Managing Contacts in the Address Book–Using Excel

Use Excel to manage BlackBerry contacts in address book)When I upgraded to a BlackBerry, Verizon customer support transferred 100+ contacts from my old (non-smartphone) phone into my new phone. It worked except that many of the first, middle, and last names got mixed up. Shortly thereafter, I needed to enter a big batch of new contacts by hand. I REALLY didn’t want to do all that data entry using the BlackBerry keyboard. So, I found a way to manage my contacts using my desktop computer, BlackBerry Desktop Manager, and Microsoft Excel.

Some readers might prefer to manage their contacts using Microsoft Outlook and synchronize their BlackBerry with Outlook. That’s a great idea, and BlackBerry Desktop Manager can certainly do that. But for me, that’s no good because I don’t keep my phone contacts in Outlook. And, as I explained, my original contact list came from my old cell phone. So, the technique I describe below allows you to move your contacts back-and-forth between an Excel-compatible (text, CSV) file and your BlackBerry.  [POSTSCRIPT: Or, as one reader demonstrated, in place of Excel you can use OpenOffice Calc.]

Another reason for using Excel is that I often need to add new contacts, or additional data to old contacts, where the information is available in a file (e.g., document or web page). It’s simple to just copy-and-paste from that file into the Excel file. Very quick and easy! So, if you’re comfortable using Excel (not necessarily an “expert”), this technique might be right for you, too.

WARNING! To be safe, you should back up your BlackBerry using your BlackBerry Desktop Manager. This is a good idea whether you try this procedure or not. If you haven’t done, or haven’t learned how to do, a backup, PLEASE accomplish that first. It’s not difficult to do. Don’t wait for an accident–be prepared. I don’t want to feel responsible if something goes wrong and you mess up your BlackBerry data attempting my procedure.

So, here’s how I manage my address book contacts using Excel:

On your computer, run the BlackBerry Desktop Manager (if you don’t know what that is, click here). From the main menu options, select Synchronize. (The first time through here, you’re not really synchronizing but creating a file of contacts on your computer that you can synchronize with later.)

BlackBerry Desktop Manager main menu

Select the Configuration tab and click the Configure synch… button. (You’re about to decide what you are synchronizing from and to.)

BlackBerry Desktop Manager Configure Synch

Select the BlackBerry Address Book to synchronize using the ASCII Importer/Exporter. Click Setup… to choose synchronization options.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager Address Book

Select the direction of synchronization (or data copying) from device to ASCII Importer/Exporter. Click Next.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager Sync From

Select the ASCII Importer/Exporter (to choose to export the contacts to an ASCII, or plain text, file rather than to Outlook or Yahoo). Click Next.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager ASCII Importer/Exporter

Click Options. (You’re going to decide exactly how the text file data will be formatted.)

BlackBerry Desktop Manager Options and Browse

Select Comma and Double quotation marks, if they’re not already selected. (This causes the creation of a so-called Comma-Separated-Value, or CSV, file. This is an extremely popular and useful text file format. It’s easy to read and imports beautifully into Excel as well as a vast number of other programs.) Click OK to close that window and return to the previous window.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager sync options

Now click Browse… to choose where your contacts text file will be stored and what it will be named.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager Options and Browse

Select where you want the file to be saved (e.g., My Documents folder) and what it will be named (e.g., BlackBerryAddressBook.csv). It’s important to use the .csv file extension in the file name. Click Open.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager file save

Now, you’re finished configuring everything to do synchronization from the device to a text file on your computer. Click Finish.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager sync config finished

You return to this screen. Click OK.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager Address Book to ASCII Importer/Exporter

You return to this screen. Select the Synchronize tab. Click the Synchronize now button.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager sync now

There will be a flurry of activity as the contacts are read from the BlackBerry. The number of contacts will be counted. Click Accept to write the contacts to the text file.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager accept contacts

You will see another flurry of activity as the contacts are written to the text file. You will return to this window. Click Close.

BlackBerry Desktop Manager sync close

You will return to the BlackBerry Desktop Manager main screen (not shown here). You can close that program now if you want. Now you are ready to open the text file in Excel, examine your contacts, and do any editing.

I won’t include screen shots of Excel, but in Excel you will find rows and rows of contacts under these headings:

First Name
Middle Name
Last Name
Company Name
Work Phone
Work Phone2
Home Phone
Home Phone2
Other Phone
Mobile Phone
Email Address 1
Email Address 2
Email Address 3
Zip/Postal Code
Home Address1
Home Address2
Home Address3
Home City
Home State/Prov
Home Zip/Postal Code
Home Country
Interactive Handheld
1-way Pager
User Defined 1
User Defined 2
User Defined 3
User Defined 4
Web Address
Direct Connect

Most of the fields above will be blank. Edit them to your heart’s content. I would be careful to preserve the heading/column order and labeling; altering the column width in Excel is not a problem. Lastly, be sure when you save the Excel file to preserve the CSV (.csv) format (not as .xls, .xlsx, or anything else). I’m quite sure you can sort the rows any way you prefer inside Excel. When the contacts are back in the BlackBerry, you can optionally sort them by first name, last name, or company.

[PostScript, 2009-07-17: Many readers have had problems with the entry of phone numbers that are prefixed with a zero or a plus sign (+). Excel wants to reformat that entry like a "regular" number and remove the leading zero or plus sign. What you want to do is have Excel treat that string of numbers as text instead of a number. You do that by entering a single quote character (') at the beginning of the phone number, like this: '+442071112345. Or this: '0881112345. HOWEVER, if you use this trick, you must save your work TWICE: once in XLS (or XLSX) format, and once in CSV format. The XLS format preserves the formatting "trick." The CSV file preserves the number string, but loses the formatting trick. The CSV format is used to import the Address Book into your BlackBerry. The XLS (or XLSX) format is needed if you want to go back and do more editing. If you re-open the CSV file to do editing, you'll find your phone numbers have lost the leading zero or + sign. If that's not clear, leave me a question at the bottom of this page.]

Now, I’m too lazy to provide full details and screen shots on how to synchronize your edited Excel file data back to your BlackBerry. Basically, you just repeat from the beginning the above procedure except when you get to the screen below. This time, make the selection to reverse the data flow direction to Device (as shown below). Note: if you don’t select the checkbox labeled Replace all data in the target application, you will get duplicate contacts in your Address Book.

[PostScript, 2008-06-02: Thanks to reader Nicole for this tip: Close Excel before you attempt to import your contacts back into your phone, or it won't work correctly.]

BlackBerry Desktop Manager sync to

Whew! This post was a lot of work. I hope it helps somebody. Hearing one positive comment from a reader usually makes this all worthwhile.

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About the author

This entry was contributed by Kelly Carter
84 entries have been written by this author.

282 comments on this post

Bill says:
Jan 20, 2008 - 04:01:59

Well I’m glad I found this blog! I also just got the 8130 and need to enter my contacts. The guy at the store said that since I am not using an outlook link, I would have to enter them manually. He offered to pull them from my old phone but I can’t find my data cable and the phone is so old there is no way they have one.

I started entering my measly 75 contacts and said to myself, I better see if there is another way. I googled “pearl 8130 entering contacts” (w/o the quotes) and your blog was first on the list. Funny too since it looks like you just wrote this today.

Thank you so much. It worked great.

p.s. I’m on Sprint and would you believe I can’t do picturemail(mms, texts with pictures) on this thing. I can get picture texts, albeit I have to open the image in the browser, but I can’t send them.

Jan 20, 2008 - 06:01:45

You made my day! I was so pumped at finding the Excel solution, and wanted to share my discovery with others who might be in the same predicament. When I got into the post, I couldn’t believe how much time I was spending on it (I’m a little compulsive about detail and error-checking sometime). If nobody ever read it, used it, and commented on it, I would have been very disappointed. So, I’m glad you found it useful.

Please check back often or subscribe via RSS. I plan on working hard to post interesting things as I find them.

mgkbull says:
Jan 20, 2008 - 08:01:51

I’m sorry you have the unfortunate experience to be with Sprint. I’m with VZW (work for ‘em too), and I can do anything with mine. I wonder why they put that limitation on yours?

Adam Brown says:
Jan 21, 2008 - 03:01:52

Thanks for this! A few months ago I created a CSV file for precisely this purpose, since I’m very suspicious of ’synchronising’ things and the uncertainty re conflicts, but couldn’t remember how to back it up.

Excellent post, much appreciated!


Jan 21, 2008 - 06:01:40

Very good read. I am moving away from the BES and M.S. exchange to implement a linux solution. I had to find a way to use the webmail client and still have a way to populate the address book. Needless to say this was very helpfull.


Find the Truth!

Daren says:
Jan 22, 2008 - 06:01:21

Thank you very much for this awesome article. I have been looking for an easy way to modify my address book on my desktop without using Outlook. The work you put into this article is very much appreciated.

cojovi says:
Jan 25, 2008 - 02:01:26

this was extrememly helpful!! thanks for your time and effort in posting it!!!

Robby says:
Jan 27, 2008 - 09:01:02

Worked flawlessly! Thanks for all your info , sure saved me a lot of keystrokes.

Daktor says:
Jan 28, 2008 - 02:01:30

Thanks! So much help…

Dntbstpd1 says:
Jan 29, 2008 - 10:01:16

Um, new to the BB experience, but does the Backup Assistant with Verizon not take care of this? All i have to do is update my old phone, turn it off, turn my new phone on, download the program with the same number and update on the new phone and it pulls all the names and phone numbers from the Verizon website where i backed it up…?

Jan 30, 2008 - 02:01:10

Your method works for what you wanted to do–transfer contacts from one phone to another (except that in my case the first/last names got mixed up in the transfer), but for some other cases it doesn’t help. For example, if I want to hand enter a large number of contacts into my phone, data entry in Excel on a real computer is far superior to using a phone keypad. Or if I have a file on my computer with lots of contacts in it, it’s far easier to make an Excel file (e.g., CSV) out of it and use my method to get that into your BlackBerry. In summary, the Excel method is super when you have lots of data entry to do, or you have data already entered but you just need to get it into a format your phone will accept. Thanks for your question.

Mike says:
Feb 1, 2008 - 03:02:07


I was very pleased to find your blog. The Blackberry Pearl 8130 is my first smartphone; just bought it last week. I didn’t want to spend the money for an iPhone which would have been my first choice. So far I am very happy with my VZW phone and this particular post was a great help. I use Thunderbird as an email client so I exported my address book as a .csv and edited the file (using Calc) adding in the 60+ contacts from my old phone. I synced the file to my Blackberry using the method you described and it worked flawlessly. Thanks for the help. I’ll be watching your RSS with interest!

ChrisC says:
Feb 1, 2008 - 09:02:04

Thanks very much for this, worked like a charm, and very helpful for those moving to BB for the first time.


Cheryl says:
Feb 2, 2008 - 07:02:08

Very good plan. Do you have any idea how to sync Windows Calendar, using Vista?

I was able to sync Windows Mail by selecting Outlook Express in the list, but the only options I get for my calendar are ASCII Importer/Exporter and Yahoo.

I am new to Blackberry and have been struggling to get this part going.

Thank you.

Feb 3, 2008 - 02:02:01

I’m sure it’s possible to sync with Vista/Windows Calendar, and I tried something that got close, but not good enough. Windows Calendar exports its calendar to an iCalendar (.ics) file format. The ASCII Importer/Exporter option requires (as best I understand) a Comma-Separated-Value (.csv) format. I found a trial program at that was able to convert the Windows Calendar .ics file to a .csv file. And I was able to import it using the same (lengthy) basic method I describe on this page for Contacts/Excel. But the calendar events all imported as “All Day” events. After some experimentation, I realized that the BlackBerry Calendar and Windows Calendar use different names/labels for their calendar data. That’s probably why BlackBerry doesn’t understand how to import the calendar info correctly. You could edit the .csv file by hand in Excel, but that’s way too much work for something you want to sync frequently.

If you have the guts to try this, here’s what I think has a chance of working, but it requires you have Outlook: (1) Export your Windows Calendar (to a .ics file), (2) Try importing that .ics file into Outlook, and (3) Use the sync-from-Outlook method you already mentioned. Since you mentioned trying Outlook Express, I’m guessing you don’t have Outlook.

Many of my co-workers are trying to convince me to use Google calendar (since they do), and I probably will. If so, there appears to be a new Google app that allows syncing of Google Calendar with BlackBerry:

Please stay in touch with me on this, as we might have some common interest here.

Cheryl says:
Feb 3, 2008 - 03:02:45


Thanks for the ideas. I don’t want to use google as I am not convinced they are secure. But, I have more than one machine. I may see if I can use the BB software on both. Now, the trick there will be, using Vista machine for syncing email, and the XP machine for syncing calendar. That would mean exporting my Vista calendar to a file, saving that to a jump drive, going to the XP machine, converting it to the .csv, then synching the calendar on that one, saving it back to the jump drive and converting again back to .ics.

Seems like it may work. It sounds inconvenient, especially for travel since my XP is a pc and my Vista is a laptop. But, I may try that at least until I can take the time to find a Windows Calendar sync method.

If it works, it may at least be faster than changing the all day appts and moving everything into an excel sheet, making some changes, etc.

It’s not that I CAN’T use Outlook with Vista. At least, I think. It’s just the principle of it at this point. As I understand it, MS at one point finally agreed to cooperate with BB, then immediately changed their settings.

