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The Complete Guide To Importing Contacts Into Android’s Gmail

The Complete Guide To Importing Contacts Into Android’s Gmail

OK, so maybe this isn’t a “complete” guide, but it brings together many of the bits and pieces of tutorials I have found for importing contacts into Gmail from several of the major email and address book applications. Feel free to add or suggest additional ones in the comments, but as I have mentioned in other tutorials, I am only posting to be helpful (use at your own risk, etc, etc). This does not make me your technical support for life.


With the release of Verizon’s DROID, and with several other new Android phones on the way, more and more people are making the switch from older PDAs and smart phones to Android. A big part of this involves moving contacts (names, addresses, and emails) over to Gmail, which syncs with Android. Many of us have accumulated contact information over time using other applications such as Outlook or Palm Desktop. This guide is meant to help people import contacts easily into Gmail, which will then sync automatically with their Android devices. Gmail offers a way to import contacts from other email applications and address books (up to 3000 contacts at a time).

The entire process can be divided into two main parts: (1) exporting contacts from the old program, and (2) importing contacts into Gmail. Part 1 depends on which program you are exporting from. Part 2 will be the same for all programs.

Part 1: Exporting contacts into a CSV file

CSV stands for “comma-separated value,” which is the type of file you will need to import your contacts into Gmail. The exported CSV file needs to list contact information in a certain order, but email programs such as Outlook will take care of this for you (I think Mozilla Thunderbird will too, but I haven’t tried it myself). Other programs, such as Apple’s Address Book and Palm Desktop, export contacts using a different format called vCard. It takes an extra step, but these exports can be converted to a CSV formatted for Gmail using a simple, free web application. So start by selecting from the email applications below.

Exporting contacts from Outlook

(tutorial credit: Microsoft)

  1. In Outlook, on the File menu, click Import and Export.
  2. Click Export to a file, and then click Next.
  3. Click Comma Separated Value (DOS), and then click Next.
  4. In the folder list, click the contacts folder you want to export, and then click Next.
  5. Choose a location on your computer to temporarily save the file.
  6. Type a name for the exported file, and then click OK.
  7. Click Next.
  8. Click Finish.

Exporting contacts from Apple’s Address Book

To export contacts from Apple’s Address Book application simply select all of the contacts you want to export, and drag them to your desktop. Now you need to convert the addresses from vCard format to Gmail’s CSV format. Click on this vCard to CSV Converter link. Click “browse,” and navigate to the file with all the contacts you just exported. Next to the word “Format” select “Gmail (CSV).” You don’t have to change anything else. Click the “convert” button and it will give you a file to download. This is the file you will use to import your contacts into Gmail in part 2.

Exporting contacts from Palm Desktop

First, start up the Palm Desktop program and click the Contacts or Address Book icon in the left-hand column (whichever one’s there). Then go to the File menu and select “Export . . .” Then pick “vCard” as your export type and save the file to someplace convenient. Now you need to convert the addresses from vCard format to Gmail’s CSV format. Click on this vCard to CSV Converter link. Click “browse,” and navigate to the file with all the contacts you just exported. Next to the word “Format” select “Gmail (CSV).” You don’t have to change anything else. Click the “convert” button and it will give you a file to download. This is the file you will use to import your contacts into Gmail in part 2.

Exporting contacts from other mail providers

Google has a good tutorial on how to export contacts from other email providers here.

Part 2: Importing CSV files into Gmail

Once you have a CSV formatted file containing your contacts, here is how you import it into Gmail (tutorial credit: Google):

  1. Sign in to Gmail.
  2. Click Contacts (located below your list of views, usually on the bottom, left) on any Gmail page.
  3. Click Import in the top portion of the Contact Manager.
  4. Click the Browse… or Choose File button and locate the CSV file you’d like to upload.
  5. Select the file and click the Import button.

Once you’ve successfully uploaded the document, Gmail will display the number of contacts imported, as well as any duplicates or contacts that could not be imported.This definitely beats entering all your addresses in by hand!

What about Calendars?

Someone asked me about transferring calendar info to Android, which can be done with any program that will synchronize with Google calendar at least once. It really depends on which mobile device or calendar program you are currently using, so here are a few options for syncing other devices with Google calendar (I’m sure there are many others):

31 thoughts on “The Complete Guide To Importing Contacts Into Android’s Gmail

  1. techprojim


    Thanks for sharing this, it was helpful. In my case, I wanted to export my contacts from Blackberry and import into the G1 / Android without using Outlook (or Google Sync). I had 220 contacts, so retyping them was out of the question. I discovered you can create a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file using Blackberry Manager. Here is how I did it:

    Hope that helps!

  2. mcleaver

    It doesn't work, unfortunately. In my Palm desktop I have several custom fields with e.g. spouse and children for contacts and these get exported in the vCard file but completely ignored when imported by Gmail. 🙁

  3. rikixiamen

    Even after imported all the contacts to the Gmail, I still can't find those contacts when I was composing message from the android Gmail, any suggestion how to sync it via PC?

    1. Tom

      This is a delayed response, but for any others who are having the same problem I suspect it is an issue with Gmail syncing with the Android phone. Most Android devices are set to sync regularly with Gmail, but you need a data connection for this to happen. I hope this helps.

