Chapter 12. Import and Export

The concept of import/export is simple: avoid unnecessary data entry. If you already have an extensive collection of contacts created in another program, reentering each one in Outlook is a waste of time and energy. And what about all the data you’ve created with other programs or received from other sources? For organizational purposes, it makes sense to combine all this information in one place, preferably with minimal reentry.

Unfortunately, the simple concepts are often the hardest to apply. Sharing information with others is a way of life, but there is still no widely accepted and implemented universal data format (HTML is close, but not there yet). Software vendors load their products with features, many of which dictate a proprietary data format, making the act of exchanging and combining data sources a frustrating process.

The good news is, Outlook has a decent selection of import and export filters that provide acceptable results with most common data formats. The bad news is no import/export filters are perfect. The more unique the data, the harder it’s going to be to get it from one program to another cleanly.

Many people tend to regard import/export as a one shot deal, used to transfer a complete document or dataset between dissimilar programs. Given the diversity of information Outlook is capable of storing, this is limited thinking. You might, for example, use Outlook’s import/export tools to:

  • Use a filter to export a subset of a single ...

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