choose a different folder, or create a new one.

  8. Click Next.

  9. Make sure the check box next to Import "MyContacts.csv" (assuming that's your file name) is selected.

  10. Don't click Finish yet, because you'll need to "map" some of the columns in your CSV file to the contact fields in Outlook. Mapping can help the imported contacts turn out just the way you want.

Step 3: Map your CSV file columns to Outlook contact fields

  1. Click the Map Custom Fields button. The Map Custom Fields dialog box appears.

    • Under From, you'll see a box with the column names from the CSV file you're importing.

    • Under To, you'll see the standard fields that Outlook uses for contacts. If a field matches a column in the CSV file, you'll see your column under Mapped from.

    • The fields Name, First Name, and Last Name are standard Outlook contact fields, so if the contact information in your file has any of those contact names, you're good to go.

      Mapping a column from Excel to an Outlook contact field

  2. You'll probably need to do some manual mapping. For example, in this imported file, the contact's cell phone is in a column named "Cell Ph." It won't have an exact match in Outlook. But you can find a suitable match in Outlook by doing this:

    1. Scroll down in the pane on the right, and you'll find Other Address, which has a plus sign (+) next to it.

    2. Click the plus sign to expand what's under it, and you'll see a good match, Mobile Phone.

  3. In the pane on the left, drag Cell Ph and drop it on Mobile Phone in the right pane.

    You'll notice that Cell Ph now appears next to Mobile Phone in the Mapped from column.

    Cell ph is mapped to Outlook Mobile Phone field

  4. One at a time, drag the rest of the values from the left pane to the appropriate Outlook fields in the right pane. For example, you might drag Address to either Home Street or Business Street, depending on the type of address for your contacts.

  5. Click Finish.

    Your contacts are imported into Outlook.

  6. To view your contacts in Outlook 2016, at the bottom of the navigation bar, choose the People icon.

    Choose the People icon at the bottom of the page.

See also

Import and export Outlook email, contacts, and calendar

  1. If you are importing into an existing Contacts folder, skip to step 3.

  2. To create a new folder in Outlook, right-click the Contacts folder, click New Folder, type a name for the new folder, and then click OK.

  3. Click the File tab in the Ribbon, and then click Open on the menu.

  4. Click on Import tab. The Import and Export Wizard opens.

  5. Select Import from another program or file, and then click Next.

  6. Click Comma Separated Values (Windows), and then click Next.

  7. If the file that is displayed is not the correct file, click Browse , browse to the folder that is mentioned in step 3, and then double-click the file to select it.

  8. If you are importing into a new folder, the Options settings are irrelevant because there are no duplicates. If you are not importing to a new folder, choose the most logical selection. Click Allow duplicates if you are not sure, and then click Next.

  9. Click the Contacts folder or another contacts-type folder that you have created, and then click Next.

  10. If you are not sure that the column names in the first row of the spreadsheet will map correctly to the Outlook fields, click Map custom fields to verify them.

  1. If you are importing into an existing Contacts folder, skip to step 3.

  2. To create a new folder in Outlook, click Contacts, right-click the Contacts folder, and then click New Folder, type a name for the new folder, and then click OK.

  3. On the File menu, click Import and Export.

  4. Select Import from another program or file, and then click Next.

  5. Click Comma Separated Values (Windows), and then click Next.

  6. If the file that is displayed is not the correct file, click Browse, browse to the folder noted in step 3, and then double-click the file to select it.

  7. If you are importing into a new folder, the Options settings is irrelevant because there are no duplicates. If not, choose the most logical selection. Click Allow duplicates if you are not sure, and then click Next.

  8. Click the Contacts folder, or other contacts-type folder that you have created, to import into, and then click Next.

  9. If you are not sure that the column names in the first row of the spreadsheet will map correctly to the Outlook fields, click Map custom fields to verify them.

    Note: If Map custom fields is unavailable, you have chosen a non-contact-type folder to import into. Click Back, and then choose the correct folder. If you are satisfied with the mapping, click OK to close the Map Custom Fields dialog box, and then click Finish.

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