  4. Laura

    Thanks, Tom. This worked like a charm and took about 5 mins. Unfortunately I've been using Palm OS for about 12 yrs and I had about 1100 contacts. Half came across as “Unnamed”. I started editing, and it was so slow that thought I would lose my mind. So I quit. Then I decided to see if I could edit the conversion file that Google creates. It's just an ordinary Excel file and it took me about an hour to edit the whole thing. I deleted all the entries in G-Mail, and reconverted. Done and done!! Thanks so much. Now on to my calendar…..

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  6. Legaleee

    Hi – my version of Palm desktop (4.2) does not allow me to export in a vcard format. My choices are aba,csv, tab, and aba. I tried using csv but google could not import.

  7. Pingback: Life After 680 ... G2, BB 9700, Other ... Help! - Page 3 - Treo Forum - Treonauts

  8. Ickaakci

    I don’t want to use gmail. I want to save my contacts directly to the phone. You can not assign ringtones to the contacts in gmail.

  9. David

    there isnt really a way to import telephone contacts into the correct field in gmail, therfore…how do you get telephone contacts into your android?

  10. jlee

    Thanks for this. Imported from my Palm T2 my 200+ contacts/phone numbers/addresses quite well to my gmail contacts for use in my HTC android phone. I’m trying to figure out how to manually add a few contacts to my phone that I want a special ringtone for or a contact picture. Still working on that…

  11. Evan

     Hi, obviously I am a bit slow, I have only just decided to move from a treo 650 to android.

    Your list seems to miss two points.
    1) From the Palm Desktop software, you can export all details, fields, columns to .csv.
      (You may want to “tidy the file” and include the column headings, so you can identify what they match in the Android people app.)
    2) There is a free android “import contacts” app that reads .csv

  12. Mark

    I had a .csv file I had exported from my iPhone.  I dont’ want my gmail contacts synched with my phone (WAY too many that I rarely use; but, don’t want to delete).  I wanted a way to import the contacts from my CSV.  

    These instructions are for t-mobile; but, will work for any other service that lets you import Outlook CSV files.I tried a couple of different apps, the free ones; but they either crashed or didn’t work.  Here’s what *did* work.Reformat your CSV to use these headers (the Outlook CSV format): log into your T-Mobile account and import the contacts from your Outlook formatted CSV file. (Mobile Life>contacts>Add/Import Contacts>Import Contacts from Another Address Book>Browse and Upload CSV file)

    Then use your phone to sync to “T-Mobile Contacts Backup”.


  13. Kimberly Patrizi

    I moved from BBerry to Android phone.  RadioShack was nice enough to sync contacts from my bbrry directly to phone.  But now can’t figure out how to get all that are on phone to sync with Google Calendar on PC.  New ones I create on phone or PC are synching, but all ones that were imported directly to phone from bberry are not… help :}

    1. tom4cam

      Since the Android system is designed by Google, all your Gmail contact should automatically transfer over as long as you have wifi or some kind of Internet connection. I’m assuming you are using the same Google account for your Gmail and your Android phone.

  14. Jrfranks

    I can see all of my ‘people’ contacts from my old Palm Treo 755p, but the ‘business’ contacts never show up. We’ve done 1/2 dozen transfers without luck.
    I downloaded ‘Import Contacts’ app from Market, but it doesn’t see the .csv file I loaded, it is only looking for something called vCard files. It returns an error message that no .vcf file was found.

    1. Tree_whish

      you can import your csv. file into gmail and exported again but by choosing the option export to vCard format,then put it on ur mobile on the SD this it will find it and won’t return error as it did with u.

  15. Pingback: Howto : Import Contacts and Phonebook To Gmail, Import contacts and phonebook to gmail

  16. Smith

    Converted my Zire 71 contact list to Gmail contact list with little effort using the instructions on this page. The only glitch was that I had to highlight my contact list on the Zire 71 in order to export. The Gmail list then automatically updated my new galaxy nexus phone. We’ve come a long way!

  17. Past Palm

    I share your frustration with finding a decent syncing system. I was a long-time (since 1994) Palm user and couldn’t face making the switch to a smartphone. I researched like crazy until I found this app called B-Folders. I was able to just *import* all of my Contacts (it even put stuff into the right fields!) and my Memos (over 1,200) from Palm desktop (no re-keying). I was transferring to a Mac so it used “tab&return” instead of CSV, but it did it flawlessly. Amazing.

    Their nested folder system works just like Palm’s categories (only you can have an unlimited number of them and can combine Contacts, Memos, and Passwords all the in the same folder if you want). It’s more versatile than Palm (it has this feature of “customizable cards” to keep all sorts of stuff).

    I had been using an encrypted password program in addition to Palm before – now it’s all in this B-Folders program which even auto-fills your passwords into the login pages you’ve stored.

    Can you tell I really like it? 🙂 And it’s all “off the cloud” secure, just like Palm. And easy backups provide a great sense of security – especially when I’ve never had to use them! 🙂

  18. Dieter

    Thank you this was really helpful. I needed to transfer address book data from Palm to Android & Gmail.  The Palm desktop had both the Vcard as well as the CSF file export version. When I designated the CSF the import to Google contacts did not work. The Vcard export version work flawless.

    It was great to see when the addresses appeared on my Android contacts.

    Thanks Dieter

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