Quick guide: Convert VCF to CSV

Introduction

Converting vCard files (VCF or virtual contact file ) to CSV (comma separated values) format is a common task that can come up for a number of reasons. This guide is the result of our deep dive into VCF to CSV conversion updated for 2024. We will walk you through the conversion process with plenty of useful nuggets along the way, including the use of a helpful CSV converter tool. If you wish to skip straight to your desired method, please click below:

Method 1: Convert VCF to CSV with Google Contacts

Method 2: Convert VCF to CSV in Windows

Method 3: Convert VCF to CSV with an online converter

First some popular use cases for converting from VCF to CSV.

Use Case

Description

Transferring Contacts to Spread sheet Applications

CSV files are compatible with spread sheet applications like Excel and Google Sheets, allowing you to easily view, edit, and manage your contacts in a tabular format.

Syncing Contacts Across Devices

If you are moving contacts from an android or ios device to a Mac OS or Windows device, CSV files ensure compatibility across various operating systems and devices.

Integrating with CRM Systems

Many CRM systems, like Salesforce and HubSpot, support CSV format for bulk importing contacts, enabling efficient management of customer data.

Backing Up Contacts

Exporting contacts to CSV provides a straightforward way to create backups.

Creating Mailing Lists

CSV files are ideal for creating mailing lists that can be imported into various marketing tools and email distribution systems.

Batch Operations and Scripting

Performing batch operations or scripting on contact data using programming languages like Python, PowerShell, or command-line tools that can easily process CSV files.

Merging or Deduplicating Contacts

Merging or deduplicating contacts from multiple vCard sources into a single CSV file for cleaning and consolidation.

Legacy systems

Converting vCard files exported from legacy systems or proprietary formats into a more widely compatible CSV format.

Tip: Once you have converted your files, if you need help keeping your contacts in order check out our How to Organize Your Contacts guide.

Understanding vCard and CSV Formats

Before diving into ways to convert vcf to csv, it’s essential to understand the vCard and CSV file formats.

Format

Purpose

Data Types

Compatibility

Versions

VCF (vCard)

Primarily used for storing and exchanging contact information.

Can store names, tel numbers, email addresses, photos, and even audio clips.

Widely supported across various platforms and applications, such as email clients, mobile devices, including services like iCloud

Includes versions 2.1, 3.0, and 4.0, each with slight differences in features and capabilities.

CSV (Comma Separated Values)

A simple file format used for tabular data representation.

Stores data in a plain text format, with each line representing a row and each value separated by a delimeter (commonly a comma).

Ideal for use with spread sheet applications like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. Also compatible with database management systems such as MySQL and PostgreSQL.

Commonly used for data import/export operations, making it easy to view, edit, and manage large sets of data.

Key Points

  1. vCard: Best for rich contact details and compatibility with various devices and applications including address books.
  2. CSV: Best for organizing and managing data in spreadsheets, performing batch operations, and integrating with CRM systems due to its plain text format.

Single or Multiple VCF’s

When converting vCard files to CSV, you may encounter either a single VCF file with multiple contacts or multiple VCF files, each containing a single contact. The conversion method you choose will depend on your specific situation:

  1. Single VCF File with Multiple Contacts: Most conversion methods, such as Google Contacts and the online converter listed in this article will work well. The Windows method does not perform as well in this instance as you have to OK each of the Contacts stored in the VCF one by one.
  2. Multiple Individual VCF Files: The Windows Contacts method supports converting multiple VCF files at once. If you have several individual VCF files, this is the best method.

Tip: Merging VCF files into one can simplify updating your address book across multiple devices. If you would like to merge multiple VCF files into one before conversion, check out our guide on merging VCF files.

Step-by-Step Guide to convert VCF to CSV

Method 1: Convert VCF to CSV with Google Contacts

To convert your VCF files to CSV format using Google Contacts, follow these steps:

1) Open Google Contacts in your browser and click the Import button from the left menu or from the centre.

Importing a CSV into Google Contacts.

2) We recommend you create a label for this import to ensure only these contacts are exported to CSV. Click ‘No Label’ at the top, then ‘+ Create Label,’ and name it something related to the import. Click the blue ‘Select file’ button and choose your vcf file from its stored location. Then hit ‘Import’.

Add a label to your Google contacts import.

3) Your vCard contacts are now imported under the label created earlier. Hit the export icon button in the top right to export to CSV.

Exporting the contacts to CSV in Google contacts

4) If not already selected, select the label from your import and choose whether you wish to export a Google CSV or an Outlook CSV and then hit the export button (Click here for the differences between Google CSV and Outlook CSV). Your export will be downloaded to your Downloads directory.

Export contacts dialogue box in Google Contacts.

Method 2: Convert VCF to CSV in Windows

This method involves importing your VCF (or multiple VCF’s) into Windows Contacts which converts them to Windows Contact files. From their we can go ahead and convert to CSV.

1) Open the Run box in Windows by pressing the Windows key and typing Run. Type ‘Contacts’ and hit OK to open up Windows Contacts.