One other thing I may try is using Windows Mail and Outlook calendar on the Vista machine.

I will keep you posted.

Casey says:
Feb 7, 2008 - 01:02:29

Thanks for the great info. I just purchased the 8130 last week, and so far it’s been great, except that I can’t sync with Outlook. The desktop manager won’t bring it up as an option. I’m running XP & Outlook XP (2002). Any ideas?

Also to Bill from above…
I also couldn’t send mms messages. Turns out all I had to do was a hard reboot (pull the battery out and put it back in…works fine now!) Hopefully that helps!

Feb 7, 2008 - 08:02:22

Glad to have you in the 8130 “club.” Are you saying that when you use the Desktop Manager and try to do the “Configure synch…” step that Outlook does not show up as an option to sync to/from? If so, what DOES show up as an option(s)?

I found something on a BlackBerry web page ( ) that was puzzling. It listed Outlook XP as compatible but seems to be qualifying that as Outlook XP “Corporate or Workgroup Installation” versus plain vanilla Outlook XP. I’m not sure what that’s about, but I suspect that it’s worded that way for an important reason. If you continue to have problems, is there a chance you could get upgraded to Outlook 2003 or 2007?

Thanks for trying to help Bill (comment #1).

Keep coming back. When I can steal the time, I have a long list of new posts that I want to make on some interesting 8130 topics. I’ve developed an addiction to this blogging even more than to my BlackBerry itself.

Casey says:
Feb 8, 2008 - 01:02:25

Hi Kelly,
Thanks for the fast response! Yes, when I try to configure sync, there are only 2 options, Yahoo and ASCII importer/exporter. I was confused, too! I actually got my copy of Outlook (and the rest of the office suite) from my university back in 2002 right when it came out. It was free to me as a student, so that was a big plus. It is listed as Office XP Pro, version 2002. When I got myself a new computer a year and a half ago, it came with a 60 day trial of Office 2003, but I never upgraded because I already had this version, which worked (and continues to work) just fine…until now! It’s possible that I may have to update…I will have to do a little digging on Microsoft’s website to see what comes up for that version. It’s just weird that Outlook doesn’t even come up on the list!
Thanks again,

Casey says:
Feb 14, 2008 - 12:02:18

Just an update..
I was able to update my office xp software to service pack 3, and that seemed to fix my problem. I’m now in perfect synching harmony!
Thanks again for your help!

Randy says:
Feb 19, 2008 - 10:02:40

OMG!!! Thank you!

I tried for a few days to get the Blackberry/MS Outlook to work so I could edit my cell but I couldn’t.

I read your website and within 10 minutes I had it working and I was able to edit all 357 of my phone book entries.

If you ever need a kidney let me know!

Randy Powers
Tampa, FL

Feb 19, 2008 - 10:02:47

Now that’s a generous offer–body parts! That’s hilarious. I doubt anyone will ever top that one. Well, it’s rewarding enough just to know how grateful you are. And that the info in the post really works–for yet another person.

Tim says:
Feb 20, 2008 - 03:02:47


I followed your very detailed instructions (thanks!) to populate my new Pearl 8130 with the contacts from my old VX8300. Everything seems to be in order, the import file is saved as a CSV and matches with the few contacts I already put into the Pearl. But, when I import the file to the Pearl nothing new shows up in the Address Book. I don’t get any errors at all. I also ensured there are no special characters (@, &, #, etc.) anywhere in my import file. Any ideas on why this isn’t working for me when it seems to work for everyone else?

Thanks again for this excellent post!


David says:
Feb 20, 2008 - 05:02:30

My boss has been asking about exporting his contacts for a while now. You really saved me a great deal of time.

Tim says:
Feb 21, 2008 - 04:02:00


I finally got my contacts to import into my Pearl. What I had to do was to import a bogus file in order to wipe out the existing data (8 contacts manually entered). This bogus file was incorrectly configured, thus unacceptable to the Pearl and I also had the box checked to replace all data on the Pearl. Once I validated that the address book was empty I then retried the import and it worked just fine. I’m not sure why I had this issue and nobody else did (or isn’t saying).

Regardless, I’m very thankful for your instructions as I was not looking forward to manually entering all my contacts using SureType! (UGH!!!!).


Feb 21, 2008 - 04:02:21

I thought I had left a reply to your comment #23. Anyhow, I’m glad your problem cleared up, and thanks for returning to leave an update. It might help someone in the future.
Take care,

Jonathan Biccum says:
Feb 24, 2008 - 12:02:49


Thank you so much for posting this how-to. It was the first thing I found when I hit up google for a way to synch my contacts up. Like most people I’d already had an Excel sheet set up with all my contacts. It took all of 15 minutes to copy over all 108 contacts into the new spreadsheet and upload it to my Pearl. What a breeze! I’d been pulling my hair out over this for the past three days and really did NOT want to have to enter everything by hand. You saved me hours of pointless work as well as some really sore thumbs! :)

Thanks man.


Feb 24, 2008 - 07:02:39

You can see from my photo that I’ve lost a lot of hair, too, over the years dealing with the frustrations of computing. Glad I saved you a few follicles.

Steve says:
Feb 25, 2008 - 09:02:42

Thanks Kelly for this posting. I am new to BB – just got my Pearl over the weekend. This definitely helped me transfer the 100+ contacts and to update additonal information for each one that I couldn’t in my previous phone. This site is amazing! Appreciate all the time and effort you put into this blog.


Feb 29, 2008 - 10:02:06

I love you man!!!!! About to trade my pearl back in. You saved the day with the excel trick. Hope I can find something as simple as this for my calendar. Thank you.

Mar 1, 2008 - 01:03:05

I love you, too, man. But we gotta stop meeting this way. People will talk.

FonJu says:
Mar 1, 2008 - 02:03:00

My last phone was a Palm OS Samsung i500 from Sprint. Now I’m on a Pearl 8130.
I still have my palm desktop and the i500 but can’t get the BB deksptop mgr to transfer the contacts. It seems to want a Treo device.
Has anyone had this problem as well?


Dave says:
Mar 1, 2008 - 11:03:59

Excellent instructions. Saved me several minutes if not hours.


Here is an Excel command string I used to construct e-mail addresses from a list of first and last names that I had from a company phone list. I had the first and last names, but no e-mail addresses:

First Name Middle Name Last Name
Joseph Blow
Jane Doe

The e-mail column was column “O” in the spreadsheet. Here’s the formula I had in cell O2:



Once you’ve copied the formula in as many rows as you need, you’ll have to select all of the newly created addresses, copy them and then select “paste special” “values” to convert them from formula back to pure text string. It sure saved a lot of typing for me.


Mar 1, 2008 - 03:03:17

I almost guarantee that I and some other readers will need to use your Excel trick at some time in the future. So, thanks for sharing it. I’ve always joked that if I were stranded on a desert island with only one application program, it would be Excel. You can do almost anything with it.

Andy says:
Mar 4, 2008 - 07:03:27

Fantastic time saver. I knew there had to be a way, and your article saved me a ton of time and work. Thanks for puting it together and making is such a clearly written article. I have used the Excel sync several times and will continue to add to my contact list using this method. THANKS!!!

Best regards,


Mar 4, 2008 - 09:03:57

I know–I’m glad I discovered how to do it. Excel is so cool for doing tasks like this one. Glad it helped you.

Chaman Chambu says:
Mar 6, 2008 - 10:03:51

Hi Kelly,

It is really great to have a blog like this. I know you put considerable time in this. I am more thankful for this. It makes me love my Pearl more and more!

I have a quick question. I am not sure if anybody has figured this out. I don’t want to buy data plan and i use data in as-you-go mode. As you might guess, it is extremely expensive to do that.

I was wondering if somebody has figured out how to sync pearl with outlook without subscribing to any of the data plans? I can sync my address book and calendar with outlook (which in turn syncs with gmail and google calendar), but I can’t figure out how to sync outlook.

ultimately, what i want to do is bring all my mails to outlook and sync that with pearl.

Oh, as I write, google announced ‘easier’ way to sync your calendar with outlook (and in turn your Pearl!!). Just to let all the guys know..


Jorge says:
Mar 7, 2008 - 12:03:58

I used your instruction set on my Vista machine with my new BB Curve. The file was created no problem and i added some contacts to it. I am stuck trying to get it to go back to my Curve. I change the setting to Import vs Export and it looks like it syncs, but nothing comes up on the phone. Any suggestions? I seem to be missing your screenshot that allows me to reverse the data flow. Any suggestions? Thanks

Mar 7, 2008 - 05:03:33

It may be that my instructions left out something, but I don’t see where. Numerous readers have followed the instructions with success, so if I left out something, it must be something minor. Would you mind going back through the instructions carefully and try again to get to the screen that “reverses the data flow.” It MUST be there, but maybe I forgot to tell readers to click a particular button to get there. Maybe they figured it out on their own but didn’t tell me I left out a step.

If you discover where I might have left out an instruction, please return to tell me so I can revise the article.

Mar 7, 2008 - 05:03:54

I don’t do syncing with Outlook (yet) so I can’t speak with authority. But I don’t know why you WOULD need to have a data plan to sync with Outlook. It should be achievable purely between your phone and your computer–no Internet required.

Where exactly can we learn about the new Google sync method?

Chaman Chambu says:
Mar 7, 2008 - 09:03:20


Google calendar page has a link to outlook sync thing that I talked about (in their usual, new section).

I too can’t understand why would I need internet to sync my phone to my comp. However, while all the other buttons in sync window are active, the message button is not. I would really like to carry offline version of my mails wherever I go, but can’t seem to find it.

Anyways, thanks for your time.

Brian says:
Mar 7, 2008 - 12:03:50

Thanks for all your great work and keen insights on the 8130. I’m a new user and have gotten acclimated pretty quickly. I have one question regarding this Address Book transfer issue. I used Blackberry Desktop and synched with Outlook upon getting my new phone and there’s one problem. I didn’t know how to exclude people I didn’t want in my phone. I had over 1600 entries/contacts and they are now ALL in my phone!!! (no comments please about stupidity). I know I can wipe all that out and put them in groups, etc. But, is there a way for me to just go through and get rid of the ones I don’t want one by one or should I just start all over using your EXCEL plan. Thanks for your help.


Mar 7, 2008 - 02:03:10

I have not (yet) experimented with Outlook syncing, so I can’t speak with authority. (I need to, as I’m getting a ton of questions!)

I don’t know of a quick-and-easy way to solve your problem. But I would DEFINITELY consider doing ALL my editing work in Excel. Not a chance of doing this on the BlackBerry. Fortunately, now that you have all your contacts in one place, you can export them from your phone to a CSV file, back that up, then start editing.

P.S.–No stupidity at all. You were gutsy to give it a try.

Sam says:
Mar 7, 2008 - 06:03:48

I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU!!! Thank you so much for posting this as I also moved from a Verizon Wireless phone to a blackberry and was quite frustrated with it. You saved me hours and hours. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

Mar 7, 2008 - 07:03:00

Please tell me you’re a supermodel with a boy’s name.

I’m glad it saved you some time.

Chaman Chambu says:
Mar 7, 2008 - 10:03:16

lol@Kelly about reply to Sam

Brian says:
Mar 8, 2008 - 12:03:45


I deleted about 800 contact files using your excel idea. Now I have another question. How come when I go into Synch setup for ASCII it does not allow me to do a two way synch between the Excel file and the phone? Is that something I want to avoid anyway? Or am I just stuck now always doing a one way synch?


Mar 8, 2008 - 07:03:37

I researched and cannot find any explanation for why two-way sync is disallowed for ASCII (plain text). Seems like that could be made to work. For my purposes, only one-way sync is what I want because I’m not doing “synchronization” so much as import/export for manual contact maintenance. Possibly that’s why they named it ASCII “Importer/Exporter” to reflect that subtle difference.

I’m glad I don’t have to talk to as many contacts as you do. At least now you have 800 less?

Jorge says:
Mar 10, 2008 - 10:03:02

Hey Kelly,

I tried again and i can only create the files and import once. I picked export from file to phone, and it seems to go through the process but addresses do not appear. So i added an address on the BB and now when i try to sync or import, the program fails on DM shuts down.

I am doing this with a BB Curve, so maybe the software is different. I may need to try another route. I am trying to avoid outlook as i don’t use it to check my e-mails.

Dave says:
Mar 11, 2008 - 03:03:46


Thank you for this posting, I just upgraded my phone, and I wanted augment my exisitng contact info with email addresses, but did not know of an easy way to do it. I am going to try this process, and look forward to a successful synch.

One additional question, do you know if there is a way to synch my bb pearl 8130 with my outlook calendar (so I can maintain a single work/personal calendar) without also synching other outlook info (like contacts and my work email)

It seems like it should be possible, but I have been leary of trying b/c I want to keep my work and personal information seperate.

- Dave

Mar 11, 2008 - 04:03:40

I get lots of questions like yours about syncing to Outlook. I just haven’t tried that yet for a number of reasons I won’t take time to explain. I hope to experiment with that in the future. For now, I’d refer you to where pretty much everything under the sun about BlackBerries is covered. It’s just such a huge site it’s often hard to find an answer. But I’ll bet you CAN find an answer there. Let me know how it works out.

Richard says:
Mar 12, 2008 - 08:03:09

I’m so glad I found this. I have several address books to copy over to my 8830 so started with the smallest…and I ran into a bit of a glitch.

