For some reason, the Microsoft Outlook developers never really embraced the vCard format, and did not provide adequate ways to import/export to this format.  The “File > Import and Export…” menu only has ways to import vCards, and no options to export them.  Because of this, various tools and add-ins have appeared that allow you to backup/export your Outlook contacts to vCard, and some of them even cost money!  Why should you have to pay to back up your contacts?

Well, you don’t.  It turns out there is an easy (but non-obvious) way to do this in Outlook without any additional tools or add-ins.  Here it is in 3 easy steps:

STEP 1: Select all contacts in your Outlook contact folder (CTRL-A).

STEP 2: Select “Forward as vCard” from the Actions menu.

Forward as vCard




STEP 3: When the new message appears with all of your vCards attached, select File > Save Attachments and save your vCards to a folder on your hard drive.

The draft message can be deleted/discarded.   You now have a standard set of vCards that you can use however you like.  You can even drag them onto your iPod Contacts folder and view them on the go from the iPod Extras>Contacts menu.

WARNING: When Outlook 2003 exports to vCards, it only exports the first email address!  The other email addresses will be lost!  This limitation only applies to OL2003 and is not an issue for OL2007 or OL2010. You can see some discussion of the OL2003 issue here.