How to Import Contacts to Your iPhone From a CSV

by Benjamin Aries

The Apple iPhone can hold contacts from many sources, including lists that are created from other programs. Many applications such as Outlook and Yahoo can export contacts as a comma-separated value file. A CSV file cannot be directly loaded into an iPhone, however. A separate application must receive the CSV contact list and then synchronize with the iPhone. The standard address book app on a Mac or Windows computer has this capability. Google's popular Gmail email client can also perform this function.

Using Address Book

Convert the CSV file into a tab-delimited file. Access the free "CometDocs" online file converter (see Resources). Click "Upload File" and select the CSV file from the computer. Choose "CSV to Delimited." Enter your email address and press "Send."

Check your email and save the converted delimited file to the computer. Launch the computer's address book application. This is named "Contacts" on the Windows 7 Start menu and "Address Book" on the Mac desktop.

Click "File" and select "Import." Locate the saved delimited file and click "Open." Wait for the contacts to import into the address book application.

Connect the iPhone to the computer using a USB cable. Launch the Apple iTunes software and click the name of the iPhone under the "Devices" section. Select the "Info" tab near the top of the screen.

Check the box labeled "Sync Contacts With." Choose a source for the contacts from the drop-down list. Select either "Windows Contacts" or "Mac Contacts," depending on which computer you use. Click the "All Contacts" button and press "Sync."

Using Google Gmail

Sign in to your online Gmail account. Click the "Gmail" heading and select "Contacts" from the drop-down menu. Choose "More Actions" and click "Import."

Press the button labeled "Choose File." Select the CSV file from the computer and click "Import." Wait for the contacts to transfer to Gmail.

Connect the iPhone to the computer using a USB cable. Select the iPhone name from the "Devices" list. Click "Info" near the top of the screen.

Check the box marked "Sync Contacts With." Click "Google Contacts." Enter the username and password associated with the Google Gmail account and click "Apply." Wait for the contacts to sync with the iPhone.


  • Applications besides CometDocs can convert a CSV to a tab delimited file. Popular spreadsheet programs, including Excel and OpenOffice, have this capability. Consult the user manual of the specific software for details on this process.

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