Import contacts to Outlook for Windows

You import contacts to Outlook on your desktop using the Outlook Import/Export wizard. First, make sure you're using a desktop version of Outlook. Here's what the ribbon looks like in Outlook 2016 for your desktop. The 2007, 2010 and 2013 versions of Outlook look similar, and you can use them to import, too.

This is what the ribbon looks like in Outlook 2016.

Does your ribbon say "Office 365" or look different from this picture? See My ribbon says "Office 365" or looks different from the picture. Or, if you're a Mac customer, see the instructions for Outlook for Mac 2011 or Outlook 2016.

Choose from the following list of import instructions. To learn how to export contacts, see Export contacts from Outlook for Windows.

Import contacts from a .csv file to Outlook 2013 or 2016

  1. At the top of your Outlook 2013 or 2016 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 choose Next.

    import and export wizard - import from another program or file

  4. Choose Comma Separated Values, and then choose Next.

    Outlook Export Wizard - Choose CSV file

  5. In the Import a File box, browse to your contacts file, and then double-click to select it.

    Browse to the contacts csv file and choose how to handle duplicate contacts

  6. Choose one of the following to specify how you want Outlook to handle duplicate contacts:

    • Replace duplicates with items imported   If a contact is already in Outlook and your contacts file, Outlook discards the info it has for that contact and uses the info from your contacts file. You should choose this option if the contact info in your contacts file is more complete or more current than the contact info in Outlook.

    • Allow duplicates to be created   If a contact is in Outlook and your contacts file, Outlook creates duplicate contacts, one with the original Outlook info and one with the info imported from your contacts file. You can combine info for those people later to eliminate duplicate contacts. This is the default option.

    • Do not import duplicate items    If a contact is in Outlook and your contacts file, Outlook keeps the info it has for that contact and discards the info from your contacts file. You should choose this option if the contact info in Outlook is more complete or more current than the info in your contacts file.

  7. Click Next.

  8. In the Select a destination folder box, scroll to the top if needed and select the Contacts folder > Next. If you have multiple email accounts, choose the Contacts folder that's under the email account you want to be associated with the contacts.

    When you import Google Gmail contacts into your Office 365 mailbox, select Contacts as the destination

  9. Choose Finish.

    When you import Gmail contacts to your Office 365 mailbox, click the Finish button to start the migration

    Outlook begins importing your contacts immediately. You'll know it's finished when the Import Progress box closes.

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Import contacts from a .csv file or .pst file to Outlook 2010

If you haven't yet exported your contacts, see these instructions to export contacts from Outlook 2010 as a .pst file.

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

    In Outlook 2010, choose the File tab.

  2. Choose Open > Import.

    Choose Open, then choose Import.

  3. In the Import and Export Wizard, click Import from another program or file, and the click Next.

    Choose import from another program or file.

  4. To import a .csv file, choose Comma Separated Values (Windows). To import a .pst file, choose Outlook Data File (.pst). Choose Next.

    Choose .pst import

  5. Choose Browse, then choose the .csv or .pst file you want to import, and choose Next.

    Notes    Under Options, if you want the imported information to replace duplicate items already in Outlook, choose that. Otherwise, choose Do not import duplicates.

    Choose the .pst file you want to import

  6. If a password was assigned to the Outlook Data File (.pst), you are prompted to enter the password, and then click OK.

  7. Set the options for importing items. Choose Filter if you want to only import certain emails. Choose the More Choices tab if you want to only import emails that are read or unread.

    The default settings usually don’t need to be changed. The top folder — usually Personal Folders, Outlook Data File, or your email address — is selected automatically.

    Choose Filter if you want to import only certain emails.

  8. Include subfolders is selected by default. All folders under the folder selected will be imported.

  9. The default selection of Import items into the same folder in matches the folders from the imported file to the folders in Outlook. If a folder doesn’t exist in Outlook, it will be created.

  10. Choose Finish. Outlook starts importing your data immediately. You'll know it's finished when the progress box closes.

Tip    If you want to import or restore only a few items from an Outlook Data File (.pst), you can open the Outlook Data File, and then, in the navigation pane, click and drag the items from Outlook Data File folders to your existing Outlook folders.

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Import contacts from an Excel spreadsheet

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

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 2: 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 now successfully imported into Outlook.

    Contacts

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Import contacts from Google Gmail

These instructions assume you've already exported your contacts from Google to a .csv file. Now you're ready to import them.

