How to Restore or Import Your Gmail Contacts from a CSV File

Old address book held together with rubber band
Henry Horenstein / Getty Images

Wouldn't it be nice if things went wrong only when you're prepared? You didn't create the backup copy of your Gmail contacts on your desktop because you intended to use it, of course — but now that synchronizing Gmail and Outlook's address book has resulted in something you don't care to untangle, you'll use it most happily.

Just as happily, you can use Gmail's contact importing to copy addresses from one Gmail account to another.

Restore or Import Your Gmail Contacts from a CSV File

To import Gmail contacts from another account or restore your contacts from a backup CSV copy after synchronization went awry, for example:

  • Go to Contacts in Gmail.
  • Click Import.
  • Use the file selector under Please select a CSV or vCard file to upload: to pick the "google.csv" file from which you want to restore or import.
    • Check Also add these imported contacts to: New group…to have Gmail create a new group for the imported contacts so you will be able to identify them; you will be asked for a group name during importing.
  • Click Import.
  • Now click OK.

Gmail will automatically detect duplicates and merge these entries — not looking for matching names but matching email addresses, though. If a contact has been updated, Gmail will add the new information but not delete the old; you will get an address book entry with two addresses, for example, both the old and the new.

You can also restore a previous state of your Gmail contacts from automatic Google backups.

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