How to move your mail infrastructure away from Lotus Notes

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Exporting Outlook 2013 contacts as VCF cards for import into GMAIL, Hotmail, Yahoo, IBM Worse, etc.

Exporting Outlook contacts is convoluted and far more difficult than it should be.

If you do a Google search on synchronizing your Outlook address book with Gmail or others you will find that the recommend methodology is to export the contacts as a CSV file to be imported. This method will create the basic contact records. However, the records will not contain the rich meta data such as photos and there is a good chance that the import will probably fail due to some incompatibility issue.

The better way!

Using the method outlined below will allow you to export your contacts using the standard vCard method transferring images and other rich data associated with vCards.

Step 1. Copy your favorite contacts to your local contacts.

* The Global Address Book is not your Local Address book!  
Your Outlook contacts will most probably be empty! You online / offline contacts (GAL) is not the same as your local contacts.

 a. Click on People.

b. In My Contacts click on Contacts

The result, in all probability, may be as below and will be empty.

c. Open the Online / Offline Address Book (GAL)

Select the most appropriate list from the drop down for example: All Users.

d. Right Click on the contacts and in the drop down select "Add to Contacts"

You can of course select multiple contacts and use the "Add to Contacts" drop down. You may get some pop up errors that in most cases can be ignored. If you update an existing contact a pop up will be displayed asking you to verify the update.

You now have local contacts than can be exported.

Step 2. Forward your local contacts as vCards.

This step is far more difficult than it should be. Perhaps there is a different method but for most users the only option available is to forward a vCard or vCards to a contact and in this case mail yourself!

The option should of course have been "Export Contacts" and a selection of mail systems such as Gmail or others with the option of "Rich Data" available.

Here is my method used and as said above there may be easier ways but I have not found it yet.

1. Choose the most appropriate view.

  2. Select a single contact, to ensure you are in the correct context, and press CTL + A (Select All)

3. Forward the message to yourself.

If there was an easier way then I have not found it. Sorry.

4. Save all the attachments.

Once you open the mail that you sent to yourself you have the option to save all attachments.

Confirm the selection

5. Choose a directory on the file system.

The vCards will now be saved to this directory.

Step 3. Combine and upload the vCards.

The vCard files are downloaded individually as separate files. You can select individual files for upload or you can easily combine the files into a single file.

 1. Combine the vcf files into a single file.

a. Start File Explorer - Windows Key + E.
b. Navigate to the path of the downloaded vcf files.
c. Type cmd in the navigation bar.

* Top Tip - Enter cmd in the navigation pane for a quick cmd prompt.

This will now open a new cmd prompt with the correct path.

Now type in the following command:

Copy *.vcf combined.vcf

This command will combine all the individual files into a single file.

2. Upload the vCards to gmail.

1. To access your contacts click on the twisty next to Gmail and select Contacts

You can also select your contacts by entering this URL in a new tab.

2. Select More - Import - CSV or vCard

If you are using the new Gmail contacts interface then you will need to access the older version temporarily.

3. This will now bring up the older version of contacts

4. Select More - Import 

Navigate to the .vcf directory and select combined.vcf

5. Import the combined file. 

Unfortunately you can not select a group at this time. Doh!

Step 4. Maintain your gmail address book.

The process above will create a new folder called Imported (DATE). The process below takes into consideration updating your contacts regularly.

1. Select (click on) the Imported (DATE) navigation folder on the left.

2. Select all contacts

Click on the empty box, top left, to select all contacts
Deselect, Contacts and Imported (DATE) and create a new group or add to an existing group.

3. Gmail will confirm all changes

4. Merge Duplicate Contacts

5. GMail will confirm the process. 

And DONE! 

Now open the usual contacts tab and you will notice the metadata (Photos)


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