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How to transfer or import contacts to Gmail: Everything you need to know

How to transfer or import contacts to Gmail: Everything you need to know

min read

Looking for a way to move organized contacts from your old Gmail account to a new one? Before you scroll through hundreds of online tutorials, here’s some good news: What you're looking for is right here in this guide.

If you’re hoping to manage your contacts better, we'll walk you through several different ways you can transfer or import contacts to Gmail. Whether you have them in a CSV file, a different account, or a different emailing platform altogether, that’s no problem. We’re leaving no stone unturned here.

Let's get started.

<a href="#how-to-prepare-your-google-contacts-for-import" class="anchor-link">How to prepare your Google contacts for import</a>

  • <a href="#csv-file" class="anchor-link">CSV file</a>
  • <a href="#vcard-file" class="anchor-link">vCard file</a>
  • <a href="#bonus-tip-categorizing-your-contacts" class="anchor-link">Bonus tip: Categorizing your contacts</a>

<a href="#adding-contacts-to-gmail-from-another-gmail-account" class="anchor-link">Adding contacts to Gmail from another Gmail account</a>

<a href="#importing-contacts-to-gmail-from-other-email-programs" class="anchor-link">Importing contacts to Gmail from other email programs</a>

  • <a href="#from-outlook-to-gmail" class="anchor-link">From Outlook to Gmail</a>
  • <a href="#from-yahoo-mail-to-gmail" class="anchor-link">From Yahoo! Mail to Gmail</a>

<a href="#transferring-contacts-to-gmail-from-mobile-devices" class="anchor-link">Transferring contacts to Gmail from mobile devices</a>

  • <a href="#for-android-users" class="anchor-link">For Android users</a>
  • <a href="#for-ios-users" class="anchor-link">For iOS users</a>

<a href="#uploading-contacts-to-gmail-from-csv-or-vcard-files" class="anchor-link">Uploading contacts to Gmail from CSV or vCard files</a>

  • <a href="#importing-csv-file-contacts-into-gmail" class="anchor-link">Importing CSV file contacts into Gmail</a>
  • <a href="#importing-vcard-vcf-to-gmail" class="anchor-link">Importing vCard (vCF) to Gmail</a>

<a href="#maximize-your-gmail-contacts-list-right-in-your-inbox" class="anchor-link">Maximize your Gmail contacts list right in your inbox</a>

<a href="#frequently-asked-questions" class="anchor-link">Frequently asked questions</a>

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How to prepare your Google contacts for import

Before going straight into the importing step, you first need to prepare your Google contacts to ensure a smooth process that doesn't involve any data loss.

This phase involves three main tasks: 

  1. You need to remove duplicate contacts.
  2. You need to update old information.
  3. You need to ensure your contacts are in the right format.

(Google only supports CSV and vCard files, so if your contacts are sitting in a normal document, you'll need to export them as one of these two options.)

Below is more information about getting your contacts into the right format for importing.

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CSV file

If you want to export your contacts into a CSV file, here's how:

  1. Upload the Excel file that contains your contacts on Google Drive.
  2. Open it as a Google Sheet.
  3. Go to the File menu and choose Download as CSV file.

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vCard file

If you want to export the contacts into vCard files instead, here's how:

  1. Open your old Gmail account.
  2. Go to Google Contacts.
  3. Choose Export from the menu on the left.
  4. Choose the contacts you want to export, and click on vCard on the selection menu.

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Bonus tip: Categorizing your contacts

Here's a bonus preparation step you can try for easy and quick contact access later: Categorize your contacts.

For example, you can create a group for personal contacts and business contacts. This makes it easier for you to filter through your email messages and set up a more organized inbox

Here's how to categorize your contacts:

  1. Open your Gmail account.
  2. Go to Google Contacts.
  3. Click on the + (plus) next to Labels to create a new label.
  4. Write the label you want.
  5. Click Save.
  6. Go back to Google Contacts.
  7. Mark the contacts you want to add under the new label.
  8. Click Manage Labels at the top of the screen.
  9. Choose the label you recently created.
  10. Click on Apply.

Pro tip: Be sure to create a backup of the file or spreadsheet that contains your contacts in case any issues occur during the transferring process.

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Adding contacts to Gmail from another Gmail account

After you're all set with the right file type, it's time to move on to the importing process.

Importing contacts from an old Gmail account to a new one is a straightforward process that can help you maximize your inbox productivity and efficiency. Below are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Open your old Gmail account.
  2. Open the Google Contacts page.
  3. Click on the Export icon on the right side of your screen. (Note: The icon has an arrow pointing up.)
  4. Select the contacts you want to import.
  5. Click on Export As > Google CSV.
  6. Click on Export.

You'll find a downloaded file with all your contacts on your computer. Now, to import it to your new account, do the following:

  1. Open your new Gmail account.
  2. Open the Google Contacts page.
  3. Choose Import under Fix & manage.
  4. Locate the downloaded contacts file and click on it.
  5. Click Export.
A screenshot of Google Contacts page with a pop up window to Select file after clicking the Import feature on the left sidebar

Now, Gmail will import all of the contacts from the file into your new account.

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Importing contacts to Gmail from other email programs

It's one thing to import contacts between two Gmail accounts, but it's an entirely different game to import from different email programs. If you want to import contacts from Outlook or Yahoo, here's what you need to do.