I use Star Office and saved it as a MS Excel CSV file without a problem and followed your instructions. When I tried synching, I got a message saying that there was a total of 24 records skipped during the synchronization as summarized below:

Address book: Device – 0, Ascii importer/exporter – 24

Please check the synchronization log for more details.

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance!

Mar 12, 2008 - 09:03:48

You were wise to start with something small–you should stick with that plan till you figure out what’s wrong. If you can find the synchronization log, that might provide a clue as to why records were skipped. Do you think the field names matched up? If the original address book did not come from a BlackBerry, the odds are high that the fields don’t match. The Desktop Manager sync tool does have a field mapper but I haven’t tried it (yet).

Prashant says:
Mar 12, 2008 - 03:03:18

worked like charm!

SD says:
Mar 17, 2008 - 10:03:42

Perfect, saved many hours! Thanks.

Johh Soto says:
Mar 17, 2008 - 07:03:59

I just wanted to say thank you for this work, I just bought the phone, and I was having a hard time with my contacts./

I can not tell you how much I thank you.

John Soto.

Richard says:
Mar 17, 2008 - 07:03:08

Success at last! This time it worked, but I have NO idea what the difference was.

Now if there was just a clean way to sync the Thunderbird lightning calendar…

Mar 17, 2008 - 08:03:52

You’re welcome. Glad it helped.

Mar 17, 2008 - 08:03:41

Glad you returned to declare your victory. Wish we knew what made it work, too. Sometimes I guess it’s just persistence.

Can you get Thunderbird calendar synced to Google Calendar? If so, then you could sync from Google to BlackBerry. But that’s a roundabout means of doing it!

Garrett says:
Mar 20, 2008 - 08:03:50

You are the best. This is exactly what I needed. Thank you thank you thank you. Great work!

Mar 20, 2008 - 09:03:05

You’re welcome, welcome, welcome.

Richard says:
Mar 21, 2008 - 01:03:27

I found an article, “One sync to rule them all” but the jury still seems to be out about it.

As a test, I followed your lead and exported the calendar to a csv file (transferring 5 entries without a problem), edited it, and imported it back into the blackberry. It works! Just have to watch the ending times and syntax a bit.

Thunderbird calendar has an import function but no export function, and I’ve not tested importing my csv calendar into Thunderbird yet.

I’m just wondering what other types of database information I can do the same with, perhaps by creating the original document in memo pad. If there is a way to create forms on the blackberry, it ought to work.

Mar 21, 2008 - 02:03:59

Great job with the calendar/CSV trick. You can do the same thing with memos (export/edit in Excel/import) but I haven’t yet come up with a good reason to. Maybe one day.

Heather says:
Mar 22, 2008 - 01:03:35

Thanks for this information. Very helpful. However, I do have a question. I am trying to get the birthdays and anniversaries to load onto the phone correctly. Do you know what format the cell must be to do this? Do you know of an easier way? Thanks for your help.


Mar 22, 2008 - 07:03:12

I wouldn’t know without experimenting, but you can easily do this: Go into your phone and add birthday and anniversary dates (need not be accurate–it’s just for a test) for one contact. Export that to an Excel CSV file. Open the file in Excel and examine the format of the dates for that test contact person. There’s your answer. Please report back so others can know the answer, or if that doesn’t work for you.

Richard says:
Mar 22, 2008 - 12:03:10

Try loading a few test activities, appointments, or events into the blackberry calendar. That way when you export it to a .csv file, you will be able to see the date and time syntax.

David says:
Mar 26, 2008 - 01:03:18

Thank you so much!!! I only wish I had found this blog sooner. It would have saved me a TON of time. I really, REALLY appreciate that you took the time to put this up on the web.



Mar 26, 2008 - 02:03:23

Glad it helped.

Rick G. says:
Mar 27, 2008 - 06:03:57


Thank you for taking the time to put this together! Very easy to follow and worked like a charm.


Mar 27, 2008 - 11:03:46

Appreciate your feedback.

I might want to corresond with you about Distance Learning. Need to look over your site first.

D says:
Mar 27, 2008 - 12:03:11

Any way to have the time automatically stay current when traveling into another time zone (Say from east coast to west coast) without going in each time and manually setitng the time. Seems most phones do this, but not the 8130.

Mar 27, 2008 - 12:03:14

Do Options > Date/Time, and set Date/Time Source to Network (instead of BlackBerry). That way, the wireless cells you travel through will provide the time to your phone.

D says:
Mar 27, 2008 - 01:03:23


I tried that and even called VZW and they had no help for me. The had me do a soft reset with battery removal and even *228, but nothing worked. If you come across other questions/answers, please post. Thanks.

Mar 27, 2008 - 09:03:32

I bought my 8130 just before I traveled from Georgia to Colorado and traversed two time zones. I thought I remembered it changing automatically, but from I’ve found on the web, I must have changed the time zone setting. So it was NOT automatic. I’m not sure which way makes more sense. I guess RIM is thinking it’s better for the owner to decide which time zone the phone is showing rather than have it switch automatically. The network can keep it accurate regardless of time zone setting, but the person has to choose which time zone they want displayed. The more I think about it, I guess that make sense.

Disappointed says:
Mar 28, 2008 - 03:03:30

I was able to get it to excel and made the changes that I wanted, but when I try to get it back to the new phone… I can’t make it happen. I did everything as you said above. Anyone have any ideas?

Mar 28, 2008 - 06:03:17

Sounds like you’ve done everything right but at the end of my article I explain how you need to reverse the direction of syncing from ASCII Importer/Exporter back to the Device. My article is cut short there, but that’s where things seem to be going wrong for you. Start at the near-end of the article and see if you can’t get that part straight. I know this procedure works because a few dozen people have followed the instructions with success (including myself). Maybe my article just gets too vague at the end. Sorry.

Johh Soto says:
Mar 31, 2008 - 04:03:21

so what is the procedure to get the contacts back to the phone?

Mar 31, 2008 - 05:03:32

Johh Soto,
I explain it at the end of the article but not fully. You reverse the direction of the sync, then repeat the process I describe for getting the contacts OUT of the phone. I didn’t repeat the whole explanation so the article wouldn’t be twice as long with the same screenshots repeated. Sorry, but try again.

Apparently Doing Something Wrong says:
Apr 1, 2008 - 08:04:14

I was ecstatic to find all the info you have blogged about the BlackBerry Pearl 8130. I just bought one a week ago and am still having the hardest time downloading my contacts using Excel.

I had a Nextel phone before, and switched from Nextel to Sprint (not sure if that has anything to do with it). The version of the BlackBerry Desktop Manager I have is 4.3. I followed your steps pretty much the way you have it outlined here, except 1 or two things are a little different on my version (i.e. “Select Desktop Application” comes before “Sync…Options). Because of my need to contact a few of my normal personal contacts I have manually added 11 out of 195 contacts. The sync the way you explain it works fine. When I try it the other way, it does not work. It begins to process and then gives me the following:

“Error encountered. Error code – 0×80040057. Check documentation.”

I really don’t want to manually enter the remaining contacts, but I know I will have to add at least 10 more of them sooner rather than later.

Do you have any suggestions of what might be happening here? Your response is greatly appreciated.

Kindest regards, from someone who apparently does not know what they are doing.

Corey says:
Apr 1, 2008 - 10:04:18

How many contact’s can the 8130 hold?

Apr 2, 2008 - 05:04:38

I don’t think there is any enforced limit on the number of contacts. It’s more a matter of how much free memory you have. It’s common for me to hear of some people having a few hundred contacts.

Apr 2, 2008 - 05:04:40

@Apparently Doing Something Wrong,
It may not be YOU that is wrong. You didn’t say if the error was from the Desktop Manager or Windows, of if you could determine that. When I encounter strange problems, I try “easy” things first, then work my way toward more complicated troubleshooting steps.

I would certainly make sure my phone was “on” and ok, and I’d make sure the cable to it was plugged in securely. That’s easy enough to check. And make sure no other USB things could be interfering, maybe by unplugging any other USB devices. (My first guess would be that something is going wrong in the communication over USB between your computer and your phone.)

One thing I do is, where possible, reboot my computer and try the failed process with a hopefully “clean” starting point. When that doesn’t work, if I can remove and reinstall the software I’m using, I try that (in that case, it would be the Desktop Manager).

Let me know if you make any progress using the tips above.

P.S.–I’m also using version 4.3 (August 2007) of Desktop Manager.

Apparently Doing Something Wrong says:
Apr 2, 2008 - 10:04:32

Hi Kelly,
I saw your response. No, I’m not sure who is giving that error. My laptop is low on memory though, so I tried to install the BlackBerry Desktop Manager (BlackBerry Internet Service option) on my work PC this time.

The sync of the current 12 contacts from the device to ASCII Importer/Exporter works fine, but the sync from ASCII to the device results in the same error as before:

Error encountered. Error code – 0×80040057. Check documentation.

Your thoughts?

Apr 2, 2008 - 06:04:39

Apparently Doing Something Wrong,
Check that your Excel file (must be .csv format!) doesn’t have any blank records, records missing important data (first/last name, phone number OR email address), or records with bogus data (e.g. name or phone number with invalid or even unusual characters, or phone numbers too short/long). Since you are experimenting with a small number of contacts, you could save your original file, then use a test copy of it, and delete records one-at-a-time to see if one contact in particular is causing a problem.

Lastly, make sure your phone isn’t extremely low on free memory (Options > Status, read File Free).

If the above fixes the problem, please return to share with me/us.

Praveen says:
Apr 2, 2008 - 07:04:45

Thanks a lot for this great information! Worked wonderfully to perfection. Appreciate all the effort in putting together this great piece of article.

Thanks again.

Apr 2, 2008 - 08:04:43

I’m so happy it worked for you. You’re my first reader from Australia to leave a comment. Tell all your mates about the blog, please!

Apparently Doing Something Wrong says:
Apr 3, 2008 - 12:04:17

Thank you Kelly…it was something simple that was causing the problem – the name of the one of the column headings. I will continue to log on to learn more about how to use this device.

I finally got it right!

Suman says:
Apr 4, 2008 - 12:04:14

Thank you so much – I have been struggling with manually inputing names for my new blackberry and this worked like a charm….

Apr 4, 2008 - 12:04:01

Glad it was helpful.

Apr 4, 2008 - 12:04:22

@Apparently Doing Something Wrong Finally Got It Right :) ,
So glad you figured it out, and came back to share so others could benefit.

molly says:
Apr 7, 2008 - 11:04:36

thank you SOOOOOOOO much!!!!!

Lisa says:
Apr 14, 2008 - 01:04:02

Hi Kelly,

I have read through these above comments and still can’t find a soloution to my pearl problem!
I am running the DM to import my outlook contacts into my pearl but it’s not working. The first error i got was “No applications configured for synchronization.” I figured this problem out and have since added outlook to the list of applications. I have run the synch 10 times and my outlook contacts are still not in my pearl. Any suggestions?

Apr 14, 2008 - 08:04:22

Syncing a Pearl to Outlook is a hugely popular thing to do, but unfortunately it’s something I haven’t done yet because I don’t keep my contacts on Outlook. I will be doing that in the near future, but not soon enough to help you. If you don’t get help from someone on this blog, I highly recommend and Those sites are huge compared to mine, making it harder to find the right place to get help, but you’re more likely to find someone who knows the answer.

klcolon says:
Apr 18, 2008 - 11:04:39

I wanted to thank you so much for your blog. As with other users I am new to Blackberry and inserting 100’s of addresses manually, well let’s just say it’s a job in itself. Your method worked wonderfully . . . .

I also wanted to state to the person making the comment about the “Verizon Contact Assistant” it doesn’t work on Blackberry’s. It will not even allow you to download the program to the phone. Verizon gives you a list of phones eligible for the contact assistant.

I have been a faithful Verizon customer for over 6 years and they blocked alot of application and I dislike it but their service is outstanding! I’ve tried them all.

Thanks again!

Apr 19, 2008 - 09:04:15

Thanks for your comments.

Nicole says:
Apr 24, 2008 - 02:04:31

This was very helpful. You’re a life saver.;-)

Ross says:
Apr 25, 2008 - 03:04:22

Thank you for your help, I had been trying to figure out how to sync my outlook contacts to my pearl and from your site was able to do so. What a pain in the you know what these things are to set up if you have no idea what you are doing!

Apr 25, 2008 - 05:04:15

The whole reason for the success of most blogs and forums like these is that the directions we’re given are usually not adequate. Well, also, we typically don’t read the directions we ARE given, either. But getting help from a fellow BlackBerry owner on the web–that’s a cool way to learn stuff–and beats reading a manual, right?

Paula says:
Apr 26, 2008 - 03:04:12

Thanks for the great info – just became a BB 8130 owner and this saved me tons of data entry. I can’t wait to explore the rest of your site!

Apr 26, 2008 - 04:04:08

Glad to have you as a new reader and new 8130 owner.

Brenda says:
Apr 29, 2008 - 11:04:41

Found the Blackberry Forum Paper on this. Thanks so much for the screen shots and step by step!!! Yesterday I accidentally installed a non-compatible software that forced me to have to restore the original OS. Sad times. Luckily I’m smart now and backup… well atleast now…
I’m not able to get the VZ Backup Assistant to work with my BBerry 8130 – is there a special step for this to work?

