How to move Contacts from Outlook to Hotmail

Today's tip is one that I thought everyone already knew how to do, but today I had questions from two people struggling with moving contacts to Hotmail, so it looks like I was wrong.

If the contacts are in Outlook there is no need to export to a CSV file and import the contacts using Hotmail online. Install the Outlook Hotmail Connector and drag the contacts from your to the Hotmail Contacts folder.

You can select the contacts in groups of around 25 - 50 at a time (it's easier if you use a list view) or select all and move all at once. (You can do the same for your calendar: use a list view, select all and drag to the Hotmail Calendar folder.)

Things you should know about Hotmail and Outlook

There are several things to remember when moving contacts to Hotmail:

Hotmail supports just 40 characters in the Company name field. Either shorten long names before moving the contacts or let Hotmail truncate them. Use the macro at Check Contacts before moving them to Hotmail Contacts folder to identify contacts before moving them to Hotmail.

The Notes field is limited to 1024 characters. While Hotmail won't truncate your notes, only 1024 characters will be available online or on other computers. The macro that checks company name field length will check for longer message bodies too.

Hotmail uses the Full name & Email address format used by the email address Display as field as part of the unique identifier, so you can't change that field. Hotmail updates this field automatically, so you won't need to fix any contacts that use a different display name format.

Categories in Hotmail are Contact Groups (Distribution lists) in Outlook.

Hotmail supports only only one contacts folder.

If you receive sync errors, check the Sync errors folder in your Hotmail data file. The sync error messages can help you understand what the problem is.

The connector doesn't sync Tasks. If you create tasks (or notes, or journal items) in your Hotmail data file, they are stored only in the Hotmail data file. If you make a new profile or delete the data file, you'll need to move the contents of those folders to a local pst file first, or lose them.

Hotmail data files are tied to the account that created it; you can't use it on another computer or with a new profile. You also can't move it.

Published April 20 2012

  • Hollie

    How do I transfer Outlook contacts to another exchange (vmware Zimbra)?

  • Diane Poremsky

    are you going to be using Outlook with zimbra? If so, export to a pst file and import into the zimbra profile. Otherwise, you'll need to know what format zimbra can import - most apps support CSV - and export in that format.

  • Anna

    I do not like the new Outlook. You have lost several of my contacts.
    In the smilies you need a cross.
    I cannot see all my all my contacts to choose from to send who I want to, and groups in e-mail.
    How is this better?
    This is not saying me time, and now I cannot send to groups as needed.

  • Diane Poremsky

    This is a Hotmail account and the contacts aren't syncing down to outlook? That is a "known issue" and should be fixed by the end of Dec. I don't know when it's expected - updates tend to come out in the last week but the holidays might effect it.

  • j.mcdougall

    I can open outlook, but I can not open my messages, what do I do?

  • D Poremsky

    What exactly happens when you try? What version of Outlook?