How to import Outlook contacts to another Outlook or Gmail

After you export Outlook contacts using guidelines from this article, there is almost always the second step – importing these into another email client. This article shows how to quickly import Outlook contacts to most popular email clients:

Import Outlook contacts

Contact file types

Before I dive into the import proper, I would like to share a few words about the file types which can be used for contact import.

Like I already mentioned in the article about exporting Outlook contacts, there are three most common file formats that you can use to import contacts:

  1. CSV – a simple file with an array of contacts with comma-separated values. It’s the most common one, since it’s extremely easy to edit contacts included in it and to import them to any email client.
  2. PST – usually contains more mailbox item types like emails, tasks, etc. It’s mostly used for a makeshift backup and migration (here’s why I’m not overly optimistic about this kind of PST use).
  3. VCF – a slightly more elaborate file format which is closer to a business card. It can contain, for example, the contact’s photo. However, it’s trickier to handle these files in bulk. On the other hand, iPhones support import from this file format, while it’s not possible to import via CSV on those devices.

Importing Outlook contacts from Excel

If you are going to use a CSV file to import your contacts into an email client, you can freely modify and update your contacts using Excel. A CSV file is the simplest form of a spreadsheet and any program that lets you manipulate spreadsheet data will come in handy if you want to make some changes.

If you want to edit your CSV file in Excel, follow these two good practices to avoid problems:

  • Start by exporting a contact list from Outlook – this way, you will have all the columns you need and you won’t have to map custom fields to be able to import everything correctly.
  • After editing the list in Excel, make sure you save it as the same, CSV file, format.

Import contacts to Outlook

To import contacts to Outlook, you need to use the same built-in tool that is used to export them: Import and Export Wizard.

  1. Click File on the Outlook ribbon:
01 - Outlook ribbon, file tab
  1. Go to Open & Export and launch the Wizard by clicking Import/Export:
Outlook import export settings
  1. Choose Import from another program or file and click Next.
Outlook import wizard
  1. Click Browse and locate the CSV with contacts you wish to import into Outlook. The three options below control what happens if on the import list, there is a contact that already exists in Outlook.
Import Outlook contacts to Outlook - choose file
  1. Next, choose where import the contacts to – it can be any folder, but it’s best to stick to the Contacts folder and its subfolders.
Import Outlook contacts to Outlook - choose target folder
  1. In the last step, you can finish setting up the wizard and let the tool import your contacts to Outlook. Optionally, you can map custom fields if there are any in your CSV.
Import Outlook contacts to Outlook - import a file

Import contacts to Outlook on the web

Importing contacts to Outlook on the web doesn’t require you to use a sophisticated wizard. It’s pretty straightforward:

  1. Open Outlook on the web, go to the Contacts tab and click the Import contacts button.
Import Outlook contacts to Outlook on the web 01
  1. Find your CSV file with contacts and click Import. After the process is completed, you will see a notification screen specifying how many contacts have been successfully imported.
Import contacts to Outlook on the web 02

Import contacts to Gmail

If you import your contacts to Gmail, they will be available for you when you compose your emails (which is quite obvious), but that’s not the only reason to import your Outlook contacts there. If you import the contacts to Gmail, and turn on the contact sync on your Android device, they will be available for you there as well.

  1. While in Gmail, click the Google apps button and then go to Contacts.
Import Outlook contacts to Gmail
  1. Click the Import option in the left-hand side menu.
Import contact CSV to Gmail
  1. Finally, click Select file and find your CSV file filled with contact details. You can apply a label to distinguish the new contacts from the ones you already had on your Gmail contact list. Click Import to get the new contacts to your Gmail account.
Import contacts to Gmail - salect file and label

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