How to import contacts to Outlook from Excel in 3 steps

In this article, I'll show you how to import contacts from Excel to Outlook 2016-2010. You'll find three easy steps for getting your contacts exported. Convert your data to .csv format, import them to Outlook with a special wizard and match Excel headers to the corresponding fields.

In September, we published an article showing how to export Outlook contacts to Excel. Today's post looks at importing contacts from Excel to Outlook.

Excel is a convenient place for storing your contact details. You can process your data in many different ways: merge several files with emails, delete duplicates, update fields in all items simultaneously, combine several contacts into one, benefit from using formulas and sorting options. After your data are shaped the way you need, you can export contacts from Excel to Outlook. There are three main steps you need to follow:

Prepare your Excel contact data for being imported to Outlook

The easiest way to get your contacts ready for adding from Excel to Outlook is to save the workbook in CSV format. This approach works for any version of Office and lets you forget about some issues like named ranges or blank contacts.

  1. In your workbook, open the worksheet with the contact details you want to import to Outlook 2010-2013.
    Open the worksheet with the contact details you want to import
  2. Click File and select the Save As option.
    Select the Save As option under File
  3. Pick a location for saving your file.
  4. You will see the Save As dialog box. Choose the option CSV (Comma delimited) from the Save as type drop-down list and press Save.
    Choose the option CSV (Comma delimited) from the Save as type drop-down list
  5. You will see the following message from Excel: The selected file type does not contain workbooks that contain multiple sheets.
    You will see this message trying to save a book with multiple sheets as CSV file

    This message tells you about the limitation of the CSV file. Please don't worry, your original workbook will stay as is. Just click OK.

  6. After clicking OK, you are likely to see another message saying: Some features in your workbook might be lost if you save it as CSV (Comma delimited).
    See the message Some features in your workbook might be lost if you save it as CSV

    This info-notification can be ignored. Thus, you can click Yes to get your current worksheet saved in the CSV format. The original workbook (the .xlsx file) will be closed and you may also notice that the name of your current sheet will change.

  7. Close your new CSV file.

Now you are ready to add contacts to Outlook.

Import contacts from Excel to Outlook

On this step you'll see how to import contacts from Outlook to Excel using the Import and Export Wizard.

  1. Open Outlook, go to File > Open & Export and click the option Import/Export.
    Click the option Import/Export
  2. You'll get Import and Export Wizard. Select the option Import from another program or file and then click the Next button.
    Select the option Import from another program or file
  3. On the Import a File step of the wizard, pick Comma Separated Values and click Next.
    Pick Comma Separated Values
  4. Click on the Browse button and find the .csv file you want to import.

    On this step you will also see radio buttons under Options allowing you to not import duplicates, replace existing contacts or create the duplicated items. If you happened to export your contact information to Excel and want to import them back to
    Outlook, please make sure to select the very first radio button.
    Pick Comma Separated Values

  5. Click the Next button to pick the destination for your emails. The Contacts folder should be selected by default. If it's not, you can scroll up or down to locate the file. It's also possible to choose a different folder.
    Pick the Contacts folder
  6. After clicking Next, you'll see the checkbox Import "Your File Name.csv" into folder: Contacts. Please make sure to select it.
    Tick the checkbox Import

Please don't click Finish yet. You'll need to associate some of the columns in your CSV file to the contact fields in Outlook. This will import your contacts from Excel to Outlook exactly as you want. Keep reading to get the steps.

Match Excel columns to the corresponding Outlook fields

To make sure that the details from your imported contacts appear in the corresponding fields in Outlook, use the Map Custom Fields dialog box on the last step of Import and Export Wizard.

  1. Select Import "Your File Name.csv" into folder: Contacts to activate the button Map Custom Fields.... Click on this button to see the corresponding dialog box appear.
    Click on the Map Custom Fields button
  2. You'll see the From: and To: panes on the Map Custom Fields dialog. From: contains the column headers from your CSV file. Under To, you'll see the standard Outlook fields for contacts. If a field matches a column in the CSV file, you'll see your column under Mapped from.
    See the From: and To: sections on the Map Custom Fields dialog
  3. The fields Name, First Name, and Last Name are standard Outlook fields, so if the contact details in your file have any of those contact names, you can proceed.
  4. You'll probably also need to do some manual mapping. For example, in your file the contact's phone is in the column Phone number. Outlook has numerous fields for phone numbers, such as Business, Home, Car and so on. So you can find a suitable match by scrolling within the To: pane.
    Scroll down in the To: pane and find the necessary Phone option
  5. When you find the correct option, for example, Business Phone, just select Phone number under From. Then drag and drop it to Business Phone in the To: pane.
    Map the field by drag-n-dropping

    Now you can see the Phone number column header next to the Business Phone field.
    see the Phone number column header next to the Business Phone field

  6. Drag the other items from the left pane to the suitable Outlook fields and click Finish.

Your contacts are successfully added into Outlook from Excel.

