How to export Outlook Distribution List to .csv file format

[Updated on 2008-12] This post can be treated as one of the “how-to” serials on Outlook tips.

I know we can export Contacts from Outlook directly into .csv (Comma Delimited) files, but not the same case in Distribution list. That is understandable since Distribution lists are not creating any new Contacts, just grouping these existing contacts.

But I need to export these Contacts into different .csv files based on the Distribution Lists I already created before. So I had to do extra steps to make the export happen.

Step 1: Save Distribution List as Text file

Open your Outlook, click Distribution List you try to export.

And click File, Save As…

On the Save As window, select Text Only (*.txt) in the Save As Type drop down on the bottom.

Name your file, for example test01.txt, and then save it on your local machine.

Step 2: Open the saved Text file in Microsoft Excel

Launch your Microsoft Excel application, and Open the saved file above. When you do opening, just make sure the Files of Type should be All Files, or Text Files.

When you select the test01.txt from previous step, you will be automatically redirected to Text Import Wizard like the below.


You can keep the default value, but on this Step 1 of 3 screen, please make sure you select the right Start import at row:. Since the default value of 1 is apparently not what you want with something like “Distribution List Name: ….” occupy at least 4 rows. So you can find the first row with email address and put the row number (on the left) in the Start import at row: number field.

When you continue with “Next” clicking, you just review the screen and make sure everything is what you want, and click Finish in the last step.

And your file will be opened in Excel successfully.

Step 3: Save Excel file as CSV file

In Excel, click File, Save As and on the Save As window, make sure you change the Save as Type as CSV like the screen below.


Name your file, for example test01.csv and you are done with the exporting.

Next you need to do is to repeat on other distribution list.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: all steps and screen shots above are based on the version of Microsoft Outlook 2003 and Microsoft Excel 2003.

42 thoughts on “How to export Outlook Distribution List to .csv file format

  1. outlooker

    Does not work!
    All I get in the final Excel file (CSV) is the name of the Distribution list rather than each contact/email separately


  2. Anjin_K

    Dude that is a ugly solution.

    Here is a better one that will require a little bit of work but neater. I’m using Outlook 2003

    Click Contacts.
    On the Menu Bar, Go to File > New, click on Folder.
    In the Create New Folder window,
    type in a name (I use Export – but can be anything)
    Select “Contact Items” in “Folder Contains” drop down list.
    Under “Select Where to Place Folder” I just choose Personal Folders.

    Unfortunately you can’t export the distribution list directly. But what you can do is copy all the contacts from your main “Contacts” folder into the “Export” folder.

    So in the top left of the outlook window you should see under My Contacts – Contacts, Search Results and the newly created Export.

    Click on contacts, under current view I would choose Phone List or by Category (I created categories for my distribution lists now, it makes the next part easier.)
    Holding CTRL down click on each contact you want to export.
    When you are done, Choose Copy from the Edit menu bar.
    Click on the Export contact folder and Paste.

    Then export as normal –
    File > Import and Export
    Select > Export to a File, Next
    Select > Comma Separated Values (windows), Next
    Select folder to export from > Export, Next
    name the file, map the fields and you’re done.


    WebGuru replied on May 7th, 2009:

    thanks so much for sharing, yes, your method above works well too.


    Monique replied on December 15th, 2009:

    How can this be done in 2007?


    Bill replied on January 10th, 2011:

    @Anjin_K, Sure, you can export the distribution list directly.. All you have to do is go to contacts in Outlook, select the distribution list you want to export, go to File, Save As, and select txt and save it.


    Leah replied on June 24th, 2011:

    @Bill, Wow that is super easy the txt only way. Thanks.


    Martina replied on May 4th, 2012:

    @Anjin_K, hi, this is all great but the saved text file does not give me an option to open it in excel…


  3. StRwBeRiPy

    I followed your instructions and worked perfectly. Just one question how do I keep the last name and first name in two separate columns. Right now I have 2 columns: 1 with firstname & lastname.. and 1 with email.


  4. Darren

    Better solution – To export distribution lists, copy them to a sub folder under Contacts and then export as a regular PST file. Then, when you go to Import that PST file it places the sub folder in the same location. Works great.


    WebGuru replied on November 29th, 2009:

    @Darren, your suggestion is great. But it only works for the Outlook – Outlook import. How about you need the distribution list to be imported to a database table?


  5. Karla

    What I did is I saved the distribution list as a message (*.msg) then I mailed to the person that needed it. when she opens the email she just drag it to her contacts and it was all done.
    I hope this help


    jjj replied on November 16th, 2010:


    Now that’s a solution… muss, no fuss…simple and effective. Thanks for sharing!!

    “Even for expert users things should be simple”
    – Frank Lloyd Wright


    Monette Mallari replied on January 14th, 2011:

    This is a very helpful suggestion and it truly works. Thank you so much.


    stacey replied on April 3rd, 2011:

    @Karla, I have over 50 Distribution List and am trying to convert to Contacts. I get the part where you convert to message and I am actually emailing it to myself. I get the message with the attachment of the Distribution List. I am having trouble then adding it to Contacts. It just seems to add it as a Distribution List again not into contacts. Any Help would be appreciated.


  6. Amy

    I’m using Outlook 2003. I am unable to find any way to list my various Distribution Lists of which I have 7. They are outdated, & I want to delete the DLs. In the Outlook folder list, all I have is ‘Contacts’ without any + & no way to see the DL names. If I click to create a new email, I can then click in To: – CC: – BC: & then click on the Contact box (upper right corner), see a DL name & then select it & then click in one of the choices in which to paste the list. I then copy the list & past it into Word (as a table) or Excel. However, I see NO way to DELETE a DL that I want to Delete.

    Any suggestions? I do NOT want to Delete my list of Contacts – just the DLs (all of them).


    Milton replied on March 3rd, 2011:

    @Amy, The DL’s are listed in the contacts folder. Click on the contacts button/folder (lefthand corner below?) and click on the starting letter of your DL on your right handside. Look for the DL which is given with the double face-sign after the name. Click on it and delete. Good Luck!


  7. rosetwig

    I have many distribution lists with about 50 contacts in each. Since DL can not be used for mail merge, how can i take the contacts that are already in a distribution list and catagorize them by color to use in a mail merge to get around this problem without “doing them over?”


  8. Nate

    I have a group that I created in my distribution list along with all my contacts. I have about 35 in this group and I’m trying to send it (export it?) to another person. Any ideas on how to do this?


  9. Tan

    Well, I have a weird problem here.

    What I am trying to do, is to get the First Name and the Email IDs of all the people in a Distribution List. I am going to use Mail Merge to send emails to each of them in the distribution list, seperately. I would need (at least) their first names and email IDs to do so…

    Can anyone throw some light on this? How would I get a list of all the email IDs and their respective first names (preferably in an excel workbook), so that I can use Mail Merge to send them emails later?

    Thanks in advance!

    Note: I do not want to add each of them to my outlook address book, as I am going to send emails to many and the distribution list would change each time I do so…


    Regards, Tan


  10. Pingback: Export Distribution List Outlook 2010 Excel | Agrialimentaire

  11. Pingback: Export Contacts From Distribution List Outlook | Contact Lenses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please Answer: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.