How-To

How to Import Multiple Contacts into Gmail from Outlook, Mail or Thunderbird

Moving from Outlook, Mail or Thunderbird to Gmail can be a real chore. If you have all of your contacts saved into a single vCard or vcf file exported from Outlook or Mail or whatever email client you were using before, then importing contacts into Gmail is significantly easier. But if you made the unfortunate mistake of exporting each of your contacts as its own .vcf file, then it’s going to be a major pain to import each vCard individually.

Luckily, you don’t have to. This groovy How-to will show you the fastest and easiest ways to get vCards, vcf files and exported email contacts into Gmail.

Update 10/16/2012: Gmail has changed its look and feel since we first wrote this tutorial. We’ve updated it with new screenshots and details pertinent to the new Gmail. 

Importing vCards into Gmail

Importing contacts into Gmail couldn’t be easier if you have an exported vCard or csv file.

Step 1

Click Contacts. If you are using the Compact display density in Gmail like me, the Contacts link is hiding in a drop-down menu that appears when you click Gmail in the top-left.

import multiple contacts in Gmail

 

Click More and choose Import…

how to import multiple vcf files in gmail

Step 3

Click Choose File and browse to the vcf or csv file that you exported from another email program.

importing multiple csv contacts in google mail 

Step 4d

Choose a group to add the contacts to (optional) and Click Import. Done!  Your new contacts will automatically be added to the group called Imported MM/DD/YYYY. Click the new group on the left to confirm the contacts have been imported and sort them into more meaningful groups.

How to import many contacts into gmail at once

 

 Note: If you’re having trouble with vcf files, try exporting as a CSV instead. This often solves the error message: “Sorry, we could not recognize the file format.”

Combining Multiple .VCF or .CSV Files for Importing

Unfortunately, there isn’t any batch import for vcf and csv contacts in Gmail. A workaround for this is to take all your vCard or exported contact files and combine them into a single file and then upload that one master file.

Step 1

Launch a command prompt by Clicking the Start button and typing Cmd and pressing Enter.

Step 2

Go to the directory where your exported contacts are located.

Step 3

Type:

COPY *.csv combinedfile.csv

and Press Enter. Or, if you’re combining .vcf files, type

COPY *.vcf combinedfile.vcf

and Press Enter. Import Multiple=

Step 4

Upload the newly created csv or vcf file using the steps above.

 Import Multiple=

Combining Exported Contacts in OS X

To perform this same task in OS X, launch Terminal, go to the directory that has your exported contacts and type:

fmt -sp *.vcf > combinedfile.vcf

…or

fmt -sp *.csv > combinedfile.csv

Import Multiple=

And that’s all. Congratulations, you just saved yourself an afternoon’s worth of menial data entry!  VERY groovy!


74 Comments

74 Comments

  1. Sandra Eader  

    Your site looks great! Love the blog..

  2. Mathew  

    Worked like a charm…. was struggling with this problem for some time now , you workaround was so simple and nice , keep up the good work … and thanks a ton !!!

  3. barbara  

    thank you. you were the only site that really explained how to do it. I just have one problem. I can’t find the new file that was created. can you help?

    • @barbara are you using the OS X or Windows steps? Either way, the file should be in the same folder as the originals. Can you tell me what you’re typing in step 3?

  4. barbara  

    I am using windows. I found the file but can’t import it to Gmail. When I check the file, the size is 0 kg.

    • hmmm — can you confirm that you are in the correct folder when you’re at the cmd prompt? If you run the command in step 3 and there are no .csv’s in the directory, this might turn up a 0 KB file.

  5. Rod  

    Worked like a charm. You’re a champion. Thanks

  6. Beppe  

    Thank you very very much!!!

  7. bsp131  

    thanks so much. I have been struggling with this for a while and you were the first person who explained how to do it in a way that I understood. I transferred all of my files. Now I just have to find a way to consolidate the duplicates without losing data. If you know an easy way, I would appreciate hearing it.

  8. JP  

    I have not used DOS in years. I would not have thought it could be so simple ! After searching and searching I found your page and five minutes later my problem was solved.
    To the poster above having trouble with duplicates; I had the same issue and found an add-on for Thunderbird.
    I needed to clean up my contacts from an Iphone and exporting them to both Gmail and windows7 pathetic wab.exe did not help with the mess. Opening in Excel was an exercise in futility for me.
    I hoped that importing in to Thunderbird might work and with Duplicate Contact Manager 0.8.1 as an add-on(It’s free) it was somewhat possible.
    It is pretty clunky and featureless (does not merge and has issues with lists over one thousand) but with my 1800 entries it seemed to manage fairly well.

    Thanks so much to Jack for his command line solution.

