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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!

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

  1. Sandra Eader March 1, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    Your site looks great! Love the blog..

  2. Mathew April 9, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    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 June 14, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    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?

    • groovinJackman June 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

      @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 June 15, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    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.

    • groovinJackman June 16, 2011 at 7:29 am #

      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 October 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

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

  6. Beppe November 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Thank you very very much!!!

  7. bsp131 November 11, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    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 November 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    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 January 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    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 January 11, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    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 March 19, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Nice TIP, Thanks!

  12. Aman March 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    gr8 work dude… saved a lot of my time…

  13. Tapan April 2, 2012 at 8:51 am #

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

  14. Emilie April 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    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 April 6, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    Muchas gracias/Thanks

  16. Alik April 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

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

    • Steve Krause April 12, 2012 at 7:13 am #

      Awesome! You are very welcome. That you for the feedback!

  17. Dirk April 14, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    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 April 20, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    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 April 20, 2012 at 12:10 am #

      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 April 26, 2012 at 12:44 am #

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

  20. sandy May 28, 2012 at 5:40 am #

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

    very very thanks……….

  21. haseeb June 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

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

  22. bsp131 June 2, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    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 June 9, 2012 at 3:07 am #

    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 June 16, 2012 at 5:42 am #

    hw do i perfom “Step 2

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

    • dunbull July 3, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

      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 December 17, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

        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 June 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    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.

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