  1. At the top of your Outlook 2013 or 2016 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 choose Next.

    import and export wizard - import from another program or file

  4. Choose Comma Separated Values, and then choose Next.

    Outlook Export Wizard - Choose CSV file

  5. In the Import a File box, browse to find the file you saved in step 7 of the previous procedure, and then double-click to select it.

    Browse to the contacts csv file and choose how to handle duplicate contacts

  6. Choose one of the following to specify how you want Outlook to handle duplicate contacts:

    • Replace duplicates with items imported   If a contact is in Outlook and Gmail, Outlook discards the info it has for that contact and uses the info from Gmail. You should choose this option if the contact info in Gmail is more complete or more current than the contact info in Outlook.

    • Allow duplicates to be created   If a contact is in Outlook and Gmail, Outlook creates duplicate contacts, one with the original Outlook info and one with the info imported from Gmail. You can combine info for those people later to eliminate duplicate contacts. This is the default option.

    • Do not import duplicate items    If a contact is in Outlook and Gmail, Outlook keeps the info it has for that contact and discards the info from Gmail. You should choose this option if the contact info in Outlook is more complete or more current than the contact info in Gmail.

  7. Click Next.

  8. In the Select a destination folder box, scroll to the top if needed and select the Contacts folder > Next.

    When you import Google Gmail contacts into your Office 365 mailbox, select Contacts as the destination

  9. Choose Finish.

    When you import Gmail contacts to your Office 365 mailbox, click the Finish button to start the migration

    Outlook imports your contacts.

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Import contacts from iCloud (vCard .vcf file) to Outlook

For instructions on exporting your all of your contacts from iCloud, see Export your iCloud contacts to a vCard (.vcf) file. Often customers export only 1 contact from iCloud when they intended to export all of them.

So, assuming you've already exported your iCloud contacts to a vcf file, now you need to convert them from a .vcf file format to a .csv file format. This involves importing them to Windows, and then exporting them to the csv file. If you have more than 50 or so contacts, this is a tedious process because you have to press OK for each contact you want to import to the csv file. There's no way to do a global OK and import all of them to the csv file at the same time.

Note   If you'd like to request that bulk import from a vCard file be supported in Outlook, visit the Outlook Suggestion Box to leave your feedback in the Outlook 2016 group. The Outlook Mail and Calendar team is actively monitoring this forum.

Convert a .vcf file to .csv (import them to Windows and then export them to a .csv file)

  1. On your PC, open File Explorer (or Windows Explorer if you are using an earlier version of Windows).

  2. Go to your Contacts folder:

    C:\Users\<username>\Contacts

  3. At the top of the page, choose Import.

    Navigate to the Contacts folder, then choose Import.

  4. Choose vCard (VCF file) > Import.

    Choose vCard, then choose Import.

  5. Navigate to and choose the .vcf file that you exported from iCloud, then choose Open.

    Choose your vCard file you want to import to .csv.

  6. For each contact you want to import to the .csv file, choose OK.

    Choose OK for each contact you want to import to the csv file.

  7. When you're finished, choose Close.

  8. At the top of the File Explorer page, choose Export.

  9. Choose CSV file > Export.

    Choose CSV and then choose Export.

  10. Choose Browse to name your csv file.

    Choose Browse to name your file.

  11. In the File name box, type a name for your .cvs file. In this example, I named my file "my contacts from iCloud."

    Type a name for your csv file and then choose Save.

  12. Choose the fields you want to export into the .csv file and then choose Finish. It's recommended that you accept the defaults for now. You can always create another csv file if you want other fields.

    Choose the fields you want to export to your csv file and choose Finish.

  13. You'll get this final message that your contacts have been exported to a .csv file.

    You'll see a final message that your contacts have been exported to a csv file.

  14. You can use Excel to open your .csv file to see what's there. You can add more info to the csv file if you want, but be sure not to change the top row of headings. For more info about working with the .csv file, see Manually create your list of contacts in a csv file.

  15. Now that your contacts are in .csv format, you can import them to Outlook. See Import contacts from a .csv file, in this topic.

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Fix problems with importing contacts

  • You get an error message: If you try to import more than 2000 contacts at a time, you'll see an error message. Use a program such as Excel to open the CSV file, separate your list of contacts into smaller .csv files, and then import each newly created CSV file.

  • No contacts appear in Outlook: If you complete the import process but no contacts appear in Outlook, do the following:

    1. Locate the csv file you exported from your source email system, for example, from Google. If you exported contacts from Google, the default file name is contacts.csv.