Thanks again!!

Bberry forum post:

Apr 29, 2008 - 12:04:54

The 8130 is not compatible with Verizon’s Backup Assistant (see You’ll need to do your own backups. I export my contacts to a CSV file using Desktop Manager in addition to doing DM’s regular backup utility.

Brenda says:
Apr 29, 2008 - 01:04:11

Hi Kelly,

Definitely my plan at this point. Just need to get home to my laptop and usb cable to begin the process. For the example of the rows – Am I right to assume that they are in fact the row’s of the export or are they column headers? Figured I’d get an early start with the excel here at work and my backup assistant’s textual data from online.


Apr 29, 2008 - 07:04:48

If I understand your question, when you export your contacts (Address Book) to a CSV file, then open it in Excel, the first row in the spreadsheet will be the column headers of the contacts. All subsequent rows will be contacts.

If you’re trying to restore contacts from Backup Assistant, you can export an empty Address Book to your computer to get a CSV file with headers to start loading manually with contacts. Then you can import it to your phone.

John P says:
Apr 29, 2008 - 11:04:05

Hi Kelly
Thank you very much, you’re the man! I spent all day unsuccesfully trying to get my contacts off my old phone, so I’m very appreciative for your way of manually getting them on my new Pearl 8130. You just saved me a lot of time.

German Munoz says:
May 1, 2008 - 12:05:42

Thanks for taking your time to do this awesome blog.
I am in love with my BlackBerry, but as in any love story, there will be something that make us cry. for me, it is that spell guesser that is trying to help me and it is going to make me crazy.

Thanks you very much.

If you ever write a column about “Marriage, women and understanding”, please let me know. That is another love story with a few crying scenes. (to say the least)


Almar Diehl says:
May 1, 2008 - 07:05:34

Hi Kelly,

great post, do you also happen to know if it is possible to add groups that I have in my BB addressbook to the CSV file?

May 1, 2008 - 11:05:02

@German Munoz,
By “spell guesser” I think you’re referring to SureType. I have several articles on the blog where I try to help with SureType. It can be very frustrating at first, but people report that when they figure it out, they LOVE it.

It’s interesting that you suggest an article about “marriage, women, and understanding.” I’m afraid anything I could write would be terribly inadequate to deal with that subject. I’d rather stick with a simple subject like the BlackBerry. ;)

May 1, 2008 - 11:05:14

@Almar Diehl,
With the BlackBerry, there are “groups” and “categories”. Groups can be used to create an email list or message (MMS only?) list. Categories can be used to organize contacts (or tasks or memos) to narrow your searches.

You can edit Categories in the CVS file by finding the column (heading) of that same name. I can find no way to edit Groups in the CSV file, however.

Eva says:
May 1, 2008 - 03:05:58

THANK YOU SO MUCH. I have been searching the web everywhere, calling my Verizon support network, … this is EXACTLY what i was looking for. Thank you thank you thank you, you have just validated my purchase of the Pearl. :)

May 1, 2008 - 03:05:44

If I could just get a commission from Verizon!

Glad you found the help you needed.

Li says:
May 2, 2008 - 11:05:29

Hey Kelly, just want to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I have been online for at least 3 hours trying to find a way to get my phonebook in RAZR to my new BB Pearl… and you finally gave me the answer I needed..
Again, Thank you so much!

Jennifer says:
May 13, 2008 - 09:05:36


May 13, 2008 - 10:05:47

I’m guessing you got some contacts loaded. Kelly

Nikole says:
May 13, 2008 - 11:05:11

wow – thank you so much! i just had to change phones because a couple of the pins where you plug the charger into were broken. of course this is also where they plug in to transfer data. since i had never performed a backup, i was facing either losing all of my contacts or spending an extensive amount of time getting them all into the new phone. at&t did tell me i could save one number at a time to my sim card and copy over that way but most of my contacts have other info, email, addresses, dob’s, etc which i would not be able to save to the sim card. frantically searching the web for a solution, i found your blog last night, manually typed them all into excel, got the new phone today and just did the import as you show here…. IT WORKED!!!! you are a life saver – thank you again so much!!

May 14, 2008 - 12:05:15

Sorry about your broken phone, but I’m glad you got it replaced. And glad you got your contacts imported. Hope you return to find more useful info.

ChopperJim says:
May 24, 2008 - 03:05:27

Great! This helped me out tremendously. Your instructions were clear and saved me hours of frustration.


Dan says:
May 26, 2008 - 03:05:19

Thank you!! This was so helpful. One bit of advice for anyone using OpenOffice- you have to exit out of the Calc program completely before you sync up or else the Desktop Manager will just close out of the sync without actually doing anything. Hope this helps to spare someone a few minutes of frustration! Thanks again- this is an excellent resource.

May 26, 2008 - 06:05:41

Thanks for sharing that tip.

Alex K says:
May 30, 2008 - 10:05:26

Great post! Thanks for the help.

May 30, 2008 - 01:05:03

Alex K,
You’re welcome.

Nicole says:
Jun 1, 2008 - 11:06:32

Thank you so much for these directions.

As a hint to other users… I could not get the contacts from my computer to my phone. Same problem Tim had (post 23 and 25), but his solution did not work for me. When I CLOSED Excel the contacts imported perfectly. Maybe that’s something obvious to others, but I thought if someone else got stuck, maybe that would help!


Jun 2, 2008 - 09:06:27

Thanks for sharing that tip. I’ll revise my article to include that.

Dermot says:
Jun 4, 2008 - 04:06:22

Great idea and much appreciated. Unfortunately excel is determined to reformat the phone numbers due to the + sign I put in front of international numbers. I have tried formatting the cells in every way I can think of. Can you help pls?

Jun 4, 2008 - 07:06:59

I hadn’t run across that problem yet but I understand it. In Excel, if you put a single quote mark in front of an entry, Excel considers it just a simple text string. If you put the single quote just before the plus sign, it should be left alone. Please try that and let me know if it works. I hope it does.

Jamison says:
Jun 5, 2008 - 12:06:22

Thank you soo much for this info. I thought I was going to carpal tunnel entering my 400+ contacts from my old treo by hand!

Jun 5, 2008 - 01:06:16

It would be a nightmare to enter 400 contacts by hand. I think I’d rather just start over with a new set of contacts! ;-)

Michele says:
Jun 9, 2008 - 08:06:58

Thanks a ton – I just got a Pearl and tried to use the Tmobile service to send over all my contacts but it won’t work. I have A LOT of contacts and it worked like a charm

Jun 9, 2008 - 09:06:29

Glad it helped you. Keep coming back!

Lydia M says:
Jun 10, 2008 - 04:06:48

Hi Kelly,
New Blackberry Curve. Empty address book. Getting error message OX 80040057 when importing csv file. Matched up the field names. Stuck for why this import is not working.
Don’t use Outlook. Data comes from Excel. No IT Dept. We are a small non profit.
Any ideas appreciated. Giving it a few weeks before I decide this is too much trouble and switch to something that is not a blackberry.

Jun 10, 2008 - 04:06:01

Lydia M,
Before you swap your BlackBerry, realize you may have this problem transferring to another phone unless it’s the same model your address book came from.

The error code you listed normally reflects a problem with Microsoft software licensing. Not accusing, but is it possible your Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Office (Excel) is not properly licensed?

Beyond that possibility, here’s what I’d try. Enter a very few, even one is OK, contacts by hand into your BlackBerry. Export that tiny address book to your computer as a CSV file. Try the whole process with that known-perfect file and see if you still get the error.

I wasn’t sure if your error came importing into Excel or importing back into the phone. So, please come back and let me know how the above worked out.

Tony T says:
Jun 25, 2008 - 04:06:16

Hello Kelly,

I can export the list from BB to my computer follows your direction but when I import list from my computer to BB, it has nothing? Can you tell me what’s problem? Thanks.

Jun 25, 2008 - 09:06:21

I’ve had readers report that but they usually discovered they were missing a critical step in the instructions. Re-read the last couple of paragraphs and make sure you have all the settings correct.

If that’s not the problem, make sure you don’t have any errors in your CSV file. In Excel, look carefully for a contact (spreadsheet row) with blank information, corrupted information, etc. The headings have to be correct (see article again). I don’t know what your original contact file looked like, so I can’t see for myself if anything is wrong.

Let me know if you still can’t get it to work.

Mat says:
Jun 28, 2008 - 05:06:15


Great post! Worked like a charm … I’ll keep coming back to your blog as I work through all the stuff on my phone.

Many thanks!

James Fairchild says:
Jul 4, 2008 - 10:07:24

I just spent 30 minutes on the phone to my network customer service trying to find out how to do just this thing. Good old google brought me to this excellent tutorial.

Thank you for taking the trouble to share this.

Tiffany says:
Jul 6, 2008 - 05:07:01

In a word..pefect! I am not using the BBerry Redirector settings and was stuck in a conundrum on how to import 500+ contacts! Thanks for the great post!

Eden says:
Jul 13, 2008 - 01:07:48

I just got the Pearl yesterday – I had all of my contacts on my old phone backed up with the VZ Backup assistant. I know I won’t be able to transfer them over with that, but I would like to enter my contacts one by one on my computer rather than one by one on my BB.

I’m confused as to how though, I have already setup my sync so that I can transfer CSV to my phone.. I imported my current phone contacts (only 5 for now) to my computer, and I opened them in Excel. They are in CSV format so they aren’t easily edited or added to. I was wondering if someone could post a link to a normal BB Excel contact file so I could use that as a template?

Also for some reason, my version of Excel can’t convert Excel files over to CSV format. Is there a program online that I could use?

Sorry for all the questions, thanks in advance!
I have been on your site for hours, by the way – EXTREMELY informative! Thanks so much!

Jul 13, 2008 - 01:07:07

You’ve made some great progress so far. You aren’t too far from getting this done.

First, since you say your CSV file isn’t easily editable in Excel, I suspect you might have imported them imperfectly. If Excel understands your CSV file correctly, it will put all your address book headings (field names, column names) in the first row. It will put your contact fields in the subsequent rows. If you adjust the widths of the columns to make it more readable, it should be easy-as-pie to edit. But if Excel didn’t understand that commas were used to separate the values, it might read all the contact fields into a single column, making it a mess to edit. You really don’t want to deal with that.

The directions different slightly if you’re using Excel 2003 versus 2007 (or some other version), but here are the general directions:

1. Open Excel (don’t open your CSV file directly).
2. Do File > Open. In the resulting dialog box, choose the CSV file type. In 2003, I think it’s called Text as a type, but you see .csv in the long list in parentheses beside Text.
3. When the file opens, you will go through one or more dialog boxes where it asked if the file is “delimited” (separated), how (commas), and if Row 1 is headings (yes). Make the right choices. If you do, the dialog box will give you a preview that shows headings and contact data nicely aligned. Click Finish.

Next, you say Excel can’t convert to CSV. It most definitely can. It’s found when you do Save As, choose File Type, and again look for the Text/CSV type. Make sure you save to a place you can find your file; I always recommend saving to the Desktop at first.

I’d be glad to email you an Excel file to start from, but you’re really beyond needing that, I think. You already made the right moves by exporting your 5 contacts–very smart.

Keep me posted on your progress. I advise you take baby steps at first. Add a few more contacts in Excel, Save As CSV. Import to BB. Check your Address Book and confirm all went well. Then take bigger steps. If you’ve got a LOT to enter, make sure you save a known good file from time to time in case you make a dreadful mistake at some point. You won’t need to start from scratch if you have a recent backup.


Lee says:
Jul 16, 2008 - 12:07:54


Great information. It worked wonderfully. My only problem is that the device isn’t accepting the birthdays I entered. It updated names and addresses just fine but isn’t recognizing the birthdays. I tried using different formats for the birthday column too and nothing helped. Let me know if you any suggestions please…


Jul 16, 2008 - 02:07:28

Birthdates and Anniversary dates are stored in a format like this: YYYYMMDD. In Excel, use the General number format in the cell. So, if Barack Obama is in your Address Book, his birthdate (Aug 4, 1961) in Excel would look like: 19610804 . No decimal point, no commas.

Kim says:
Jul 17, 2008 - 01:07:19

I’m a newBBie (first time owner). Love the website so far, particularly this posting. Hope I find others as helpful as this one.

Steve says:
Jul 22, 2008 - 04:07:41

I just got a BB Curve 8330 and had high hopes to use this starting from scratch, but when I followed the instructions (using a newer version of BB Desktop Mgr than shown in screen shots) all I got was an empty .csv file – no column labels. I, like Eden, would love to have a template .csv file into which I can manually enter my contacts, then use that for synching going forward. Anyone know if that exists?

Thanks, in advance.

Jul 23, 2008 - 06:07:07

I can easily provide you one. Email me at to request. I’ll reply with a template .CSV file.

Richelle says:
Jul 24, 2008 - 01:07:32

Thanks so, so much. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out how to import information from my desktop from an old Palm (z22 — i know, i know). But I had lost the device, so I just had the desktop version. This was very helpful! Thanks so much!

I have another weird question — for some reason, when i click a long-distance number to dial from my address book, it automatically attaches 011 (the country code, i think) and then the number. Then it says it can’t dial it. How do I get it to dial directly (with the area code and number, but no country code?)

Thanks again!

