Only for superhumans: Outlook Contacts Export-Import (2007 to 2013)

a 5 minute read

outlook 2007 2013 contacts transfer

My bookkeeper upgraded from Outlook 2007 to Outlook 2013 that came as a part of Office 365 Personal. She came to me since the contacts wouldn’t appear and she didn’t know how to export-import them, all the menus were like a rocket science for her. I rushed in to help but even for me it took a while to export-import her contacts from Outlook 2007 to Outlook 2013 so that everything would work normally.


How do you export Outlook contacts?

outlook 2007 import exportYou have the Import-Export menu item which you as a bookkeeper might hopefully click. And then, boom, please select what kind of export do you want to do – to a file, to a .VCF file, to OPML etc (most people give up in this phase and return to their normal lives with coffee and cookies and surrender to Outlook and create their contacts manually later when they have the time). Microsoft, I mean, why do you ask for an ordinary normal everyday person like a bookkeeper to export their contacts to a .VCF file!?? What the hell is that?


The saga continues

So I figured we export her contacts via a .CSV file (since exporting to a .pst would be 4GB).

I imported the the CSV to 2013 using default field mapping. potato fieldOne would suggest the fields are OK and well-mapped since you exported from Outlook and import to Outlook. What I had in my contacts list after the import were a bunch of EMPTY CONTACTS. Deleted them all, run the import again and did a manual mapping of fields of the fields I figured would be used in her contacts. Fingers crossed.

Ask my bookkeeper what a field-mapping is and she’d say it means to draw a map of a field, like a potato field!


The import succeeded! Yay!

But wait. She starts to compose an e-mail and types in the first letters of the contact… no contact offers in the address box. She is frustrated.

I am an IT guy so I remember I have to bring over the .NK2 file, which from the eyes of a normal person is hidden to the faöäöäääöäöär deep dungeon (you can imagine the echo and darkness) of AppData folder which is even not visible for normal users. Did you expect my bookkeeper to dig her way in there and to copy-paste the .NK2 herself? One has to enable displaying of hidden folders and displaying of all file extensions in Windows just to be able to get here and find the right file!


Copied the NK2 and voila, the recently typed items are working! But wait again…

Some items do not appear. So I click on the Address button next to the address box. What do I see, there is an address book selected on the right hand side dropdown that says “(on this computer)” and displays no addresses. Well, bugger, I just imported a full .CSV worth of contacts and none of them appear here on the list “on this computer”. Did I import them to the cloud or some other computer accidentally via this computer? WTF. I’m beginning to become nervous and my bookkeeper senses this. She needs to send 160 e-mails today.


So I use the lifeline and turn to a friend named Google

Microsoft has an answer themselves! Good guy MS. Turns out that I have to manually select that I want to use a folder as an address book. This means performing some wizardry and witchcraft again which all I did under the big rolling eyes and open jaw of my dear bookkeeper who was already enjoying this with some coffee and cookies.


After setting the folder to be used as an address book you’d think everything is perfect

Guess what. Click on the Addresses when composing a new e-mail. The folder you assigned as an address book is selectable via the dropdown but not the default one. Tried to delete the other address book via a super well hidden place like contacts folder attributes, worked for once, then the “only on this computer” magically reappeared as default address book in the dropdown again!


If brains wont work, use power!

Now I used FULL FORCE, did a CTRL+A in the People section of her new shiny Outlook 2013 and DRAGGED all the contacts to the folder that was saying “on this computer only” . After this I deleted the other folder which was just named Contacts.


This bold move proved to be worth it

All contacts were nicely there now, from Outlook 2007 to Outlook 2013 and she was able to select a contact from the address book the way she had become used to and why you even have the Address button in Outlook at all.have you tried turning it on off again support


Total time spent 1 hour

The question of the day: Why only a superuser or system administrator is able to perform such a common task like exporting and importing Outlook contacts and address book and recently typed addresses for a product that has a tag personal?


To MS Outlook product owner

Dear sir/madam,

Please, in the future releases of Microsoft Office Outlook include a contacts transfer feature that works like this:

1. Export contacts: File -> Contacts -> Export (default settings CSV, hide all other stuff to “More settings”)-> File save location

2. Import contacts: File -> Contacts -> Import (default settings from CSV, hide all other options including “import recently typed items list” under the “More settings” button)-> Select file

3. Include the recently typed items list in the file

4. Have a difference between Outlook versions that are managed by IT admins and the ones sold at retail stores directly to end users like my dear bookkeeper.


The address book and contacts are a fundamental part of Outlook, which most people use for sending-receiving e-mails. It has been on the market for more than 12 years for now and the address book and contacts management looks pretty much the same since the beginning.

This could all be so much more simple!


The author worked 2,5 years as an IT support officer in an institution with +3000 users and has seen the bells and whistles of address books and contacts and recently typed addresses in an enterprise AD environment. More than once did he dig for the .NK2 from broken roaming profiles and set up global address books.

Post Author: Tom Pai