What Is a CONTACT File?

How to open, edit, and convert CONTACT files

Screenshot of several CONTACT files

Tim Fisher / Lifewire

A file with the CONTACT file extension is a Windows Contact file. They're used in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista.

CONTACT files are XML-based files that store information about someone, including their name, photo, email addresses, phone numbers, work and home addresses, family members, and other details.

This is the folder where CONTACT files are stored by default: C:\Users\[USERNAME]\Contacts\.

How to Open a CONTACT File

The easiest way to open a CONTACT file is to just double-click or double-tap it. The program that opens these files, Windows Contacts, is built-in to Windows, so you don't need to install any extra software to open CONTACT files.

Windows Live Mail, which is included with Windows Essentials (a now discontinued product from Microsoft), can open and use CONTACT files too.

Since .CONTACT files are XML text files, it means you can open in one in a text editor like the Notepad program in Windows, or a third-party editor like one from our Best Free Text Editors list. However, doing this will just let you see the details of the CONTACT file in text form, which definitely isn't as easy to read as using Windows Contacts.

In addition to using the path mentioned above, Windows Contacts can also be opened from the Run dialog box or a command prompt window using the wab.exe command.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the CONTACT file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open CONTACT files, see our guide to make that change in Windows.

How to Convert a CONTACT File

If you want to use a CONTACT file in a particular program or device, you most likely have to convert the CONTACT file to CSV or VCF, which are more widely used file formats.

To do that, open the \Contacts\ folder mentioned previously. A new menu will appear in this folder that's different than the menu in the other folders in Windows. Select Export to choose which format to convert the CONTACT file to.

You won't see the Export option if your CONTACT file is in a different folder because this particular location is what opens the special menu for CONTACT files. To fix this, just move the .CONTACT file into the \Contacts\ folder.

If you're converting a CONTACT file to CSV, you're given the option to exclude certain fields from being exported. For example, you can export just the name and email address if you want to, by unchecking the boxes next to the fields for the home address, company information, job title, notes, and more.