Jul 24, 2008 - 06:07:59

Your IP address indicates you get service from the West Virginia area of the US. Sounds like your phone is trying to dial another country (sometimes happens when you get a refurbished phone or buy one used). Open your Call Log or Phone (name depends on theme), and do (press Menu key) > Options > Smart Dialing. For the USA, your country code should be set to +1 and National Number Length set to 10. Check other settings on that screen in case your phone is really configured all wrong.

Let me/us know if that isn’t your problem, or if it fixes your problem, please.

Jackie says:
Jul 25, 2008 - 12:07:43

Thank you for all your information! After DAYS of research and trials, then finding your blog, I have figured out how to get records from ACT contact manager into the Blackberry. Exporting from ACT to csv and into BB gives you the error code 0×80040057, even if you export to a csv and rename all the field headers to the BB headers, and put them in the right order.
You have to 1) export the BB address book from your device per your instructions above 2) export your ACT records to a csv file 3) open both in excel, and then copy and paste FROM the ACT csv file to the BB csv file in the appropriate columns. Worked like a charm!
I have a glitch though. I used the salutation field from ACT, which is usually the first name (Bob instead of Robert) but the salutation header in BB I think is supposed to be Mr or Ms. My problem is that after I put all 200 contacts in, they then had the first name listed twice. I deleted the record names in the salutation column in the excel file, but it did not update the BB when I synched. I could replace the name with a period and it would then have a period instead of the name, I deleted the period, but again no change. Is there an excel trick that says replace with ‘nothing’ in this field?
FYI – ACT contact manager allows you to export particular fields (pertinent to BB) and you can save the map, but it does not save them in the right order (ACT website says it is a problem they are aware of and there are no fixes or work arounds ).
Again, thanks for your excellent how-to.

Jul 25, 2008 - 09:07:37

The BlackBerry CSV file (when exported from the phone) has a header for “Title”. It also has headers for First, Middle, and Last Name. I’m confused by what you’re trying to do with your contact headers.

My recommendation is to (1) export from the BlackBerry to create a known-good CSV file; (2) don’t mess with it!; (3) move your ACT contacts over to the CSV file without altering the original headings. Most mappings should be obvious, like ACT first name-to-BlackBerry first name. Where there might be a conflict, err on the side of not altering the CSV file. If you follow those rules, I don’t know how you can go wrong.

If I’m missing the point of what you’re trying to do, let me know and I’ll try to be more helpful.

Jackie says:
Jul 27, 2008 - 02:07:36

I am not good at explaining. sorry. All you say is right and is what I did and it all worked.
What I am having a problem with is erasing data from a field. Once I synchronized and got all the information I wanted into the BB, I wanted to delete information from a field (in this case, the data from the title field in ACT created a “duplicate” of the first name in the BB so that the address book on the BB looked like this – Robert Robert Smith – meaning the title, first name, last name).
When I deleted all the data in the title field in the csv file (the extra Robert), saved it and re-synchronized, the deleted data is not removed from the BB address book. I can CHANGE the data to something else, but if I just delete the data, leaving an EMPTY field, it does not change on the BB. The field in the csv file shows nothing, but the BB still says Robert Robert. I have tried double quotes, double quotes with a space and a period. If I CHANGE from Robert to double quotes, period or even a different name, the synch will reflect this (”" Robert Smith or .Robert Smith), but I cannot make it show that there is NOTHING in the field.
Does this explain better?

Jul 27, 2008 - 03:07:49

It’s sometimes hard to explain this kinda stuff without pictures, isn’t it?

If you get the CSV file correct on your computer, and you’re confident you have all your contacts in that file, I recommend you totally delete the address book in the phone before you re-sync. That can be done in the Desktop Manager: Backup/Restore > Advanced > (delete Address Book). Have you already been trying that, or not?

BTW–way back I had a similar problem before I figured this Excel trick out. I think I had first and last name both in First Name, or something like that.

Jackie says:
Jul 28, 2008 - 12:07:17

Your solution of deleting the phone address book before re-synching is probably the best that can be expected.
I still can’t understand why changing a record isn’t reflected upon re-synching. I changed the spelling of one of my contacts, just one letter in a name and upon re-synching, it doesn’t change the record to the correct spelling, it adds another record.

It isn’t even my Blackberry either! I am doing it for my partner. But I am extremely curious about how things work, computer-wise.
Thanks again.

Jul 29, 2008 - 04:07:22

I can kinda see why BB might work that way, but not entirely. Here’s a scenario, based partly in fact. I live in a small town, but on my road there are two people named Kelly D. Carter–myself and another person totally unrelated to me.

Let’s say someone knew both of us and had us both in her/his Address Book. If he changed Kelly to Kelli, which contact would get updated? Well, the sync program could try to match phone numbers and update that one.

But what if you changed not only Kelly to Kelli, but also changed the phone number. Which contact would you sync? BB couldn’t possibly figure that out.

In the world of true databases, it is necessary to have something called a Primary Key, such as a serial number, social security number, user ID, account number, etc. That key keeps records separate and distinct. Apparently, the BlackBerry Address Book isn’t a true database, so it has no foolproof way to keeping contacts distinct.

If you think about it, when you do a sync, you get messages about records added or deleted, because that’s easy for the BB to figure out. But changes to records, it’s pretty stupid about. So, if you add/delete records, syncing is easy. But if you change records, I think you better (carefully!) delete the entire Address Book before you resync it.


Richelle says:
Aug 5, 2008 - 10:08:32

Thanks for your help with the phone! Once I had all of my contacts into the Excel file, I had to do quite a bit of cleaning up. Now when I try to re-sync, it won’t allow me to check the box that says “Replace all data” so when I sync, I now have two versions of the data that I changed. Can you help?

Aug 6, 2008 - 09:08:40

If you have all your contacts in Excel, use Desktop Manager to complete erase your Address Book on your phone. See my instructions above to Jackie on July 27. Then when you re-sync, you won’t have duplications.

E Pistorius says:
Aug 20, 2008 - 09:08:50

Kelly – Thanks for a great site! I discovered it about 2 months ago and check-in regularly. I wanted to thank you for the article about editing your address book contacts w/ Excel. I am very particular about my contacts and moved to the BB 8130 after 15 years on a Palm Pilot, during which time I accumulated 1100 contacts (work, family, 4 children, etc). I used your tip earlier this week and was thrilled to get all of my contacts cleaned-up the way I wanted them. I only had one catch that I thought worth mentioning. The first time I pushed the spreadsheet back to my BB the contents of each field ended up all mixed up and unreadable. I had to use the Advanced tab when setting the synchronization options in order to be sure my fields were properly mapped from the spreadsheet back to the device. This has been a problem for me before, so I don’t know why I didn’t check it before synching.

Keep up the good work!

John says:
Aug 30, 2008 - 08:08:58

Hi Kelly:

First off I’d like to say thanks for all the help you’ve provided here!

Second, I’d like to ask, why isn’t all this info available at RIM’S web site, why don’t they have a db table that you can easily enter your data into, obviously a lot of people have been having trouble with this…in other words, why is this stupid phone so difficult to work with?

Thirdly my question to you…I created a csv file by syncing the device addresses (which consisted of two contacts. I gave up after entering these two, figuring it has to be easier to enter data using the pc! Wrong, until now). Anyway…when I opened up the excel csv file every thing appeared to have been transferred over ok. I then typed one new contact’s data and when I tried to save the updated file I got an error message saying that my file “may contain features that are not compatible with CSV”. Do I need to enter comma or quotation marks in the data fields somewhere? Like double quotation marks before and after the first name, last name etc? There doesn’t appear to be any characters in the data fiels of the two existing contacts. I did not move any of the column headings out of the original order and in no way adjusted the file other than adding a friends first name, last name and phone number under the appropriate column, in the third row.

Earlier, before I found this blog, I had tried building an ASCII file using Notepad, and I know there I had to have quotation marks before and after each field of data (first name, last name etc.) but from what I read here it didn’t sound like that was necessary in Excel.

Any ideas as to what I may be doing wrong?

Thanks in advance.


Aug 30, 2008 - 09:08:35

The warning you got is not that you have a problem in your data. Excel is worried that you might not realize that a CSV file doesn’t retain something than an XLS file would. After you’ve saved your contacts to a CSV file, don’t worry about any further warnings from Excel.

Now, it’s often a good idea to put double-quotes around data in the fields of a CSV file, but hopefully you won’t need to do that. A common example is a name like this: John Doe, Jr. If you want the last name to be Doe, Jr., you need to put it in double quotes like this “Doe, Jr.”. Otherwise, the comma after Doe will be misinterpreted as a separator between two fields, not a comma that is part of one field.

If you build a CSV file in Notepad or any other text editor, you are not required to use double-quotes. They are only needed when one data field has a comma in it. But you can never go wrong using double quotes around EVERY field if you want to be safe: “Kelly”, “Carter”, “7705551234″, etc.

Hope that helps.

John says:
Aug 31, 2008 - 11:08:38

Hi Kelly:

Thanks for the quick response!

I tried a couple of different things this morning, such as the first time I did it yesterday, I created a folder called BlackBerry Contacts and then saved the synced csv file into this folder. I also had called the file BlackBerry Contact List.csv. Today I followed your instructions exactly even using your BlackBerryAddressBook.csv as my file name and just put it in My Documents as a single file i.e. not inside another folder.

And it worked! I don’t understand how the changes I made today may have affected the outcome, but, I’m glad it did.

Is there a quick explanation of why we have to go through this rigamoral to enter contacts into this stupid BlackBerry device. Why isn’t this a painless process that is explained clearly in the user guide? I’m so fed up with how “un”-user friendly this thing is, I’d like to toss it in Lake Ontario!



Sep 3, 2008 - 03:09:01

I’m glad you got it working. I know you are frustrated, but the Excel “trick” is not for routine entry of contacts–you can do that more easily in the Address Book of the phone itself. But if you are swapping phones, or trying to import hundreds of contacts from somewhere else, the trick is an absolute lifesave. Read the comments of other readers and you’ll see how much time it saved them.

So, if you’re going through all this for minor Address Book updates or additions, you’re right–it’s way too complicated. Just enter/revise entries in the Address Book itself. Ask me more if I’m not clear.

John says:
Sep 4, 2008 - 07:09:40

Hi Kelly:

Sorry I didn’t respond sooner…life’s been busy!

Are you saying you believe it’s easier to add contacts right into the phone’s address book using that tiny little keypad on the phone? I must dis-agree. I have trouble enough hitting the right key to make a phone call, let alone add extensive data into the address book. One of the primary reasons I picked this phone was it’s usb connectivity, as I assumed (I know, I know, never assume anything!) that there would be a nice user friendly interface to enter data (contacts, adresses, appointments etc.), and I just don’t understand why there isn’t one?

Anyway…my next question to you is…Can I remove some of the column headings (fields) I don’t require such as “Home Phone 2″, “Work Phone 2″, in the excel CSV file to reduce the physical “size” of the file i.e. so that I can see most of the fields on my 17″ CRT monitor? To do this, do I have to go into the Advanced configuration in the Desktop Manager software and edit the Field Mapping settings?

Thanks again for all your help with this,


Elizabeth Pistorius says:
Sep 4, 2008 - 08:09:10

Kelly – I have continued to follow comments on this post since I first read it and added my 2 cents worth back on 8/20. I think you should address the mapping issue I mentioned in my post as you can really mess up your entire address book if the fields are not mapped properly. This could effect people like John, above, who want to remove some of the unused headings. You can remove all you want as long as you also remove the mapping done to those fields in the Advanced tab.

Also, it has been noted that it is a pain in the neck to add contacts directly from the Pearl keypad and I agree. I almost always add contacts using Microsoft Outlook and then use the Desktop Manager to sync the new contact w/ my Pearl.

Thanks for the great site. I am a real techie and have still learned several helpful things from your site. Elizabeth

Sep 6, 2008 - 07:09:37

You’re right that if the Address Book you’re attempting to synchronize with uses a different mapping–that is, different fields and/or field names for contacts in the address book–then synchronization is more complicated and risky. There are so many scenarios that I can imagine, I can’t in a short reply recommend one solution that fits all. If I could recommend only one solution, it would be to first export your BlackBerry Address Book (even if empty) to a CSV file. Open that file in Excel and see the headings. Import your non-BlackBerry address book into Excel and MAKE IT COMPATIBLE WITH THE BLACKBERRY HEADINGS (MAPPING). Rename the headings, change the data formats to be the same, eliminate columns that don’t have an equivalent in the BlackBerry, etc. It’s not easy to explain in detail. Users with difficult problems should write in and ask for help.

One thing to be careful of: A reader who corresponded with me outside this blog had a problem with phone numbers with too many or too few digits, and phone numbers with hyphens and/or parentheses. His contacts wouldn’t import correctly until I directed him to remove all the punctuation marks from phone numbers and make sure they were valid numbers (e.g., 10 digits).

Phillip Bureman says:
Sep 21, 2008 - 10:09:02

Dear Kelly,

Thank you VERY MUCH. Your instructions on how to back up the Curve Address Book to an Excel csv file, worked perfectly. I have been searching for this type of solution and also a better understanding of how to use the Blackberry Desktop Manager. With your help here, I now have an easily editable back up file and I think I am also beginning to better understand my new phone. I will be a frequent visitor in the future and I hope I can learn more from you. Thanks again for all your effort.

