Importing a Contact List CSV to the iPad

by Ken Burnside Google

    Most contact-management software has the ability to export your contact list into a comma-separated value file, but no software native to the iPad can import it. Apple's iCloud system of contact management can import your contacts from most email programs, but that isn't quite the same as being able to export a subset of your contacts and just import them to the device. Getting the file imported requires the use of a third-party application.

    Step 1

    Create a CSV file from your existing contact manager, using the procedures in that program's help files.

    Step 2

    Edit the CSV file in your editor of choice; a spreadsheet program makes the task simple. The iPhone's contact manager uses the following fields: "Prefix," "First Name," "Last Name," "Company," "Job Title," "Department," "Phones/Fax," "Phone Label," "Email," "Home Page," "Notes." Make sure these labels are in the top row of the CSV file. Each contact can have up to four phone numbers, and up to two email addresses. Phone labels can be unique per phone number; use this for the contact's mobile, work, home and private phone numbers, for example.

    Step 3

    Save the CSV file.

    Step 4

    Install the "Contacts In" app on your iPad by purchasing it from iTunes.

    Step 5

    Email the CSV file to yourself, and then open the email on your iPad. Make sure that ".csv" is the file's extension.

    Step 6

    Tap and hold the attachment in the email file. A menu will come up asking you what app to open the file in. Scroll through the menu and select "Contacts In." This will start the app, which will show the text file, but not as a table.

    Step 7

    Select the encoding style. "Western ASCII" is by far and away the most common. Tap "Next."

    Step 8

    Select the separator. In a traditional CSV file, this will be a comma, but the app recognizes files that use semicolons or tabs, or even a custom separator. Tap "Next." You should see the text file formatted as a table on your iPad. Tap each row to scroll through the data fields. Swipe individual rows to delete them.

    Step 9

    Select which column headers apply to which type of data, and tap "Next." You are asked to verify the placement of contact data on the next screen; the app attempts to sort data appropriately based on your inputs. The iPad will display a simulated contact list from this imported data. The app will not import contacts that already match an existing contact set's first and last name. It will mark them as "already exists." You can swipe to remove contacts that are not needed any longer.

    Step 10

    Tap "Save" to save the contacts. They will be imported into the iPad's contact list.


    • Contacts In is the only app in the iTunes store known to perform this function as of November 2012.


    About the Author

    Ken Burnside has been writing freelance since 1990, contributing to publications as diverse as "Pyramid" and "Training & Simulations Journal." A Microsoft MVP in Excel, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alaska. He won the Origins Award for Attack Vector: Tactical, a board game about space combat.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/ Images