How to Export Your Gmail Contacts

CSV button

PeterPal/Getty Images 

You can export all your address book data from Gmail to other email programs and services via CSV or vCard.

They Will Follow You

Gmail makes it easy to maintain an address book. Everybody with whom you communicate is automatically added to your ​Contacts. Of course, additional people and data can be entered as well.

What, though, if you want to move or copy your precious collection of correspondents—to another Gmail account, for example, or to a desktop email program such as Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird or Yahoo! Mail?

Fortunately, exporting contacts from Gmail is just as easy as accumulating them.

Export Your Gmail Contacts

To export your full Gmail address book:

  1. Open Gmail Contacts. Click Gmail, for example, in Gmail and select Contacts from the menu that appears. You can also press gc with Gmail keyboard shortcuts enabled.

  2. Click the More button in the Contacts toolbar.

  3. Select Export… from the menu that has shown.

  4. To export your entire address book, make sure All Contacts is selected under Which contacts do you want to export? You can also select a Google Contacts group for export.

    To export only the contacts you have manually added to your Gmail address book (excluding entries automatically created by Gmail—see below—and people in Contacts merely because you have circled them in Google+), make sure The Group My Contacts is selected under Which contacts do you want to export?

  5. For a maximum of compatibility, select Outlook CSV format (or Outlook CSV) under Which export format? Both Outlook CSV and Google CSV export all data. The Gmail format uses Unicode to preserve international characters under all circumstances, but some email programs—including Outlook—do not support that. Outlook CSV converts names to your default character encoding. As an alternative, you can use vCard; an internet standard also supported by many email programs and contact managers, most notably OS X Mail and Contacts

  6. Click Export.

  7. Download the "gmail-to-outlook.csv" (Outlook CSV), "gmail.csv" (Google CSV) or "contacts.vcf" file to your Desktop.

Importing your contacts into another or restoring them to the original Gmail account is easy, of course.

Contacts Automatically Added by Gmail

Are you wondering why the list and file of contacts are so huge? Gmail has been adding new entries to your address book as you used it. Gmail automatically creates a new contact every time you reply to an email or forward it to a new address.

These new automatic entries are found under Other Contacts in Gmail Contacts.

How to Disable Automatic Gmail Contacts

To prevent Gmail from adding new addresses to your Contacts automatically:

  1. Click the Settings gear icon in Gmail.

  2. Select Settings from the menu that appears.

  3. Go to the General tab.

  4. Make sure I'll add contacts myself is selected under Create contacts for auto-complete.

  5. Click Save Changes.