Einar's blog
15 juni 2013

How to import Mac OS X Adress Book contacts in Thunderbird

I am migrating from Mac OS X Mail to Thunderbird (to make syncing between machines easier) and as part of that process I wanted to import my contacts from the Mac OS X Address book. It is possible to use contacts from the Mac OS X Address book without importing them, but since I am going to sync Thunderbird on my MacBook Pro with Thunderbird on my netbook running Ubuntu, I want to import the contacts.

On the help pages for switching from Mac OS X Mail to Thunderbird it is suggested that one could drag and drop contacts from the Mac OS X Address Book to the Personal Address book inside the Address book window in Thunderbird. But sadly, it doesn't work. The «Personal Address book» will not get highligheted if I drag contacts to it and if I release them over it anyway, nothing happens.

In stead, many forums on the net suggest selecting all contacts from the Mac OS X Address book, dragging them to the desktop, and thus creating a .vcf file of all your contacts. When importing this file into Thunderbird, I experienced that half of my contacts were not properly imported and had blank firstnames and surnames. It might be a text encoding problem, since all names starting with «Å» were blank after importing, but on the other hand, names starting with «Ø» were imported correctly, so maybe it is not about text encoding at all. Many contacts without any sepcial characters were blank as well. Anyway, this way of importing contacts doesn't work either.

I also tried «asking a question» on the Thunderbird support pages, but that process just stalled when I hit submit. I am using the newest Firefox, so I suppose the browser is not the issue…

Finally, after having searched for a long time on many forums online for help and ending up with lots of broken links to scripts that were supposed to solve the problem, I found VCF to CSV. It converts vCard files (.vcf files) to the LDIF CSV format that Thunderbird imports. I just had to open Mac OS X Address book, select all contacts, drag them to the desktop, rename the file to the name I wanted for my new address book in Thunderbird, open the tab with vcf2csv.com in Firefox, select «Choose file…», select the file I had just created, wait for the conversion to finish and then choose «import…» from the «Tools» menu in the Address book window of Thunderbird, select «Address book» and select the newly converted file. And all my contacts were finally correctly imported.

I find it very strange that Thunderbird does not correctly import Mac OS X Address book without the use of some third party tool. It is probably the most used Address book after Outlooks address book. Ideally, the drag and drop method suggested in the oficial Mozilla documentation for switchers should work, but even if that didn't work, the importing of vCards should work. Neither does in Thunderbird 17.0.6.

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