Microsoft Outlook Import Contacts from Excel or CSV

In this article we are going to import contacts to Outlook from an Excel file. My file is currently in .xlsx format so we will first convert it to .csv format. Then, we will map it and import the contacts.

excel file with contacts to import
The Excel file with contacts to import

Pictured above is the file with the contacts I would like to import. It is dummy data, but made to be similar to something you might receive as a list of players on a sports team. It features separate First and Last name fields, an email address field, as well as each player’s position. The position will be discarded when we import the file. Note that the first row of the file is a header row – it has labels describing what data the column contains. This is very important. If your file does not have a header row, please add one. Without a header row, importing the contacts into Outlook will not work correctly.

Step 1: Save the File as a .CSV

If you already have your Excel file saved as a .csv, skip this step. If it is in any other format, you will need to save a copy as CSV (Comma Separated Value).

Demonstrating saving Excel file as CSV
Saving file as CSV

To save the file as a CSV, go to File > Save As and make sure “Save as type:” is set to “CSV UTF-8 (Comma delimited)(*.csv)”. Click Save. Remember the location you saved this file, you will need to find it to import the contacts to Outlook.

Step 2: Import the File in Outlook

Now that we have a CSV file, we need to import the contacts in Outlook. Start by opening the import wizard by clicking File > Open & Export > Import / Export

Selecting "Import from another program or file" in the wizard

When the wizard pops up, select “Import from another program or file” and click Next.

Selecting "Comma Separated Values" in the wizard

On the next screen, select “Comma Separated Values”. Click Next.

Selecting the file to import in the wizard

On this screen, browse to select the CSV file saved earlier. Choose your desired duplicates behavior. “Allow duplicates to be created” and “Do not import duplicate items” won’t result in data loss, but may result in duplicate contacts or only part of the file being imported. “Replace duplicates with items imported” may result in data loss. Make sure the file is closed and isn’t also open in Excel and click Next.

Selecting the contacts folder in the wizard

Next, select the Contacts folder of the email account you want to import to. This may say simply Contacts for an Exchange account or Contacts (This computer only) for other accounts. Click Next.

Demonstrating mapping fields step

On this screen, you need to map the fields of the CSV to the Outlook contacts. Click the checkbox next to the file you are importing. If the Map Custom Fields box does not pop up right away, click the Map Custom Fields … button. Drag the Values on the left to the corresponding Fields on the right. Once satisfied, click OK. Click Finish on the next screen.

The contacts are imported! Have a quick look over everything, and you are done. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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