Migrating from Windows Live Mail to Outlook 2010

I signed up to the Microsoft Office 2010 beta program last week. My main motivation was so I could use Outlook to sync my contacts with my HD2 WinMo phone. It would of been nice if that could sync with Windows Live Mail but hey, the powers that be decided that would be too easy. Those same powers also saw fit to make Outlook 2010 unable to directly import mail and account settings from WLM. Quite annoying. There is a way around this but it does require a wee bit of work. The basics of it are to export your messages from WLM in a format that Outlook can then import.

Mail Accounts
I couldn’t get the exported mail accounts to import into Outlook, it just refused to see the IAF files. So I basically just went old-skool and opened WLM and Outlook side by side, then just manually entered the account details. Bit of a pain since I have 7 accounts but it’s not too bad since I’m just copy and pasting from the WLM window to the Outlook one, well except for my passwords.

Make sure Outlook is closed and then in WLM go to File->Export->Messages and choose “Microsoft Exchange”. I just left it on the “All Folders” option and clicked OK. This will then start exporting all your messages. This can take quite a while. When it’s done open up Outlook and you should see all your messages in the Mail column.

Open WLM and click the Contacts button. Select all your contacts and then do File->Export->Business card (VCF). You then have to pick a directory to save all the files to. I created a temp one called Contacts in my downloads directory for this. When this is done you should have a VCF file for each of your contacts.

Back in Outlook open the Contacts page. Now this is my own special retarded method of importing the vcards. See, you can do it one at a time via the File->Open->Import option but that sucks. What I did is select all the vcards in explorer and then drag and dropped them into the Contacts pane. This then proceeded to open each one as a seperate window. So yer, I now have 116 contact windows open. Now I have to click “Save & Close” 116 times. Technically it takes two clicks for each contact since the first click gives each window focus and then the second click actually saves and closes the contact. That’s still less than a 1/4 of the clicks I would of had to do if I did it one at a time via the File menu.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you run into a duplicate entry it will stop opening vcard windows. So the first thing is to deal with the duplicate, then finish save and closing the current set of vcards. Then, go back to explorer, select the vcards after the duplicates and drag and drop them into the contacts window again. Luckily for me I only had a single duplicate pair.

Total time to import my 116 contacts was about two minutes.

I’ve been using Outlook 2010 for about a month now. Syncing with my phone works a treat. So far there’s only been one real problem with Outlook which is that it sometimes refuses to fully close. The main application will dissapear but there will be an “Outlook is closing” icon in the task bar that never goes. This then prevents you from opening a new instance of Outlook. When that happens I use Task Manager to force it shut. It’s a beta so I’m fine with that. I’m quite liking the Happy/Sad face reporting system that MS is using for the beta, it feels like they are listening to the issues we’re all having.

When I setup ActiveSync with my phone it synced not only my contacts but also my calendar and task list which I didn’t expect. I never used the calendar or task list in Outlook before, well maybe once or twice but not properly. Now I find it well useful. I probably wouldn’t of considered using either of them before the sync process auto-configured them for me. Very pleased.

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  • Pentris

    I am so upset at WLM 2011 with its thumbnail pictures and being unable to send or receive full size attachments that I decided to go back to Outlook 2003. Also WLM will not forward any embedded pictures received from Outlook, another reason to dump it. The information in this blog saved me going mad trying to get the contacts out of WLM, Thanks.

  • appreciative

    I greatly appreciate the information. Have a great year.

  • doktor

    Export Contacts Windows Live Mail

    1. Select the Contacts button in the left bottom section or press CTRL+SHIFT+C to bring up the Windows Live Contacts window.
    2. File-> Export-> Comma Separated Values (.CSV)
    3. Select a location to store the export in and name you export file.
    This can be on your Desktop folder for easy access. You can remove the file once everything has been imported into Outlook.
    4. Press the Next button.
    5. Select all the fields (make sure you scroll down to see all fields).
    6. Press Finish. You’ll get notified when the export is done.
    7. Close the remaining open dialogs and continue to the Import Contacts section.

    Import Contacts Outlook

    1. File-> Import and Export

  • Anonymous

    doktors comment is an extract of a much larger guide that is located below:


    Thanks Robert Sparnaaij for the heads-up.

  • Garry

    This worked well for me and I have no complaints.


    — Garry

  • Eduardo Mozart de Oliveira
    Eduardo Mozart de Oliveira

    I was having troubles in Export contacts from WLM and Windows Mail to Outlook 2010. This post helped a lot of, after i used VCF format, worked fine. The only boring thing is the 700 clicks that i have done. Used USB external mouse instead touchpad.

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