Eric says:
Nov 7, 2008 - 01:11:57

Thanks for this… I was despairing never integrating my salespeoples’ Blackberries with another database without a ton of work and new application costs.


rycck says:
Nov 8, 2008 - 02:11:05

You are a hero.. My address book contained 1367 entries, most of which were dups. Something went haywire a few years ago. I took this opportunity to clean up the whole mess


rycck says:
Nov 8, 2008 - 02:11:32

one question… I did a new backup from my BOLD (new BB user). When I do a sync will it synce with the back up file, or is a completly seperate file accessed?

Thank again

Nov 8, 2008 - 07:11:05

I need to understand clearly what you mean. I’m assuming (from this article) that you “backed up” your Address Book using the ASCII Importer/Exporter. If so, you created a CSV file on your computer. That CSV file can be considered a “backup” of your Address Book, but that’s not the same as a backup file you create if you use Desktop Manager’s Backup/Restore function. So, don’t get those confused.

If you use Excel to edit your CSV file, you can use Desktop Manager again to “resync” the edited file back to your phone. So, my answer is that it will sync using the CSV “backup” file.

I’m just not totally sure you and I are speaking the same language here. I’m not sure if you’re talking about restoring a backup file, or if you’re talking about syncing with Outlook, or something else.

Please ask another question if you think we’re not “synced” in our discussion.

Ryan says:
Nov 12, 2008 - 05:11:51

Would this same solution work for trying to sync Act 6.0 with my blackberry curve? I’m very new to all this, so I’m a bit clueless!

Also, can you go the other way as well? Once I’ve made changes on my blackberry, can I sync it back with my Act program using this method?

Thanks for the help!

Ryan (Calgary, Canada)

Nov 19, 2008 - 08:11:58

I just got a Bold and I want to transfer all my contacts from my Nokia to it. I think I have done that and now I want to download to excel per your plan above. However – the version of Blackberry desktop I have does not seem to allow me to do what you describe. When I select “synchronise” it takes me to screens a little different from what you show (this is the latest version I am running). If I select the “synchronisation” sub-folder which sits underneath the “configuration” title I can then select the “synchronisation tab which takes me into the sync config screen where I can select “address book” “Microsoft Outlook”….but I cannot seem to change or navigate my way to getting the Microsoft Outlook bit to say ASCII Importer/Exporter……..what am I doing wrong ?

Nov 19, 2008 - 09:11:55

Here are some instructions for DM 4.6:
1. Open Desktop Manager
2. Run Synchronize
3. On left side of screen click Synchronization (link)
4. Then on right side of screen click Sychronization (button)
5. A box should appear that allows you to select Address Book ==> ASCII Importer/Exporter
6. From there it’s similar to the instructions above, I think…

See if that helps; if not, let me know.

Bernie M says:
Dec 18, 2008 - 10:12:16

As you know Barrack Obama has been selected as Time Magazines “Man of the Year” for 2008. If RIM or some other BB institution were to have their own such annual Award there would be a very small number of contributors amongst the various BB help sites who truly achieve excellence in all aspects of their presentations/solutions. Excellence in this field requires a rare combination of a technical knowledge, an adventurous mind, a sense of humor, a tutor extraordinaire and a down-to-earth writer. You would have to be amongst those at the very top of the candidate list. It has been a big help and a real pleasure to find your site.

As a former Palm user (my Palm was stolen at a Trade Show so it was an opportunity to move over to BB), I synchronized the hand held with the PC on a daily basis. It was so easy to do. There are so many good reasons to make the switch to Blackberry BUT synchronization remains a HUGE hole in Blackberry’s design. Your Excel solution seems to be the answer and I will try that over the next few days. Looking forward to reading your other articles.

Dec 18, 2008 - 11:12:41

That is the nicest compliment I’ve ever received in the hundreds of comments this site has accumulated in its one year of existence. (Although I did have a reader offer to give me one of his kidneys–I think for the above article.) I’m humbled and encouraged to work even harder to improve. I wish I had more time to dedicate to this activity, but I have a very busy personal and professional life. My ad revenue (started just months ago) partly offsets the cost of my BlackBerry habit, but it is the graciousness of readers like yourself that really keep me going to put in the long hours I often do on this site.

For various reasons, I’ll be working on some new articles having to do with synchronization. If you let me know some particulars (your BB model, your sync needs, etc.), I will be sure to try to cover areas of interest to you. I truly want to write about what my readers need to know.

Thanks again for your kind words and your following of!
Kelly Carter

Larry says:
Dec 20, 2008 - 01:12:01

Awesome info! Thanks a million. I spent hours trying to get it to work, finally found your site here and got it done in 20 minutes. I am new to Blackberry and I have the new Blackberry Storm, so for all the Storm users -this works.

Dec 20, 2008 - 05:12:51

Sorry you didn’t find this info sooner. Thanks for confirming the technique works with the Storm.

Gabriel says:
Dec 28, 2008 - 03:12:50

Finally after searching the Internet for a while, I found your article. It is unbelievable that you came up with a so simple but powerful solution as the one you describe to import/export the BB address book. Thanks a lot. You saved me a lot of work!

Dec 28, 2008 - 03:12:47

I think it has become my single most popular article. Thanks for your kind words. Glad it helped.

Pete says:
Dec 30, 2008 - 06:12:46

Kelly -

I have been searching for a way to do this since I got my BB Storm a month ago, so this is a very welcome set of instructions – thanks!

I’m having one problem that I hope you can advise me on. I have completed the setup for for the .csv file without any problem, but when I attempt the synchronization I get the following message:

Synchronization is currently unavailable for:

Address Book

because the application(s) is (are) configured for wireless synchronization.
Desktop synchronization for the above application(s) will be disabled.

I have gone throught the Desktop Manager help, but can’t figure out how to disable wireless synchronization.

Any ideas?


Dec 30, 2008 - 08:12:14

1. Open your Address Book (Contacts icon on Storm).
2. Press Menu key, and select Options.
3. Highlight and click the Default entry in Contact List.
4. Find a setting for Wireless Synchronization.

On my Storm, that setting has only one choice: Not Available. Possibly your phone is a corporate phone that uses a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) that allows wireless synchronization. Mine isn’t, so I can’t.

Let me know how this works for you.

Ames says:
Dec 30, 2008 - 09:12:44

THANK YOU!! Thank you, thank you!! You are my “Crack”Berry hero! I did not want you to think you posted this in vain! ;)

Pete says:
Dec 30, 2008 - 11:12:16

Kelly -

That did it – I had to options (Yes and No) under Wireless Synchronization. I switchted the setting to No, and I was able to generate the CSV file with no problem. BTW – I’m amazed at how fast you were able to reply!

You are correct about me using a BES. My Blackberry is one part personal phone and one part corporate device. The specific problem I was trying to solve was to assign categories to my contacts (Personal, Business and All) to use as filters. Manually editing over 300 contacts was going to be daunting enough that I probably would not have ever done it; you’ve given me a tool that will allow me to complete the task tonight.

Since you are not connected to a BES, let me know if you run into any ‘experiments’ I can perform to help you out – it’s the least I can do.

Thanks very much.

- Pete

Dec 31, 2008 - 11:12:48

So glad it helped. Please return if you have more problems or just want to talk.

Dec 31, 2008 - 11:12:16

So glad that worked for you. Thanks for taking the time to return and give an update–that’s very helpful for me and future readers. And thanks for the offer to help me with BES-related issues. I might take you up on that.

Janelle says:
Dec 31, 2008 - 09:12:52

I have been trying to do this one task for about 6 hours today. Since I don’t have Outlook, and didn’t know what ASCII was, I was stuck. After trying Yahoo, (which I couldn’t use because my internet connection is coming from my tethered Blackberry), researching way more then a lay person should ever know about ASCII (pronounced “ask-ee” if anyone was wondering, and for our purposes is just a .txt or .csv file), and Forrest Gumping my way through the entire process, I found this post. I LOVE YOU, MAN. You just saved me another hour of googling how to properly map my .csv file for syncing with my new BB Storm. (The first time I did it, all that synced was the first and last names, no numbers). Now I can start 2009 in peace. Thank you.

Dec 31, 2008 - 11:12:09

You know, this article has won me so much “love,” and even an offer of a free kidney if I ever needed one. If only I could get a romantic proposal from the right woman! For now I’m just happy that the article has saved so many people a lot of trouble. BTW–I’m impressed at how much you learned about ASCII. You’re right, an ASCII file is really just an ordinary text file–nothing more than that. Happy New Year!

Graham Arlidge says:
Jan 3, 2009 - 06:01:39

Could you explain why the phone numbers I’ve transfeered to the Excel file from my Blackberry look like this: 4.47962E+11 . Thought I had understood it all!!

Jan 3, 2009 - 08:01:16

Your cell formatting for your phone number columns are set wrong–the cells are set for scientific notation (for some unknown reason). Highlight each phone number column and format those cells for General (number with no decimal point). If you don’t know how to format cell number type, tell me which version of Excel you’re using (2003, 2007, etc.). Kelly

LilPhilinKC says:
Jan 4, 2009 - 01:01:21

Kelly is right (as always) but there is another- perhaps quicker solution to this problem: Simply to increase the width of the spreadsheet column in which the phone numbers appear…………….

The easiest way to do this is to move your cursor to the top of the column at the junction of say column C with column D. Note when your cursor changes from the big + sign to the small vertical line with an arrow on each side. At the cursor change point, left click and pull your cursor right or left to widen the column. When the column is wide enough, the formatting should change from scientific notation to something that looks more like a phone number. Alternatively, just highlight the entire column that contains the phone numbers, by right clicking the column letter at the top of the spreadsheet, then left click on column width and manually change the column width to a higher number – something like 15.0 should be more than enough width to change the formatting from scientific. I hope this helps.

Jan 4, 2009 - 09:01:59

LilPhilinKC is correct, that it may just be that your column width was too narrow to display the entire number. Don’t know why I didn’t think of that–sometimes I fire off answers a little too quickly. Thanks to LilPhil for catching my oversight! I love it when other readers give a helping hand.

Graham Arlidge says:
Jan 4, 2009 - 01:01:03

Kelly and LilPhilinKC
Many thanks for your help here: it turned out that the column cell setting should have been to “number” ; when I did that the numbers all appeared in the right place! Great to get such good advice so promptly!

Craig says:
Jan 5, 2009 - 12:01:33

Kelly, excellent work. I too am a first time BB user as I just purchased a storm. My dealer was unable to transfer my contacts from my old Razr. I searched over and over for a program to manage contacts for blackberry. I did find a couple, but didn’t find anything I really wanted to use. After entering about 114 contacts, I stumbled across your post. I still had about 100+ contacts to enter all with substantial info to be entered. I would have spent days manually entering it. So thanks for the great post which is still current even with it being a year old now! There has been minor changes to the desktop manager but it is easy enough to figure out. There were a couple of things I noticed while import/exporting. One was that my picture ID’s were lost during the update. A minor inconvenience since I was saved days of tedious typing! I also lost my mailing list. these too were easy to replace. The second was a mapping issue with the BB desktop manager, I had to fix the User1, User2, User3, User4 fields in order to get these contact imported properly.
I do everything with excel also, so I was thrilled to find this post.
Thanks Again Kelly! I am working on a excel/vba contact workbook to automate my import/export process.

Jan 5, 2009 - 06:01:01

Glad you found the article helpful. I’m planning on updating the article to reflect updates in Desktop Manager, Excel, and BlackBerry models like the Storm.

Dustin says:
Jan 12, 2009 - 06:01:37

Thanks this helped a lot!

Quads says:
Jan 15, 2009 - 10:01:17

Thanks! It’s sad that RIM believes Outlook is the only contact manager out there.
While this is a manual process, it works great. Fantastic step by step. Thanks you for taking the time to do so.

Hopefully one day, they’ll open it to the likes of Thunderbird, Kontact, etc. and get out of the M$ mud.

Jan 16, 2009 - 07:01:01

I, too, wish RIM would invest more time and energy into making the BlackBerry and Desktop Manager easier, more friendly, and useful–and less energy coming out with more and more new models. Focus on quality versus quantity. But another perspective is that they’re allowing some room for third parties to develop supplementary products to fill their gaps. Problem is…there aren’t enough developers out there creating cool apps for the BlackBerry. Thanks for visiting this site and offering your opinion.

PeggyD says:
Jan 17, 2009 - 06:01:31

Kelly, you are doing a wonderful job with this tool. I tried to do this with my blackberry Sstorm and of course it did not work. But I tried before I read your message near the bottom of the page that you were working on this. Looking forward to when this happens. I am switching over from Sprint to Verizon and have tons on contacts on my motorola and am trying to find a simple way of transferring them in lieu of typing each one into the Storm. I would rather type them into a spreadsheet which can be updated at anytime than to type each one into the Storm. Again, thanks for your efforts on helping us get through this mountain of numbers easily.

Jan 18, 2009 - 03:01:36

I still think the same basic technique should work for the Storm, it’s just that my article above pre-dates the Storm, and shows an older version of Desktop Manager. I intend to republish the article to be more up-to-date. But I still think it should be working for you. I hope you come back to read this. If you tell me how it’s going wrong, maybe we can resolve the problem. Again, this should be working for you.

Hamza says:
Jan 27, 2009 - 04:01:22

Is there any shortcut for MAC?