  9. barbara  

    I just used your method to import a group of contacts to gmail again. the first part worked great but when I imported the contacts, gmail took forever and then froze. I had to restart and do it all over. It is now taking over 20 minutes and still not finished. What is it with gmail that they cannot have a site that is more user frienly.

  10. barbara  

    I tried to import again today after my unsuccessful attempt yesterday. I stupidly deleted the combinedfile and when I reentered the command, it stated that it could not find file. Please help.

  11. Goyzera  

    Nice TIP, Thanks!

  12. Aman  

    gr8 work dude… saved a lot of my time…

  13. Tapan  

    Worked like a charm! You saved me lot of time.
    Thanks a ton!

  14. Emilie  

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You literally saved my life! After importing 500 seperate vcard files into my gmail, with 500 more to go I was desperate. You have no idea how much I owe you for this! THANK YOU!

  15. Cassiel  

    Muchas gracias/Thanks

  16. Alik  

    Many thanks, it’s really helped me. THANKS!!!!!!!

  17. Dirk  

    Wow, I was about to import 120 contacts one by one and already thinking about typing the all again until I found your post. Great, thanks!

  18. Demetri  

    Didnt work for me. Everything works fine till the part where the combined file is created. But when i upload that combined file to my gmail nothing gets uploaded. Any help appreciated

    • JP  

      You said “upload” to your gmail.
      How exactly are you doing that ?
      Perhaps it’s just your wording but “importing” as described at the top of the page is the way to do it.
      Does that make sense ?

  19. manny  

    thanks. your tips helped me alot . you saved me time and money . 🙂

  20. sandy  

    reallly excellent for me it has helped so munch for me……….

    very very thanks……….

  21. haseeb  

    thank u very much…a big problem is now solved !!!!!!

  22. bsp131  

    I have successfully done this before. however, when I just tried it, I kept on getting the message that the files could not be found.

    I save all my contacts in a folder named contacts in my C drive.
    I cut and pasted the command that you gave and got the message. Please help.

  23. Math T  

    Thank you very much, I needed to combine 571 .vcf files into one and your instructions worked without any faults or need to install anything. Now I can get my Google Nexus filled with all my previous Nokia Contacts. Thanks!

  24. rdkaush  

    hw do i perfom “Step 2

    Go to the directory where your exported contacts are located.”
    pls explain i am new to dos

    • dunbull  

      once you open the cmd function, For instance, mine shows C:UsersJames

      then enter CD vcard

      Here, I have saved the vcard folder inside the James folder.
      Hope this helps

      • Adri  

        This is where I am confused as well…Do I enter CD vcard or am I supposed to enter where I have my information saved…? Thanks!

  25. Musab  

    You are a darling. Thank you very much. I have been searching for hours now before I came across this posting. It solved 80% of my problems. I have to say that I wouldn’t have bought Lumia 800 if I know how much I have to struggle to get my contacts on it.
    Thank you once again.

  26. JuPu  

    very very very thanks 🙂

  27. bhagwant  

    cannot see the combined vcf file. OS is win xp sp3. please help

  28. i combined all… but cannot import into gmail!!! :-S can u brief a little more!!!

  29. W Earb  

    Great time saving suggestion. Thank you.

  30. Bethany  

    What I am trying to achieve is to add multiple vCard files to my Outlook 2010. Has anyone ever done this? Outlook will not let me import but the first vCard in the list when I attempt to import them all.

    • AmandoP  

      I remember using Copytrans Contacts for that.

      • Bethany  

        That did the trick. Thank you!

      • Bethany  

        That did the trick. Thank you!

  31. Georges  

    Oh my god, thanks man. Simple. Effective. And fast. 🙂

  32. Kris  

    Wow! What a great step-by-step manual…
    You really made my day! 🙂

    • Kris  

      Thank you ever so much, by the way! 🙂

  33. Kriishna Prasadd  

    Thanks Jack, you have just used common sense. It really worked out for me. Thanks a ton

  34. johnz  

    Great idea! I was able to combine my vcards into one file, and I checked that it is big. When I import into gmail, I can find it and select it just fine. After clicking ‘Import’ it immediately goes back to the normal contact manager screen and doesn’t show any contacts at all. If I follow the same process with and individual file, it works fine. Any thoughts?

    • hmm unfortunately i’m not sure what’s going amiss here.
      i’ll try recreating your problem when i get a chance
      or you could send me a combined vcard you’ve created and i can take a look at it (obviously don’t send me the ones with all your real contacts in it — i don’t want em! :-))

      • I have the same problem, have you got a solution? I have 1300 vcf files and I tried also to split them. I am on a mac but the CSV file looks fine…
        tks

        • I wasn’t able to recreate the problem with my contacts. Could you maybe send me your combined vcf file so I can examine it? [email protected]

          What are you exporting from? Outlook?