Open Contacts via the Windows Run box

2) You now are viewing Windows Contacts and can begin the import by clicking ‘Import’ from the top Windows menu.

Import menu from within Windows Contacts.

3) Select vCard and then hit the Import button.

Selecting vCard option from Window's Import menu.

4) If you have a folder that contains multiple VCF files (one for each contact) then navigate to that directory and shift click the top contact down to the bottom to select all of them and hit ‘Open’. You are now ready to skip to step 7).

Open multiple VCF files by shift clicking from within a folder.

5) If you have a single VCF file that contains multiple contacts the method is not as clean in Windows contacts but still achievable. From step 3 (Import), navigate to your individual VCF file and hit ‘Open’. You can check the contact (note if you have company information it will be displayed under ‘Work’) and hit OK. Unfortunately you will now need to ‘OK’ each contact, one at a time, by clicking OK on each one that is presented.

Windows displaying a contact file ready for import.

6) You repeat this process until all of the contacts within the VCF have been imported.

The next contact from within the VCF file is displayed.

7) All your contacts are now stored in Windows Contacts. We are ready to export to CSV. From within the Windows Contacts window hit ‘Export’ from the top menu.

Export button from within Windows Contacts.

8) Browse to your desired export location, name the file and hit ‘Next’.

Save As dialogue box for the CSV file.

9) You are now able to select which fields you want exporting. You are given the full range, but you may have only used a few categories in your vCard/s e.g. First, Last names, tel number, and company. Make sure to untick the fields you do not need and ensure the ones you need are checked. Click Finish and your CSV is now exported. You can always delete unwanted fields in your outputted CSV.

Selecting the fields you wish to export to CSV

Method 3: Convert VCF to CSV with an online vcf to csv converter

We tested many online tools and found the most useful and reliable to be a University of Oregon converter tool made public. It lets you choose the delimiter and other output options. You can filter vCards without email or phone numbers and even replace international dialing codes.

1) Visit https://pages.uoregon.edu/caspages/vcfconvert/

2) Click the ‘Choose file’ button and navigate to your vcf.

Choosing your vCard file with an online converter.

3) Change the output Format drop down from LDIF to CSV which will unlock the other options. Next set the Delimiter from Tab to Comma. For an explanation of delimiters and which one to pick click here.

Selecting output options for your CSV file.

4) The rest of the options can be left at their current settings. Add a filter if you wish to strip out any data from your vCard such as only leaving vCards that have an email. Hit Convert to output a CSV file to your downloads area.

Hitting Convert button to output your CSV file from the online converter.

Explanation of Delimiters

Comma (,):

Commonly Used: The ‘,’ is the most commonly used delimiter for CSV files, especially in English-speaking countries.

Compatibility: Most spreadsheet applications, like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, expect ‘,’ to separate values by default.

Example: Name,Phone,Email

Tab (\t):

Less Common: A tab character separates the values, which can be less visually clear when viewing the raw CSV in a text editor.

Specific Use Cases: Tabs are sometimes used to avoid issues with ‘,’ in the data, but this requires applications to be set to recognize tabs as delimiters.

Example: Name\tPhone\tEmail

Semicolon (;):

Regional Usage: Some countries, especially in Europe, use semicolons as delimiters to avoid confusion with decimal ‘,’s.

Example: Name;Phone;Email

Conclusion

Converting vCard to CSV can be a straightforward process when you have the right tools and methods. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure a smooth and efficient transition of your contact information across various platforms. Whether you’re organizing contacts for personal use or managing data for a business, the ability to convert between these formats enhances flexibility and control.

Tip: Want to convert the other way from CSV to vCard? Check out our in depth CSV to vCard conversion guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I merge multiple vCard files before conversion?

See our guide on merging multiple VCF files.

What is the difference between a Google CSV and an Outlook CSV?

A Google CSV is for importing into a Google account whilst an Outlook CSV format is for importing to Outlook or another email application

  1. Google CSV uses Unicode to preserve international characters
  2. Outlook doesn’t support these characters.
  3. Outlook CSV transports names to your default character encoding

How do I import my CSV into Google Docs for testing?

  1. Open a blank Google Spreadsheet by logging into Google Sheets.
  2. Go to the File menu.
  3. Select Import.
  4. Choose Upload.
  5. Browse and select your CSV file.
  6. Click Import Data.

Your CSV data will now be displayed in the spreadsheet, ready for review.

Which delimiter should I choose when converting vCard to CSV: comma, tab, or semicolon?

Choose a comma delimiter for compatibility with most spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. Use a tab or semicolon if your data contains commas, or for specific regional settings where semicolons are standard.

Why does Excel say my contacts CSV file is the wrong format?

This error usually occurs because the CSV file structure doesn’t match the expected format. Ensure your CSV file has the correct headers and data fields required by the importing system. Check for extra spaces, incorrect delimiters, or formatting issues.

Can I convert VCF files to CSV on my Android phone?

Yes, you can convert VCF files to CSV on your Android phone using specific apps like vCard converter.

Is there an application for creating vCards on MacOS

Yes, there are many apps on the Appstore such as vCard Editor which has a trial period available.


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