Jan 27, 2009 - 06:01:01

Do you know about PocketMac? You can download PocketMac for free here:

seth says:
Jan 28, 2009 - 02:01:50

your a lifesaver man, well done. had all my contacts ready to roll in excel just couldn’t figure out how to work it… thanks again.

seth says:
Jan 28, 2009 - 02:01:11

p.s. I did it with the new BB Storm…. your screenshots were only slightly different due to the differing version but overall still very easy to navigate.

Jan 28, 2009 - 06:01:57

Glad it worked for you. One day…one day I’ll update this article for the newer Desktop Manager and newer BlackBerry screenshots.

DL says:
Jan 30, 2009 - 09:01:19

I didn’t notice anywhere in the article of the responses as to which direction the CSV data lies in? Ie- I’m doing this by hand and need to create the tables. Do the headings go into the rows (eg- each entry is a row until itself) or do they go into a column (generating a column per entry).

Thanks! Excellent blog post!

Jan 30, 2009 - 10:01:35

The headings are always in Row 1. Contacts go in all the rows below that. So, for example, you’ll have a column of first names, with the “FirstName” heading in row 1, and all your contact first names below that heading in the same column.

If you want to make it easier on yourself, first use Desktop Manager to export your existing Address Book (no matter how small–even if only one contact) to a CSV file on your computer. Open that file in Excel and you’ll have a perfect example of headings and correctly-formatted contacts. You can use that as a pattern to follow. There are more than one way to make this trick work–figure out what works best for you.

Ian G says:
Feb 6, 2009 - 01:02:09

Telephone numbers in the UK start with a zero. I am finding that the leading zero is lost when exported from the BB to a csv file on the PC (making the number useless when imported back to the BB). I don’t have a problem if the number is prefixed with +44 (UK international dial code) – but most of my numbers on the BB don’t have this. I could go through them all adding the +44 prefix but this seems laborious! Any ideas please?

lisa says:
Feb 15, 2009 - 03:02:52

Oh, I cannot thank you enough for all the information I have found here. I have been wracking my brain to figure out what to do with my latest challenge — My boss dumped a 300 page printed address book on my desk and told me to find out how to make it an electronic file that he could load into his new BB. Seems his old BB died and he only has a hard copy of his contacts. Looks like I will have to type all these entries, (there must be 20 per page!). I will try to scan and OCR the pages, but I will still have to format them into the .csv file. Any other suggestions would be most appreciated. Now if I can only get him to give up his BB so I can download a template .CSV file.

Feb 15, 2009 - 04:02:37

Unless his printed copy is in terrible shape, I definitely would try to OCR it. You’ll still have to carefully proof the output of the OCR process, but at least you won’t have to hand type all of that in. Maybe you can even get some help proofing it.

Here’s another important tip, that you can do even now, but it does require your boss give you his BB for only a short time: Use Desktop Manager to synchronize his current Address Book (no matter the size, but should have at least ONE good entry) to a CSV file (using the ASCII Importer/Exporter I mention in the article above). Use that to show you how the OCRed entries must be formatted. For example, phone numbers must not have punctuation marks, and the cell “number type” formatting must be just right. From memory, I can’t remember other formatting requirements, but if you just stay consistent with the CSV file exported by Desktop Manager, and transfer the OCRed ones into the same format, you’ll be OK. As you get into the details, stay in touch with me and I can help more.

lisa says:
Feb 15, 2009 - 08:02:25

Thank you so much for your quick response. The OCR software is on it’s way. The boss is not giving up his device, so I am going to try to borrow someone else’s just to get the csv file format. I think he is concerned about his privacy since he is privy to info that most, if not all, of us are not. I will be doing this on a MAC and originally thought I could use the Pocket Mac for BB appy or Entourage to create the initial address book. Now I will use Excel as you suggest since it is a more long-term solution. Can you direct me to someplace I can get a csv template for the BB Bold? Much obliged. Lisa

Patty says:
Feb 16, 2009 - 01:02:19

I just got a refurshished 8130 and am using vista with a non-commerical microsoft suite – your instructions were great and I have transferred all my contacts successfully. Not sure about the calendar suggestion though. It might be easier to just keep my calendar on my blackberry, smile :)

Feb 16, 2009 - 04:02:10

Glad the instructions worked. As for the calendar, do what works best for you.

Feb 16, 2009 - 07:02:22

I apologize that I didn’t catch your comment until today–not sure how I overlooked it.

If it’s not too late to help, I can whip up an Excel trick that will automatically pre-pend +44 to all your numbers to save you some time. Please return and let me know if you still need that help. Again, I’m sorry I overlooked your problem–that’s very embarrassing and disappointing.

Julie S says:
Feb 17, 2009 - 03:02:43

This will be a lifesaver and exactly the solution I was looking for if I can overcome one last problem. Phone numbers and dates were not syncing. They are in the spreadsheet but do not come over at all. I was able to make the dates come over by changing the format to custom then yyyymmdd (no – / or space). Maybe that bit of information will help someone esle. But I have tried the phone numbers formatted as general, as you recommend in one of the posts., and no luck. Any suggestions?

Julie S says:
Feb 17, 2009 - 04:02:42

Sorry, me again. I now have read through all of the posts concerning this type of thing and see that someone beat me to the formatting of the date. Anyway I have tried changing the columns contain phone numbers to General and Number and Text. Still, when I sync, none of the phone numbers come over. The column width is too narrow as mentioned, and so the numbers look like scientific notation in the spreadsheet. Widening the columns fixes that but once I close the sheet they revert back to the narrower width and thus to scientific notation no matter how I format the cells. I hope there is something simple I am missing. I am using Excel 2003 and Blackberry Desktop Manager v4.7 with a brand new BB Pearl 8130.

Feb 18, 2009 - 08:02:43

Julie S,
When you change the column width, the formatting of the cell (for phone numbers) isn’t really changing, only how it’s displayed. The formatting you selected for it remains the same (e.g., General). I suspect the problem isn’t formatting but something else. First, surely you have removed all punctuation marks (parentheses, hyphens, etc.). Next, are you CERTAIN the heading hasn’t been altered? If a field of data is not going across, I suspect the heading. If you copy-and-paste something I can look at (number, heading) into a comment, I might be able to spot something.

Lakshmi says:
Feb 18, 2009 - 12:02:13

Thanks so much – this method was very helpful to me.

Feb 18, 2009 - 05:02:06

Glad it helped. Thanks for the feedback.

Chrisabel says:
Feb 28, 2009 - 03:02:22


Thank you so much for taking the time to write this article and even go so far as to include step by step screen shots! It saved me a lot of time when switching over to my blackberry. I really appreciate it.



Feb 28, 2009 - 09:02:57

First, you have a pretty name–I haven’t encountered that one before. Thanks for the kind words. Glad the article helped.

Pete says:
Mar 1, 2009 - 04:03:53

I hope this isn’t off topic, but is there a way to assign ringtones in the Excel file – maybe by using one of the User Defined fields? This process has saved me hours of effort; The only issue I haven’t been able to solve is assigning ringtones to the variopus groups of users I have. With over 300 contacts, it’s too much of a pain to do it manually. My users can be divided into about 5 groups (e.g Work, Business Associates, Family, etc.). If anyone has any ideas, I’d be really happy . . .

Thanks again for doing such a great job with this link, Kelly!

- Pete

Mar 1, 2009 - 08:03:24

I don’t know of any way to do what you’re asking, but I agree that would be way cool. I think the BB Address Book is designed to include fields likely to be in common with other programs such as Outlook, so including details such as custom ringtones would not make sense. It would be possible, however, for someone to develop an app that would at least work when migrating or synchronizing information from one BB to another (which is a fairly common event).

lskett says:
Mar 6, 2009 - 06:03:56

Hi Kelly,
I am still working on converting a huge address book to a .csv file. The scanning and OCR work was completed, but the transposing and copying and pasting of the data from vertical to horizontal (columns to rows), is not going well. I have enlisted some help and began manually typing into an EXCEL file that is being saved as .csv
Here is my latest dilemma, All foreign phone numbers do not save as entered and I am losing all leading zeros on zip codes and phone numbers. I have tried changing the the cell to text, but once I save the file as .csv, I lose all formatting. Any help is appreciated.

Mar 6, 2009 - 07:03:31

When you enter into Excel a phone number that has a leading zero or a + sign or such, first enter the single-quote character (’). That tells Excel to treat the number as a simple string of characters, not as an actual number. It will preserve leading zeros, + signs, and such. So, for example, a number for England might be entered like ‘0114401204898705. The leading single-quote character is critical. The quote character shouldn’t show up except while you’re typing in the entry. After it’s been entered, it kinda disappears. And it won’t show up in the CSV file. Hope that helps. What a crummy job, huh? But I know your boss will give you a huge raise. ;-)

Amber says:
Mar 12, 2009 - 10:03:14

WOW! This was SOOO helpful! My ex boyfriend who is a very skilled network engineer said this could not be done….and leave it to you to walk an unskilled computer user through it like it’s a piece of cake! The screen shots were so helpful! Thanks a million!

Mar 13, 2009 - 09:03:41

Your feedback is super encouraging. Thanks!

Polly says:
Mar 15, 2009 - 11:03:44

Thanks so much! I usually bug my son to help me with things like this, but your directions were terrific. I used the OpenOffice Calc and it works with my Blackberry Storm perfectly.

Mar 16, 2009 - 10:03:23

I’m so glad it helped. Thanks for the feedback.

Andrew says:
Mar 16, 2009 - 05:03:12

Kelly, You are the man!! Your recommendation worked perfectly! I am a software designer and so I know good work when I see it. You created an easy to follow, beautifully illustrated “happy path” that really works, and you deserve some kind of gold medal from the folks at RIM. I recently lost my Blackberry in a cab, and had not backed up my address book, which has hundreds of valuable business contacts and irreplaceable personal contacts. Fortunately the cabbie answered my call and returned my Blackberry in exchange for my very grateful reward. But backing up via the Blackberry Desktop Manager requires a phone to view the info – and what if I misplace my phone again? Now I can access and manage my contacts using Excel, which is one of the most powerful software applications ever invented! Thanks again Kelly for providing we newBBies with a great public service!

Mar 16, 2009 - 06:03:23

I’m humbled by your kind words. The sheer number of comments on this article show how needed this method is. I actually need to update it for more up-to-date versions of BB OS, Office (2007), and Windows (Vista). Thanks again for your wonderful feedback.

singh says:
Apr 2, 2009 - 11:04:51

Hi Kelly,
i have the same problem of missing + sign in the .CSV file. the moment I make change by using the prefix ‘ i am unable to save the file as CSV as it says this format is not compatible with CSV (Comma delimited). any idea. i can’t even add ‘00 for the same reason.

Apr 2, 2009 - 09:04:00

Make sure you use the single quotation mark (’) and not the “backtick” character (`). In some fonts, they look the same. But they’re not. That should fix your problem.

John Murkin says:
Apr 17, 2009 - 02:04:01

Excellent. Thank you for taking the time to post this.

Dean Keith says:
Apr 17, 2009 - 05:04:32

This process was also helpful to clear out the contacts list in an old phone I intend to sell.

Apr 19, 2009 - 06:04:20

Thanks for the feedback.

Apr 19, 2009 - 06:04:45

Glad it helped.

singh says:
Apr 25, 2009 - 01:04:37

…no Kelly it didn’t work…I am giving up BB…back to Iphone. Thanks for your help indeed. Many (unfortunate) BB users do need your help. :) !

venkat says:
Apr 26, 2009 - 01:04:57

Hi Kelly,
Thanks for the above article. I transfered my contacts to CSV file and when I opened, the phone numbers are appearing without leading zeros. Is there any way to make it appear in CSV file?. If it is in General format then I get different number totally like 2.545+xx.
Thanks in advance.


Apr 26, 2009 - 06:04:28

You want your phone number entry to be considered by Excel to be TEXT instead of a NUMBER. In front of the phone number put the single-quote character (’). It won’t show up or corrupt the phone number, but will prevent Excel from removing the leading zeros.

Apr 26, 2009 - 06:04:20

Sorry. I wish it had worked out. The iPhone is cool, too.

Apr 26, 2009 - 07:04:38

I’m glad you were able to get it done.

Lisa says:
Apr 27, 2009 - 05:04:12

Hi Kelly,
I have finally completed typing 387 pages of an address book into EXCEL. It is almost 6000 lines of data! I have imported this file into Entourage a few different times, (deleting the old data and closing the application to reboot). Entourage is the MAC version of Outlook. I am now finding a few issues that I hope you can help with. Some of the street addresses are duplicating once they are imported. The Excel file has the data only once and there are no hidden columns. Maybe it is an Entourage issue. I am not sure. The second issue is the leading zero. I used the open quote (under the double quote) and still the zero disappears once I SAVE AND REOPEN the file (.csv or .txt). Any ideas?

Lisa says:
Apr 27, 2009 - 05:04:36

It appears that it is only the Zipcode field that loses the leading zero. I am not having a problem with foreign phone numbers.

Apr 29, 2009 - 05:04:44

First, about the leading zero problem: Use the SINGLE quote character (’) not the DOUBLE quote. It works.

I know you can’t send me the address book for privacy reasons. But maybe you could email me (kellydcarter AT yahoo DOT com) privately one of the entries that is getting duplicated. Please anonymize it by changing enough information to obscure it. I don’t know how else to help without looking at it. Otherwise, look for anything–anything at all–that seems to be different in the addresses that duplicate. BTW–what do you mean by street address duplicating? Where is the duplicate address going?

