How To Import Gmail Contacts Into Thunderbird

Martin Brinkmann
May 2, 2010
Updated • Jun 26, 2017
Email, Thunderbird

One of the problems that users encounter when they work with different email clients is that the information between the clients is not synchronized automatically.

But automatic syncing might not always be ideal as it usually requires to run a software program or add-on to sync the data regularly.

The alternative is to manually import the data. This article describes a way to manually import Gmail Contact information into the Mozilla Thunderbird email client.

Thunderbird users who want to automatically sync Gmail contacts instead can follow the link instead.

Manual importing and exporting contacts is usually done with csv (comma separated values) files or vCard files.

Import Gmail Contacts Into Thunderbird

Open the Gmail website and click on the contacts link that appears when you click on the small down arrow next to Gmail in the top left corner.

This should open the Gmail Contacts window that lists all contacts and groups in the email client.

gmail contacts
Gmail Contacts  interface

Locate the Export link by clicking on the more button at the top and selecting it from the context menu that opens up.

You can now export all contacts or only specific groups of contacts which is handy if contacts have been sorted into custom groups.

Select Export as Outlook CSV which ensures the best compatibility for importing operations. You can alternatively select vCard format to import this into Thunderbird instead as the email client supports both formats and some users have suggested that vCard may work better.

I suggest you try one format, and see if that brought the desired results. If not, try the other format instead.

A click on the Export button in the menu opens a Save File dialog to save the contacts.csv or contacts.vcf file to the local computer system.

Now that we have the Gmail contacts information we need to import them into the Thunderbird email client. Open Thunderbird and click on Tools > Address Book or press Ctrl-Shift-B.

Locate the Tools menu again in the Address Book of Thunderbird and select the Import link there.

import contacts thunderbird

Make sure you select Address Books before continuing. Now select Text File (LDIF, .tab, .csv, .txt) from the next screen if you have exported the Gmail contacts to a csv text file, or vCard file if you have exported it as a vcf file.

import address book vcard

A file browser opens. Browse to the Gmail contacts file that you have exported earlier. You may need to change the filtering type in the file browser so that all files and not only LDIF files are shown.

The import address book window opens afterwards. You can use this window to check that the exported contact information match with the information in Thunderbird.

It is possible to go through all contacts and switch information if necessary. You should make sure that primary email and e-mail address as well as last name and name match in this window before you continue.

Here you can also disable fields that you don't want imported.

import address book

A click on the OK button imports the Gmail contact information into a new Thunderbird address book so that they become available in the email client from that moment on.

How To Import Gmail Contacts Into Thunderbird
Article Name
How To Import Gmail Contacts Into Thunderbird
The guide walks you through the steps of importing some or all Gmail contacts into the address book of the Thunderbird email client.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. JMGG said on January 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    You said that Outlook isn’t your main email client, so which is your main one?

    1. BalaC said on January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I think its thunderbird

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      It is Mozilla Thunderbird.

  2. Salaam said on September 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! This actually solved my problem… what a stupid bug.

  3. Claud said on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    If this is the same bug that I’ve encountered, there may be another fix: (1) hover over open Outlook item in Taskbar, cursor up to hover over Outlook window item, and right-click; (2) this should give you Restore / Move / Size / Minimize / Maximize — choose Move or Size; (3) use your cursor keys, going arbitrarily N/S/E/W, to try to move or size the Outlook window back into view. Basically, the app behaves as though it were open in a 0x0 window, or at a location that’s offscreen, and this will frequently work to resize and/or move the window. Don’t forget to close while resized/moved, so that Outlook remembers the size/position for next time.

    1. Lynda said on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      THANK YOU Claude!!! I could get the main window to launch but could not get any other message window to show on the desktop. You are my hero!!!!

    2. Chad said on November 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Solved my issue! 6 years later and this is still problem…

    3. Ivan X said on January 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Fantastic. Thank you. Size did the trick.

  4. Andrew said on October 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This solved my Outlook problem, too. Thank you. :)

  5. Charles said on December 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much, this started happening to me today and was causing big problems. You are a life saver, I hope I can help you in some way some day.

  6. garth said on November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You are a god – thank you!

  7. Faisal said on February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am

    thanks a lot…. work like charm.. :-)

  8. Simon said on March 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Yah…thanks Claude. I’ve been having the same problem and tried all the suggestions…your solution was the answer. It had resized itself to a 0/0 box. Cheers

  9. Olu said on April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post. This had me baffled even trying to accurately describe the problem. This fixed it for me.
    Thank you

  10. Coenig said on July 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks a lot for the article. Don’t know why it happenend, don’t know how it got fixed, but it was really annoying and now it works :-)

  11. Fali said on January 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was facing this issue from past 3 week. I tried everything but no resolution. The issue was happening intermittently and mainly when I was changing the display of screen ( as i use 2 monitors). The only option i had was to do system restore. But thanks to you.

    1. MIki said on January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been tried to sole this problem for 12hours. Your comment about changing the display of screen helped me a lot!! Thanks!!

  12. Christina said on January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you…don’t know why this happened but your instructions helped me fix it. Running Windows 10 and office pro 2007

  13. Oz said on July 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  14. Tracy said on September 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Worked for me, too – thank you!!!

  15. shawn said on September 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    It’s Worked for me, too
    thank you very much!

  16. Jari said on October 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I had a similar issue with Outlook 2013 on Windows 10 and this helped me to fix it. Thank you very much!

  17. Michel H said on November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much. Solved!
    Considering you published this in 2012, incredible not been debugged by Microsoft.
    Thank you again. M

  18. Ziad Bitar said on January 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This problem was faced by only one user logging to TS 2008 r2 using outlook 2010.The issue was resolved.


  19. Anonymous said on February 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great tip. Thank you!!!! If it helps, I had to use the Control Key and the arrow keys at the same time to bring my window back into view. Worked like a charm.

  20. Rochelle said on March 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, this worked !!!!

  21. anom1234 said on May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Man, you are a fucking god. Thanks a lot, what an annoying bug!!

  22. JC said on October 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome, this post solved the issue. Many thanks!

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.