  35. Great advice, thanks for saving me so much time.

  36. Just did it!
    Thnx!

  37. Ankit  

    Thanks a lot!

    I just moved from Symbian to Android. Both symbian and Android can handle multiple numbers or email in the same contact (differently though), but there isn’t any easy way to move from symbian to android without loosing anything (at least they make us believe that). I had wasted several of my weekends exporting and cleaning up my google account, but the same problem kept coming up.

    What finally worked for me?
    1) From Nokia phone, select all contacts and copy to external memory as .vcf. The send via BT option is not present on my phone.
    2) The .vcf files are copied to e:/others/contacts
    3) Copied the contacts folder to my desktop (pc suite or usb mode)
    4) Joined the .vcf files as suggested by you.
    5) Imported in gmail contacts.
    6) find and merge duplicates from gmail contacts.
    7) Done!!

    Maybe there will be some duplicate information still in the contacts, but my concern is not to loose anything. I will eventually clean up as and when I notice.

    Any intermediate software or tools between Nokia-Google is hurting. I opened a vcf (exported directly from my phone) which I knew had multiple mobile nos. in notepad. I could see all the details, which none of the Windows Contacts application, Thunderbird or Outlook could display (only 1 mobile phone no popped in all of them).

    But the direct export of the vcf to google worked. I would not have even tried for the 500+ vcf files I had, if I had to import individually 🙂

    Thanks again!!

    • ellie wong  

      thanks a lot coz i was nokia user and now andriod!

  38. shameem ap  

    thanks a lot

  39. Muchiri  

    Whaaaaah! This worked like a charm! Thank you very much!

    I struggled a whole day to get my contacts from symbian to android. Almost bought funny software for 50 dollars.

    Many thanks!

    Muchiri
    Nairobi, Kenya

  40. Sentil  

    Many Thanks. Combining vard files using DOS was very cool. It saved me time and money. I did it for my contacts in samsung mobile into iPhone. Again Thanks a Lot!!!

  41. Sentil  

    Many Thanks. Combining vard files using DOS was very cool. It saved me time and money. I did it for my contacts in samsung mobile into iPhone. Again Thanks a Lot!!!

  42. freelancer  

    Thanx man…it solved my problem

  43. Andy  

    How To Import Multiple Contacts To Gmail From Vcards (alternative method)

    I used this method to import all my contacts from 123-reg to Gmail.

    1. Open the contacts you wish to export, select (in batches if you have hundreds) your contacts and send as Vcard to your email address.

    2. Save these zipped files to your computer, then unpack them to a folder on your desktop, name this folder ‘contacts’

    3. Next, open up Notepad and type:
    Copy *.vcf mycontacts.vcf

    Name this file ‘copy’ and save it as a .bat file

    4. Drag the .bat file into the ‘contacts’ folder that you created on your desktop.

    5. Open the ‘contacts’ folder, locate the windows batch file called ‘copy’ and double click it.
    This will batch all your contacts together in one file which is named ‘mycontacts’.

    6. Open your Gmail account and go to Contacts-More-Import then upload the file ‘mycontacts’ from the folder you created on your desktop.

    7. That’s it, have a brew and pat yourself on the back.

  44. Shaz  

    Hi, I just tried this and it seemed to work fine…but not all of the information populated the correct fields? the e-mail address and addresses of some appeared in a box to the right instead of in the fields on the left?? Please help….Thanks…

    • Andy  

      Hi Shaz, Not sure if you’re responding to my method or the previous one.

      The only problem I faced with my contacts not appearing correctly in Gmail, was that some of the email address’ that I’d imported didn’t have names associated with them.
      Just click on that email address and you’ll be taken to a page where you can edit that contacts details, click on add name, type in the name and you’re done, both columns should now be populated in ‘contacts’.
      Hope this is what you were on about.

  45. siva  

    thanx a million, u are grt

  46. Prabhat  

    You are the man!!

  47. phandrade  

    thanks, this article helped me a lot!

  48. Mike  

    DOES NOT WORK WITH WINDOWS 7

  49. I owe you a beer! The .csv was inserting emails into the wrong spot, so I exported .vcf from WinLiveMail. It spit out individual cards though.
    This little trick is brilliant.

    Thanks

  50. Andrea  

    Thanks a lot..! it worked perfect even with *.vcf contacts..
    Greetings!!!

  51. mubashir  

    awsome man really worked so simply 🙂 thanks 🙂

  52. Arif  

    it works very well just put a space after “COPY”

  53. Wonderful!!! 🙂

  54. L  

    OMG Thank you.

  55. A simple DOS command. You proved that simplicity is indeed ultimate sophistication!

  56. nipun  

    thank you . it worked fine

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