    2. Use Excel to open the CSV file you exported from the source email system

    3. Check whether there is any information in the CSV file. If there isn't any information in the CSV file, the export from source email system didn't work. In that case:

      1. Delete the contacts.csv file.

      2. Export your contacts from the source email system again. If you are exporting from Google, be sure to choose to export All contacts, or the right group of contacts.

        Choose Outlook csv format to export contacts that you'll import into Outlook

      3. After you export your contacts, use Excel to open the CSV file and check that there's data. When you close the file, Excel will prompt you a few times with "are you sure you want to save it in CSV format?" Always choose Yes. If you choose No, the file will get messed up and you'll need to start over with a new contacts.csv file.

      4. Repeat the steps to import your contacts.csv file to Outlook.

  • Contacts are missing info: After you import your contacts, if you open Outlook and see that not all the info was imported, open the CSV file with Excel to see if the information was there.

    • You can edit the CSV file using Excel to add names and other missing information.

    • Outlook requires the column headings in the first row so don’t replace them with something else.

    • When you save the CSV file, Excel will prompt you a few times with "are you sure you want to save it in CSV format?" Always choose Yes. If you choose No, the file will get messed up and you'll need to start over again by exporting the list of contacts from the source email system.

    • Repeat the steps to import your contacts.csv file to Outlook. In step 5, when prompted out to handle duplicates, be sure to choose Replace duplicates with items imported.

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My ribbon says "Office 365" or looks different from the picture

  • If your ribbon says Office 365, you're using Outlook on the web, which looks like this:

    A picture of what the Outlook ribbon looks like for Office 365.

    To get to your contacts, from the app launcher Office 365 app launcher icon choose People. To import contacts to Office 365/Outlook on the web, choose Manage > Import contacts, and follow the prompts to import your contacts.

    A picture of what the ribbon looks like in Office 365 Outlook on the web.

  • If your ribbon doesn't say "Office 365," you could be using Outlook Web App. To get to your contacts, from the app launcher Office 365 app launcher icon choose People. The ribbon then looks like this:

    An image of what the People page looks like in Outlook Web App

    To import contacts to Outlook Web App, you need to use Outlook on your desktop. See How to get a copy of Outlook.

  • If your ribbon says Outlook.com, you're using an email service which was formerly Hotmail.com.

    A picture of the Outlook.com ribbon

    To get to your contacts, from the app launcher Office 365 app launcher icon choose People. Choose Start import and follow the instructions on the page to import your contacts. For more information, see Import contacts into an Outlook.com account.

  • If you're ribbon looks different from the above pictures, you could be using Mail app for Windows 10 ribbon looks like this:

    This is what the Windows 10 Mail app looks like.

    In Windows 10, contacts are stored in the People app. You cannot import or export contacts from the People app in Windows 10. If you'd like to request this feature be added to Mail for Windows 10, visit the Outlook Suggestion Box to leave your feedback in the Outlook on the web group. The Mail and Calendar team is actively monitoring this forum.

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How to get a copy of Outlook

These options are for people who don't have a copy of Outlook installed on their computer, but want to import contacts so you can access them in Outlook Web App. There are a few ways you can get a copy of Outlook installed on a computer:

  • Sign up for a free 30 day trial Office 365. It includes Outlook that you can download onto your computer. Add your email account to the trial version of Outlook and then import your contacts using one of the methods in this article. Outlook will sync with Outlook Web App and you'll see your contacts there. When you're done importing your contacts, let the trial run out so you aren't charged anything. You'll still have access to your contacts in Outlook Web App, but you'll no longer have access to Outlook on your desktop.

  • Find a friend who has Outlook on their computer. Add your email account to Outlook, and then import your contacts to your email account (not your friend's email account). Outlook will sync with Outlook Web App and you'll see your contacts there. When you're finished importing your contacts, remove your email account from your friend's version of Outlook. You'll still have access to your contacts in Outlook Web App.

  • Buy it. Outlook has a lot of great features for managing your email. However, this is an expensive purchase for importing contacts, and not recommended if that's your only reason for getting it.

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Leave us a comment

Were these steps helpful? If so, please let us know at the bottom of this topic. If they weren't, and you're still having trouble importing your contacts, tell us where you are trying to import contacts from. We'll use your feedback to double-check our steps.

See Also

Import contacts into an Outlook.com account

Export contacts from Outlook for Windows

Applies To: Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, Office 365, Office 365 Admin, Outlook 2010



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