Now you know how to export Excel contacts to Outlook 2010-2013. You just need to create a .csv file with the emails, import it to Outlook and map the corresponding fields. If you come across any difficulty when adding the contacts, feel free to post your question below. That's all for today. Be happy and excel in Excel.

43 Responses to "How to import contacts to Outlook from Excel in 3 steps"

  1. Angelique says:

    Hello, thanks for this clear instruction. Unfortunately I have tried everything, but all values on the left hand side are aligned into one line/field. I have tried several times by changing the regional settings/list seperator but nothing works (I followed all steps mentioned here: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2010-outlook/csv-to-ms-outlook-2010-all-info-in-the-same-field/fb4a03b7-5311-44b1-bec4-bf05ec0b0187. But nothing seems to work.) Any idea what it could be?

  2. John Egyawan says:

    This was very helpful thank you very much

  3. Tom says:

    Is there any way to save the mapping so I don't need to repeat the field mapping process? What is the purpose of the Default Map button? Can I create a custom default map?

  4. Maureen Girdley says:

    Thanks for making this so easy. I spent at least 30 min trying to do it through Microsoft and was unsuccessful. This instruction was easy to follow and worked perfectly!

  5. Steve Sheppard says:

    I have tried this many times. Even set up a dummy spreadsheet.

    Each time I get the message at the end saying, [Outlook could not complete the operation because the service provider does not support it]

    I use Office365 and constantly have the most up-to-date versions.

    This always worked fine in office 2010.

    Any ideas? Thanks :)

    • Tracey Majesky says:

      Following. I've wasted 2 days trying to figure this out and I get the same error message. If you have the solution please let me know!

      • Tej says:

        Try saving the outlook document and closing the file. It worked for me. Also, I think data needs to be formatted as a table in outlook.

  6. Hany says:

    given error message

    could not complete the operation because the service provider dose not support it

    any help?

  7. Werner says:

    Hello I do get the same error as Steve and Hany; "Each time I get the message at the end saying, [Outlook could not complete the operation because the service provider does not support it]" Is there another way around it?

  8. Carolyn says:

    I have 21 contacts and only 5 of them will import. Is there a limit of 5? How do I get all 21 in the same group?

  9. via says:

    Thank you very much. Nicely detailed

  10. Richard says:

    When I import from excel I not only get the contacts but also a ton of blank contacts. Is there a way of having the import only grab the cells that have names and not blank cells? Thanks

  11. rajesh says:

    Works in Outlook 2010..Thanks for sharing

  12. Zork Hun says:

    My question was how to import from Excel
    This post is showing how to import from CSV.
    It is not the same thing.
    When saving an Excel file into CSV format, there is a big warning box advising that some features will be lost.
    I do not want to lose those features so that I will not end up with names such as Lud?k Jurkech instead of Luděk Jurkech.
    an alternative answer to my question would be how to control the code-page used by CSV files

  13. Jeanette says:

    I followed the instructions and everything came out ok. Only when I open a contact I see the zip code is before the city and state in the card. How can I change that?

  14. Rahmani says:

    Very useful info, thanks

  15. Poon says:

    Very clear instructions, thanks. How can I create a separate sub-folder in the "contacts" folder to accommodate the newly imported data?

  16. Poon says:

    can we change the field name?

  17. Kaz says:

    Very clear instructions - easy to follow. Worked a treat saving me hours of copy and paste xx

  18. Cheryl says:

    Me too followed your step by step and still doesn't import my email address to Outlook

  19. Cheryl says:

    I GIVE UP. I will have to just copy and paste I have been working on this for days, researching and researching still nothing works.

  20. Melanie says:

    Is it possible to have the destination be a specific group in the contacts?

  21. terry says:

    Need recognised headers for all columns if it's to be a recognised file structure!!!

  22. Irene Gurne says:

    thank you for making our life easy and happy! keep on helping spreading good knowledge! God Bless

  23. Steffi Shydl says:

    Hi,

    your explanations are good and clear. I have problems with point 2. Outlook does not recognises the different fields/columns of the csv file. It only recognises all 4 columns (first name, last name, organisaiton, mail address) as only one field and thus puts all the information in the title of the contact card in outlook.
    What can I change on my csv file to make it recognisable to outlook?

    Thanks, S.

  24. Daniel says:

    Hi,

    In my excel sheet I have several columns I put into the 'notes' section when I add a contact manually. Is there a way to do this using this importing feature?

    Thanks,D

  25. tanja says:

    Thanks!!! I tried a dozen of suggested ways but only yours worked!

  26. Amy Hyland says:

    Can you set this up so that it can refresh with newly added contacts and emails or will you have to re done this every time?

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