Import and export text data with Outlook

Applies to
Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003
Microsoft Outlook® 2002

This article describes how to use the Import and Export Wizard to import text data into Outlook and to export Outlook data to a text file.

Using a text file is helpful when the converters that are provided with Outlook do not directly match the format of the data that you want to import. Most programs can export and import text files, so you can often use a text file as a common file format to export and import data.

The Outlook Import and Export Wizard can import and export the following types of text data:

  • Comma Separated Values (MS-DOS)
  • Comma Separated Values (Windows)
  • Tab Separated Values (MS-DOS)
  • Tab Separated Values (Windows)

MS-DOS or Microsoft Windows     Whether you use the MS-DOS converter or the Windows converter depends on the text character set that is used in your data. ASCII is a character set that is used by many MS-DOS programs, and ANSI is a character set that is used by many Windows programs. The main difference between ASCII and ANSI is the upper 128 characters; the lower 128 characters are the same. The upper 128 characters are often referred to as extended characters. ASCII extended characters include line draw characters, and ANSI extended characters include international characters and publishing symbols.

Comma or Tab Delimiter     The character that is used to separate, or delimit, each field in your data determines whether you use the comma separated converter or the tab separated converter. If you open your data in Microsoft Word 97 and see commas between each field, your data is comma separated (CSV). If you see a space between the fields, your data either is tab separated or uses a fixed width field. The Outlook tab separated converter searches for a tab character between fields. In Word 97, you can turn on the Show/Hide option; tabs appear as arrows that point to the right, and space characters appear as small dots.

 Note   Do not save your file as a Microsoft Word document because Word uses a different file format.

Before you attempt to import data from a text file, you need to inspect the header record to make sure that the items stored in the text file match the Outlook internal names. The header record is the first record in the text file. It defines the way that the data is organized. If these fields do not match, the data is not imported.

To find out what the standard Outlook field names are, you can generate a sample of these fields in Outlook.

Generate a sample of Outlook fields

Before you edit your data source, you can generate a sample of the fields that are used in Outlook. To do this:

  1. If it is present, remove the current binary mapping file, "Comma Separated Values (Windows).adr", which is located in the Windows\Application folder. This procedure rebuilds this file.
  2. On the Go menu, click Folder List if it is not already displayed.
  3. In the Folder List, right-click the Outlook folder that you want to use, and then click New Folder.
  4. Give this temporary folder a descriptive name, and then click OK. You can delete this folder after the sample fields file is created.
  5. On the File menu, click Import and Export.
  6. Under Choose an action to perform, select Export to a file, and then click Next.
  7. Under Create a file of type, select Comma Separated Values (Windows), and then click Next.
  8. Under Select folder to export from, select the folder that you created in step 4, and then click Next.
  9. In the Save exported file as box, type a name for the file, and then click Browse to select a folder to save the file in.
  10. Click OK to save the exported file, click Next, and then click Finish.

The resulting comma separated values file contains the fields that Outlook uses for the folder that you selected. Repeat this step as necessary for each type of data that you want to import. While you familiarize yourself with the Outlook field labels, note that precise spelling is necessary. For example, when defining electronic mail addresses, Outlook uses the spelling "e-mail" (without quotation marks).

Import text data

Do the following to import data from a text file:

  1. On the File menu, click Import and Export.
  2. Under Choose an action to perform, select Import from another program or file, and then click Next.
  3. Under Select file type to import from, select the file type that matches your data, and then click Next.
  4. In File to import, type the path and file name of the file that you want to import, or click Browse to navigate to the file, and then click Next.
  5. Under Select destination folder, select the folder that you want to import to, and then click Next.
  6. Check that the destination folder is correct, and then click Finish.

Export text data

Do the following to export text data:

  1. On the File menu, click Import and Export.
  2. Under Choose an action to perform, select Export to a file, and then click Next.
  3. Under Create a file of type, select a format for the file that you want to export, and then click Next.
  4. Under Select folder to export from, select the folder you that want to export from, and then click Next.
  5. Under Save exported file as, type the path and file name for the file that you want export, and then click Next.
  6. Confirm the action, and then click Finish.
 
 
Applies to:
Outlook 2003