How to Move Contact Lists from Excel to Outlook

Outlook streamlines communication in a variety of ways. One of its useful features is the import of distribution lists. It allows you to contact multiple people at once, which accelerates emailing. Now, there is no need to fill in the recipient field manually! To enable the function, you should take contacts from a spreadsheet. Fortunately, this is a simple task.

You will learn to import emails from Excel to Outlook in no time — just visit for a detailed guide. Once the data is imported, it will be used to create contact lists. Here is what to do. 

Step 1. Prepare Your Spreadsheet

The data is not limited to email addresses, but it is more reasonable to create two columns — one with full names and the other one with emails. This allows you to copy and paste directly from the app:

  1. Select the column with the emails, or both the names and email addresses. Do not include the row containing the headers.
  2. Copy your selection (Ctrl+C).

Step 2. Import Your Spreadsheet

Now, the information has been copied to your clipboard. It is time to switch to Outlook and import it. Here is how: 

  1. Generate a Contact Group or Distribution List (the feature is called differently in different editions of the system). Alternatively, press CTRL+SHIFT+L.
  2. Choose “From Outlook Contacts…” in “Add Members”.
  3. Click in the text field next to “Members” and insert the spreadsheet data from the buffer (use CTRL+V).
  4. Check that each address has been transferred to a separate line in the Window. 
  5. Click OK to confirm. 
  6. It will be prompted to give a name to the new group. Enter it in the corresponding field. 
  7. Click “Save and close”. 

Alternative: Import as CSV

Rather than copying and pasting the information, you can save it to a file recognizable for Outlook. Create your email list in Excel and save it with the .csv extension. Now, you are ready for import. 

In Outlook, open your wizard for import and export by going to “File” > “Open & Export”. You will need to import the data from another program or file. Pick the CSV format (Comma Separated Values). Choose the destination for the data, and proceed to the next step.

Remember to Map Your Contacts

The final stage is the mapping of the contacts. This is necessary because Outlook may not recognize the information correctly otherwise. Every type of detail must be transferred to the right field. You may use the “Map Custom Fields …” option to match each field from the source to the corresponding field in Outlook Contacts. Just drag and drop the categories from left to right. Finalize with “OK” and click “Finish” for the import to begin. 

The Bottom Line

Spreadsheets allow us to keep a wide range of information in an organized way. Contact groups in Excel can be turned into distribution lists for Outlook. Create a CSV file, or copy and paste the information.

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