Lisa says:
Apr 29, 2009 - 06:04:42

Thanks so much for always responding so quickly and being so eager to help. Check your yahoo mail. Much obliged. Lisa

Lisa says:
May 1, 2009 - 11:05:29


Terry says:
May 3, 2009 - 01:05:21

Really helpful stuff… Thanks!

charles says:
May 7, 2009 - 07:05:40

woohoo thanks for all that work

May 7, 2009 - 10:05:19

You’re welcome.

Steve says:
May 9, 2009 - 11:05:30

OUTSTANDING!!! Thanks for the tutorial!!!!

Suresh says:
May 10, 2009 - 09:05:33

I was really glad finding this. But this is the error I am facing after selecting the csv file.
The error in

“Unable to write application data record.
Translation Canceled!”

Not sure if this a problem because of Desktop Manager Version. I’m using V 4.2
Appreciate your help

Suresh says:
May 10, 2009 - 09:05:32

Forgot to mention my phone is a Pearl.

May 11, 2009 - 12:05:15

I haven’t heard of that problem before. I’m assuming that error message was output by Desktop Manager. Knowing that the Pearl has such little memory, it sounds like it’s possible that there isn’t enough free memory to upload the contacts from the CSV file. Try a battery pull to free up maximum memory and try again: remove battery, wait a while, replace battery, and wait for it to recover. Or, if you’ve already done that, try to find something to delete to free up some memory: an unused theme, an unused app, etc. Let me know how it works out.

ryan says:
May 11, 2009 - 03:05:07

Wow! Thank you for much for the useful tutorial. Helped me out big time.

May 11, 2009 - 03:05:34

Glad it helped.

Basti says:
May 28, 2009 - 03:05:56

Hi Kelly.
It works great for me as well, thanks alot.

May 28, 2009 - 09:05:41

Thanks for confirming.

SnQQpDon says:
Jun 2, 2009 - 03:06:25


Thanks. It worked fantastic for me.

Jun 3, 2009 - 03:06:29

Glad it helped.

Jason says:
Jun 6, 2009 - 02:06:28

Thanks Kelly!

I did have problems with the wireless synch of address book, but followed these steps:

Without the help of your BES admin:

1. Go to settings/options->Advanced Options->Service Books and select the Desktop [Sync] service book
2. Click the menu button and select delete.
3. Then do your selective restore or clear from your desktop
4. Then disconnect your BlackBerry and click the menu button on that same service book and select undelete

After that went back to your procedure and all my contacts (and then some) are in my BlackBerry Storm!!

Thanks again

Jun 6, 2009 - 07:06:44

Thanks so much for sharing that helpful hint.

Jason says:
Jun 8, 2009 - 07:06:16


Do you know if the CSV file that is exported can be used as a ‘template’ for other BlackBerry users? Or is that export specific to your device?


Jun 8, 2009 - 04:06:36

Yes, it should work for other BlackBerry models.

Renee says:
Jul 8, 2009 - 09:07:30

Thanks so much for this blog!
the directions were great and easy to follow, i had an instinct before and all my contacts were backed up on sprint mobile sync and it was easy to copy and paste them all into excel!
My friend just called and said he got the BB Touch, i told him i just learned how to import all the contacts through excel, but i was wondering if it worked with the Touch as I have the 8330??

Ill be checking back.

Jul 8, 2009 - 10:07:59

The Excel technique works equally well with all models of BlackBerry–no difference. Glad the article helped.

Shamil says:
Jul 10, 2009 - 11:07:34

Hi Kelly
I too have leading zeros in my phone numbers (UK based) and I tried prefixing them with a single quote, but when I save my file to CSV format, it deletes the leading zero and changes the number to scientific format. Even triied changing the phone column in Excel to Text format, general number format AND lengthened column to much wider than the digits. Any thoughts how I can preserve my numbers. I have 480 contacts, some with 2 or more phone numners so even entering sing quote is a pain. Any help will be much appreciated.

BTW, Just to echo the many others here – you’re giving a superb service to others. Thank you.

Jul 10, 2009 - 03:07:49

You’re not really losing the leading zero in the CSV file. Rather, you’re losing it when you re-open the CSV file in Excel. So, the CSV file is OK. But if you reopen it in Excel to do some editing, you’ll have to reformat all those phone numbers with their leading zeros and single-quote prefix. An Excel macro could be written to automate that process. I’ve emailed you directly with a more lengthy explanation.

And thanks for the kind words. That means a lot to me, as serving newBBie readers requires a lot of my time, and the advertising/sales do not cover all the costs of running the site (mostly the expense of owning several BlackBerrys (and wireless plans)–which I do only in support of this site and its readers). It has become a kind of “labor of love,” you might say. So, thanks!

P.S.–And I love my UK and other international (non-US) readers. It’s so cool to “meet” all of you on this site.

Jul 10, 2009 - 04:07:31

It looks as tho you’ve been helping lost souls with their BB challenges and import / export for years. The info above is all priceless, but just hasn’t quite solved my problem.

I have one user that has gotten himself into having 3 contact lists, none of which are able to sync.

When you go into Contacts / Options, you see 3 Contact Lists:
Desktop (2483 entries)
Desktop (14 entries)
Unknown (2448 entries)

When you pick any of the 3, “Not Available” is what shows for Wireless Synchronization.

When you go into Default Services, only 1 option shows up, “Desktop”.

When I do a Import / Export via the above steps to get this to a CSV file, the only records that come across are the 14 entries in the “Desktop” List.

If I do backup, it will back up all 3 Lists. But then if I clear out the phone, enterprise activate the phone, and resore the entries, they put back the 3 annoying lists.

I want to just somehow get these contacts off here so we can wipe it, send the contacts into Excel or back into Outlook, and clean up this mess, but I cannot find any way to get these Contacts off the device. Any ideas?

Thank you!

Jul 10, 2009 - 05:07:53

I don’t have experience with Multiple Contact Lists but here are my thoughts on what I might try: The Desktop list with only 14 entries must be a “mistake.” Since you have been able to export those to a CSV file to preserve them, I’d try to delete that entire list. If you can delete it, I’d then do a backup so a subsequent restore won’t recreate that bogus list.

Next, I’d see if that has improved or resolved the original problem. I’m guessing not. Next, I would assume the Unknown list is bogus and try to delete it (if you can manage to export it just in case, PLEASE do that).

Since I don’t have a phone with multiple contact lists, I’m not sure how you delete a list. I’m guessing the phone itself won’t let you do that. I’d try Desktop Manager’s Backup and Restore (Advanced). At least you should be able to “clear” those lists (in Device Databases) if not delete them.

I’m really curious to learn more about multiple contact lists, so please return to let me know if my suggestions make sense, and what happens.

Mark says:
Jul 17, 2009 - 06:07:52


Firstly, excellent site! This is my first Blackberry and I love the sence of community that exists around the brand.

Secondly I am having the same problems as Shamil (10th of July), can you help me too? Do you know if he got his problem resolved as mine is exactly the same.

Jul 17, 2009 - 09:07:36

Welcome to the BlackBerry world. It’s true there is a devoted following.

I continued my conversation with Shamil via direct email (there was a reason, but unfortunately that didn’t make my answer public on the site). Part of the problem you’re having isn’t really happening! If you open the CSV file with a text editor (NotePad, WordPad), you’ll see the leading zero is still there. It’s only when you re-open the CSV file in Excel does the number get re-formatted and loses the leading zero.

So, once you’ve edited the spreadsheet to get it just right, then export it to a CSV file, all is well. It’s only when you re-open the CSV file to do some more editing that you get into trouble. Why does this happen? Well, when you save a spreadsheet to a text format (like CSV), the file loses all its formatting information. So, the trick with the single-quote gets “un-done.”

The way to avoid this problem is to save the Excel file in its normal format (.xls or .xlsx depending on your version of Excel) as well as in the CSV format. Re-open the XLS file to do additional editing. Only use the CSV file for importing an Address Book into a BlackBerry.

If that’s not clear, let me know where you’re confused and I’ll try to explain better.

Chandresh Shah says:
Jul 24, 2009 - 04:07:34


Thanks you for sharing nice details, however i am having perl 8100 and not getting birthday filed on the mobile, this field do exists on the desktop manager, is there any way i can get any cod file, which will help me in getting birthday & anniversary filed on the perl hendheld.

Thanks for reading, waiting for reply.


Jul 24, 2009 - 02:07:27

The problem is probably how you have the birthdays and anniversaries formatted. I don’t remember the format, but you can determine it yourself. Use your phone to enter a date for one of your contacts. Export it to a CSV file. Load that file into Excel. Examine the format. Use that format to enter dates in Excel. If you read above, you will know that sometimes you have to prefix an entry with the single-quote character (’) to tell Excel to not change the format. If you continue to have trouble, let me know and I’ll help more.

Jul 30, 2009 - 07:07:23


I’ve changed phones often enough that I’m in the habit of saving all my contact info in a CSV file. You saved me considerable time in figuring out how to import my data to my latest phone.

Tyler W. Cox

Aug 3, 2009 - 04:08:31

Ty, thanks for the feedback. Kelly

Kip says:
Aug 16, 2009 - 08:08:59

Thanks Kelly- you made it so simple!

Aug 17, 2009 - 08:08:42

Thanks for the feedback.

Sean Brown says:
Aug 20, 2009 - 06:08:33


Thank you very much for your help with this. The export instructions were great, and I just finished editing over 2,000 contacts. Here’s my problem, I keep detailed notes on contacts in the “notes” field, and these notes include a lot of commas. When I try to reimport the contacts into my blackberry, 12,000 extra contacts are created many of which are jumbles, I think being caused by the commas in my notes. Is there any solution for how to fix this?

Thanks very much in advance!


Aug 21, 2009 - 10:08:20

In a comma-separated value (CSV) file, the way you “hide” commas that you don’t want to be separators is to enclose the text containing them in double-quotes, like this: item1, item2, “item 3 that contains this, that, and the other”, item 4. You would need to put your notes in double-quotes.

However, for you the better solution would be to change the separator character from a comma to something else like a semicolon or tab. Excel will handle that just as well as using commas. In Desktop Manager, when setting up for ASCII Import/Export, find the Options button that lets you change the separator character. Choose the character less likely to be found in your notes or other fields. My guess is the tab won’t show up anywhere.

Let me know how this works or if you have a problem. It should work.

Sean Brown says:
Aug 24, 2009 - 11:08:26

Many thanks Kelly! I have a related question – many of my notes also include extra double quotes e.g. X baby sam, born 3/3/99 29″ and 8′10″ – could you explain the difference between the two field identification selections you mention in your original how-to above – what’s the difference b/w field settings and beginning and end of field values? (instructions from above are immediately below this message).

Thanks again!

Select Comma and Double quotation marks, if they’re not already selected. (This causes the creation of a so-called Comma-Separated-Value, or CSV, file. This is an extremely popular and useful text file format. It’s easy to read and imports beautifully into Excel as well as a vast number of other programs.) Click OK to close that window and return to the previous window.

Norman Graef says:
Aug 25, 2009 - 02:08:30

G’day Kelly,
I’m an Aussie living in Shanghai, and would like to give you a big ‘Thank You’ for sharing this information – it has saved me a lot of time, eyesight and temper fits!!
Your instructions are excellent, and do not assume that the reader is a paid up member of the wizz kid club, like so many other “help” sites tend to.

Aug 27, 2009 - 07:08:53

I’ve never met an Australian I didn’t like, and I’ve known a lot. So, I’m glad to have you as a member here. And I really appreciate the kind words, especially since you “got it” about how I try to write for my readers.

Aug 27, 2009 - 07:08:13

I sent you a private email and you responded that you just took out the double-quotes. I had recommended that you replace the ” character with the abbreviation for inches, since that is how you were using it. There’s no great solution that I know of to your situation.

JORGE says:
Sep 2, 2009 - 04:09:29

This is the best trick ever…!!! Thanks a lot… I could finally upload all my contacts to my BB.. One last thing. Is it ok if I change the order of the columns, text font, size, etc..? It would be great to have a proper contact list that could synchronise at the same time.

Thanks again!

Sep 3, 2009 - 11:09:52

You probably want to save your contacts in two forms: XLS and CSV. The XLS file format will retain font, size, colors, etc.–all formatting. The CSV loses all the formatting and only retains the field (column) names and the data in each field (column). The CSV is what you need to sync to/from your BlackBerry. The XLS might be needed in special cases where retaining the formatting is needed. Example: some phone numbers need to be prefixed by a + character, or a 0 (zero). If you load a CSV file back into Excel, those prefixes get “lost.” This information might not be relevant to you but it has come up in many discussions I’ve had with other readers.

Changing the order of columns probably won’t cause a problem, but I’ve never tested that. But do NOT change the name of any column or it will not import into your phone. Changing font, size, etc. won’t matter, as that formatting is lost when you save to a CSV file; that formatting is not carried into the phone, so is not needed.

Hope that answers your questions.

Kelley says:
Sep 18, 2009 - 03:09:16

Thank you!! This saved me so much time!! My friend decided to get an iphone and I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a smartphone and the 8310 is awesome! She didn’t have the book though, so I’ve been figuring it all out online. Definitely be reading through your other posts.
Thanks again!!

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