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From Outlook to Gmail

A screenshot of the Outlook interface with the Outllook icon  at the center

If you have the Outlook app on your laptop or personal computer, it'll only take you a few minutes to transfer contacts over to your Gmail. Here's what you should do:

  1. Open your Outlook desktop app.
  2. From the File menu, choose Open & Export.
  3. Click on Import/Export to export Outlook contacts.
  4. Choose Export to a file > Next.
  5. Choose Comma Separated Values > Next.
  6. Choose the Contacts file.
  7. Click on Browse and choose the folder where you want to save your contacts.
  8. Write a name for your CSV file, and then click Next.
  9. Click Finish.

Now, a file with your Outlook contacts will be downloaded to your computer. To import it to your Gmail account, do the following:

  1. Open your Gmail account.
  2. Go to Google Contacts.
  3. Choose Import under Contacts.
  4. Click on Select File.
  5. Locate your exported CSV file and open it.
  6. Click on Import.

When all of your imported contacts are in place, Google will alert you that it's done.

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From Yahoo! Mail to Gmail

A screenshot of the Yahoo interface with the Compose opened

Like with Outlook, it's also easy to transfer contacts from Yahoo! Mail to Gmail. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Open your Yahoo! Mail account.
  2. Go to Contacts through the icon on the top left corner of the screen.
  3. Click on the three dots on the right of the menu.
  4. Click Export to CSV File.
  5. Save the exported file on your computer.

Now, you can import your contacts list to Gmail.

  1. Open your Gmail account.
  2. Open the Google Contacts page.
  3. Choose Import under Contacts.
  4. Click on Select File.
  5. Choose your exported file.
  6. Click on Import.

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Transferring contacts to Gmail from mobile devices

What if you want to export contacts from a mobile device to your Gmail account? Whether you have an Android or iOS device, it's completely possible.

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For Android users

It doesn’t matter if you’re on an Android phone or tablet; you can follow these steps either way to transfer contacts from your device to your Gmail account:

  1. Open the Contacts app on your Android device.
  2. Click on the + (plus) or Add icon.
  3. Choose to add contacts to your Google account.
  4. Type in your contact’s details, like name, phone number, email address, etc.
  5. Click on Save to add the contact to your Google Gmail account.

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For iOS users

Android isn't the only operating software that allows you to transfer contacts to Gmail. You can also do the same from any iOS device you have on hand. All you have to do is follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Contacts icon on your iOS device.
  2. Click on the + (plus) icon at the top of your screen.
  3. Type in the contact's details, like name, phone number, email address, etc.
  4. Click on Done to save the contact.
  5. Open your device's settings.
  6. Go to Contacts > Accounts.
  7. Add your Gmail address.
  8. Choose the applications you want to sync with your Gmail account.
  9. Switch on the toggle next to Contacts.

Now, your phone will sync contacts with your Gmail account, and you'll be able to access your contact list from any device you want.

Pro tip: Only follow these methods for adding one or two contacts manually. For bulk contacts, it's best to use a laptop for an easier and quicker process.

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Uploading contacts to Gmail from CSV or vCard files

Finally, the easiest way to transfer multiple contacts to Gmail is through CSV and vCard files. If you have the files ready on your computer, importing them will be easier than you think.

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Importing CSV file contacts into Gmail

  1. Open your Gmail account.
  2. Go to your Google Contacts page.
  3. Choose Import under Fix & Manage on the left-side menu of the screen.
  4. Click Select File in the menu that'll pop up. (Note: If you don't have a ready CSV file on your computer, you can create one using the steps we listed above.)
  5. Choose the file with the Gmail contacts you want to import.
  6. Click on the Import button to transfer contacts from the file to your Gmail account.

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Importing vCard (vCF) to Gmail

  1. Open your Gmail account.
  2. Open Google Contacts from the Google Apps icon.
  3. Click on Import under Fix & Manage.
  4. Click on Select File.
  5. Locate the vCard file you want to import on your computer and open it.
  6. Click Import.

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Maximize your Gmail contacts list right in your inbox

Having an organized list of contacts in your Gmail account just scratches the surface of maximum inbox efficiency, and that's where Streak comes into play. 

Streak can streamline your email communications through the smart tracking of each of your clients' interactions with your team.

It’s all possible thanks to a feature called Contacts and Organization. It can seamlessly add contacts to your business pipeline for easy access and monitoring. Streak can also:

  • Track your sent emails
  • Check when your clients open them
  • Automatically follow up with them at the perfect time

Best of all, you can try Streak for free, and it only takes 30 seconds to get started.

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Frequently asked questions

Is there a limit to the number of contacts I can import to Gmail?

Yes, Gmail imposes a limit of 3,000 contacts per import. If you have more contacts than that, you'll have to separate them into groups of 3,000, and repeat the importing process until you get through them. There's also an overall limit of 25,000 saved contacts for each account, so you can't save more than that in any scenario.

Can I undo an import and revert to my old contacts list?

Sadly, Gmail doesn't provide an undo button for importing contacts. If you want to go back to your old contacts list, you'll have to manually delete the newly imported contacts. Another workaround could be to restore an old backup of your previous contacts, but this would require you to have that backup on hand.

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