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How To Import an AOL Address Book into Outlook Express.

Please don't be put off by the length of this article, I have gone in to quite a lot of detail so that even the most inexperienced user can follow, but the procedure is really quite simple.

AOL make it as difficult as they can for their users to leave them by making it very difficult to move email and address book data to another program other than their own proprietary software.

I searched Google for hours looking for a free way to import a customers AOL address book in to Outlook Express and found nothing. So I had a look myself and found it is actually quite easy.

This method works best if your AOL address book only contains email addresses. If it also contains postal addresses and telephone numbers for your contacts then things get complicated. You can still do it, but you will have to do some manual editing.

There is no direct Export option from the AOL address book but with a little effort we can cheat, just follow this simple procedure....

Copy All Your AOL Addresses To The Clipboard

  1. Open your AOL software, you can log in if your AOL account is still valid but if it isn't, just chose your screen name and close the sign in window.
  2. From the Email menu select the Address Book option.
  3. Under Groups select All Contacts, your contacts will now be displayed.
  4. Highlight them all, click once on the first contact to highlight that, scroll down to the bottom of the list, hold down the Shift key and click the last contact, they should all now be highlighted.
  5. Right click over any of the highlighted addresses and select Send To from the context menu.
    Right click over any of the highlighted addresses and select Send To from the context menu.
  6. A Write Email window will appear with all your contacts in the Send To box.
  7. Now highlight all the contacts in the Send To box.
    Now highlight all the contacts in the Send To box
  8. Use Ctrl-C to copy all your contacts to the Windows clipboard, hold down the Ctrl button and press the C key.

Paste Your AOL Contacts In To A Blank Word Processor Document

  1. Open a blank MS Word, MS Works Word Processor or StarOffice Writer document.
  2. Past your contacts in to the blank document, hold down the Ctrl button and press the V key or click Paste from the Edit menu.
    Past your contacts in to the blank document

Format Your AOL Contacts So They Are Ready to Import

You will notice that all your contacts are now listed in the word processor document but there are lots of contacts on the same line Separated by a comma and a space.

In order to import them in to your email program you need to have each email address on a separate line. There are a couple of ways to do this.

Manual Edit

If your AOL address book contained just a few email addresses you can manually edit it to delete all the commas and use the enter key to put each address on a separate line.

If however your AOL address book contains a lot of contacts it would be much quicker to use your word processor's Find & Replace facility to replace all the comma and spaces with carriage returns.

(This works in MS Word, MS Works Word Processor or StarOffice Writer documents but will not work in Notepad or Wordpad).

Use The Microsoft Word or Works Word Processor Find & Replace Facility

  1. In Either Microsoft Word or Works Word Processor go to the Edit menu and click Replace.
  2. Type a comma followed by a space in the Find what: box.
  3. Type ^p in the Replace with: box.
    Type ^p in the Replace with: box
  4. Click the Replace All button, each address should now be on a separate line.
    each address should now be on a seperate line

Use The Star Office Writer Search & Replace Facility

If you do not have MS Word or Works you can use the free Star Office word processor, Writer. Download Star Office as part of the Google pack.

  1. In StarOffice Writer go to the Edit menu and click Find & Replace.
  2. Type a comma followed by a space in the Search for box.
  3. Type \n in the Replace with: box.
  4. Click the More Options button and click the Regular expressions check box.
  5. Click the Replace All button, each address should now be on a separate line.

Tidy Up

Scroll through the word processor document and complete or delete any incorrect entries, remember to keep one address on each line.

Save The Document As A Text File

  1. From your word processors File menu select Save As.
  2. In the Save In: box select a location to save your file, the desktop will do.
  3. In the File name: box type a file name of your choice, eg addressbook.
  4. In the Save as type: box select Text (.txt).
  5. Click the Save button.
    In the Save as type: box select Text (.txt)

Convert The Text File To A Comma Separated Values File

A comma Separated values file is simply a text file with a .csv file extension. To convert we simply change the file extension from .txt to .csv. That is we change addressbook.txt to be addressbook.csv.

Show File Extensions

But first we need to be able to see the file extension. By default, file extensions are hidden in Windows, to view them:

  1. Star My Computer and from the Tools menu select Folder Options...
    select Folder Options
  2. Click the View tab and untick Hide extensions for known file types.
    untick Hide extensions for known file types.

Change the File Extension from txt to csv

  1. Find your addressbook.txt file on the desktop, right click it and select Rename.
    right click it and select Rename
  2. Backspace over the txt extension to delete it, type csv and hit the return key.
  3. When asked if you are sure you want to change the file extension click the Yes button.

Import Your Contacts into Outlook Express

  1. Open Outlook Express and from the File menu choose Import and Other Address Book...
    from the File menu choose Import and Other Address Book
  2. Select Text File (Comma Separated Values) and click the Import button.
  3. Browse to your addressbook.csv file, click it once to highlight it and click the Open button.
    Browse to your addressbook.csv file
  4. Click Next.
  5. Click the Change Mapping button.
  6. In the Change Mapping dialogue box select Email Address from the drop down list, click to tick Import this field and click the OK button. 
    select Email Address from the drop down list, click to tick Import this field and click the O
  7. Click the Finish button.

That's all there is to it, you should now have all your AOL contacts imported into Outlook Express.

28.Oct.2008

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Comment by: Jim, 10th July 2009

This was a brilliant article and it worked first time for me. Thank you very much for your help.

Comment by: Fiona, 2nd July 2009

Just wanted to add my note of thanks for these very clear instructions to get around AOL's incredibly rude hostage taking over contacts.

Comment by: Christi, 18th June 2009

Can't believe you put the instructions on how to import AOL contact list into Outlook. All the other websites said it could not be done. Your instructions were easy to follow and worked the first time. Thank you so much!!

Comment by: Dave in Ohio, 4th March 2009

Just followed your instructions for transferring aol address books to outlook. Worked great! Thanks so much!

Comment by: Anon, 15th February 2009

Wow. After all these years of struggling with the internet - these instructions were clear as crystal. Maybe you should take over aol and the rest and show them how to instruct people. I am reasonably computer literate, but have never had such easy instructions - even setting up plug-and-play stuff. Thanks a million.