What Is a CONTACT File?

Contact details, like a name and email address, are stored in a CONTACT file

What to Know

  • CONTACT files contain contact info, like the person's name, photo, email, number, address, etc.
  • They're created by the Windows Contacts contact management software built-in to some Windows versions.
  • Execute wab.exe from Run, or go to your user account's \Contacts\ folder, to export to CSV or VCF.

This article explains what a CONTACT file is and how to use one.

What Is a CONTACT File?

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.

CONTACT files in Windows 10

This is the folder where CONTACT files are stored by default:


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.

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

Since it's an XML text file, you can open 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 tries to open the file, but it's the wrong application or you'd rather have another installed program open it, see our guide on how to change file associations 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 it to CSV or VCF, which are more widely used file formats.

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

Export Windows Contacts screen in Windows 10

You won't see the Export option if your 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 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.

Still Can't Open It?

If your file doesn't open after following the directions above, you might not actually be dealing with a CONTACT file. This might happen if you've misread the file extension, which is pretty easy to do. The problem there is that even if a file shares some of the same file extension letters, it doesn't necessarily mean that the formats are related.

CONTOUR is one example of a similar file extension. Instead of having anything to do with contact details, these files are story scripts that open with Contour.

Another file extension, CONTROLS, is a settings file that also has nothing to do with contacts. If you have one of those files, open it with openBVE.

It's unlikely that you're misreading the file extension, though. What's probably happening is that the program you're wanting to use just can't open CONTACT files, in which case you need to convert it to a more popular format. However, if you do have a different file, research its file extension to see what program you need on your computer in order to open it.

  • How do I open a VCF contact file?

    You can use Microsoft's Windows People app to open a VCF contact file. Alternatively, vCardOrganizer and VCF Viewer will open VCF files. On a Mac, view VCF files with vCard Explorer or Address Book.

  • How do I open a .CONTACT file on a Mac?

    First, convert the CONTACT file to a CSV file: Open the Contacts folder, select Export, then choose CSV. On your Mac, open the CSV file in a text editor, remove line breaks, and make sure all addresses have the same fields. Open your Mac's Contacts app and go to File > Import, select your file, and then click Open.

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