HOWTO: Importing Thunderbird contacts into GMail

I’ve moved my entire mailbox over to Gmail now, previously I was a firm believer in IMAP and didnt move to Gmail fully sooner because of the lack of folders – unlike in real life where my life is usually a mess, I keep my mail quite organised. Whats more, the junk mail filters are second to none.

Whilst the mail trickled down via POP3 (thank god for IMAP!) I had to manually get the contacts to be updated in gmail. Here’s how to get your contacts into GMail from thunderbird – and possibly other clients.

  • Open your addressbook in Thunderbird. Tools > Addressbook or {CTRL+2}
  • Goto Tools > Export menu item
  • We need a CSV file, change the default file type from LDF to ‘Comma Seperated’ and save it with an appropriate filename.
  • Once exported, open up the CSV file in OpenOffice or Microsoft Excel.
  • Heres where we get trippy. By default, when you export you will get these headers:
    • First Name
    • Last Name
    • Display Name
    • Nickname
    • Primary Email
  • We need to make sure that we have the four main columns that GMail looks for:
    • First Name
    • Last Name
    • Display Name
    • Email Address
  • Remove all the other columns (so Nickname, Secondary Email etc etc)
  • Save the file as something else so we can go back to it later if required.
  • Goto GMail, click Contacts and click ‘Import’ from the right panel header.
  • Point to the CSV file you just saved and let it import, you will find that the Display names are automajically resolved, duplicates trimmed and others merged.


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