Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Migrating Contacts from Outlook/Exchange server to OS X Address Book via MobileMe

For the past year I've had one set of Contacts in Outlook/Exchange server and another set in OS X Address Book/MobileMe. My iPhone pulled in both sets, so they met there. (I'll omit the added complexity of how I sync to Google.)

This worked quite well, but now I need to bring all my Contacts into OS X Address Book. There are several ways to do this [1], but in the midst of some quick Google searches I remembered I'd written about this. I like my approach best, as detailed in two 2009 posts (neither of which rank highly on Google fwiw [2]):

The value of this approach is it uses Apple's own software to manage the Outlook to Address Book translation. The problem is that it requires MobileMe, which is no longer publicly available. I'm hoping Apple will do something similar with iCloud -- assuming they don't shut Windows out entirely.

The software I use is the Contact Sync tool built into MobileMe for Windows. These are the components:

  1. MobileMe (alas, closed to new users ... maybe iCloud will work one day?)
  2. Outlook 2007 running on XP (in my case, in a VM)
  3. MobileMe Control Panel for Windows (no support for Outlook/Exchange, only Outlook standalone)
  4. OS Address Book.

The first step is to get a copy of my Contacts into Outlook 2007 at home.

  1. Clean out all Contacts from Outlook 2007.
  2. Using MobileMe control panel and "sync reset" I sync everything from MobileMe into Outlook 2007.

Second step is to copy my Contacts from Exchange Server to a PST file. This has the added benefit of transforming X400 style email addresses to standard format.

Third step is ...

  1. Back up OS X Address Book contacts.
  2. Add the PST file as a data file and drag and drop Contacts into a subfolder of Contacts (see above articles for details, this is how Apple's sync software treats OS X Address Book Groups -- as Contacts subfolders).
  3. Sync again to get them all to MobileMe and inspect MobileMe.
  4. In OS X sync to get them all to Address Book.

I'm reminded of something I'd forgotten -- how vastly better Outlook is for managing contacts than OS X Address Book -- especially since Microsoft Access can manipulate Outlook contacts. It's reason alone to have my VM keep synchronizing with MobileMe.

[1] CSV export doesn't work very well. There are some utilities that probably work; one reader of mine had success using Plaxo.
[2] A splog that had stolen a post of mine ranked higher than my stuff. Maybe I should start taking Google's ads?

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