Importing and Exporting Contacts with Outlook 2007 - 10 Dec 2008

Executive Summary:

Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 gives you easy access to contact information, and many people store a lot of information in Outlook because of this easy access to contact information. Learn how to make better use of Outlook contact information by exporting and importing the information to and from other programs such as Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access.

I use Microsoft Office Outlook nearly every day and have for more than a decade. I store information in Outlook that might be better stored elsewhere, but I like having contact information conveniently accessible. Because Outlook is usually open while I work, information I maintain there is typically easy to retrieve or query.

I also use Microsoft Excel a lot. Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 can export contacts in several different formats by going to File, Import and Export , Export to a File . There are options for exporting contacts to comma separated values (.csv) files, tab separated values (.txt), a specified Outlook personal folder file (.pst), as well as Excel and Microsoft Access formats.

Take note of the file type for Access and Excel, which Figure 1 shows. They both specify "97-2003," which Office 2007 renders in what it calls "compatibility mode." Outlook 2007 can't use the new default format of its Office 2007 suite peers for the purposes of exporting or importing data, so content to be imported from Excel or Access needs to be saved in the older 97-2003-ompatible format first. Exporting to an Access or Excel file will show all the available options for describing a contact entry. As Table 1 shows, there are nearly 100 fields available to configure for contacts. These fields—column headings in Excel or Access files—correspond to the various fields available when you add a new contact through the Outlook 2007 UI.

Importing a large number of contacts, especially from multiple sources, might require some management of duplicate entries. Outlook determines duplication through names and email addresses only. After navigating through File, Import and Export, Import from another program or file and selecting the file type you're importing (e.g., Access or Excel), you select one of the following three options for handling duplicates:

  • Replace duplicates with items imported
  • Allow duplicates to be created
  • Do not import duplicate items

If you allow duplicates to be created, which is the default, you might want to remove duplicates at a later time. Outlook doesn't provide a comprehensive mechanism for doing this but you can manipulate views in Outlook’s contacts folder to assist this manual process. If the duplicates were part of a single import, then they share a common modified date. By presenting the contacts in order of modified date, you can more easily capture the duplicates from that period. You could also export the entire contents of the contacts folder to another source, such as Access or Excel. Then remove the duplicates from the database or spreadsheet and re-import the cleaned contacts.

If you're importing from an Excel worksheet in which contacts were added manually, you might need to redefine a named range. The Microsoft article "Importing from Microsoft Excel requires named range in Outlook," ( explains this problem. To extend or name a new range in Excel 2007, you use the Name Manager under the Formula menu.

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