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So, I've tried csv and tab delimited txt formats. I've tried to import vcf files, and no luck. Whatever I do, non latin1 characters are misinterpreted in Outlook.

I'm writing a PHP script that can generate anything, but Outlook keeps choking on utf-8 characters.

Did anyone manage to import utf-8 characters to outlook contacts?

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Ouch. VCF files actually work. – tishma Aug 25 '12 at 16:59
But do I really have to import 700 files (one for each contact) instead of a big one? – tishma Aug 25 '12 at 17:00
More fun. Drag and drop works from windows explorer to outlook contacts (outlook 2010), but files are just 'opened'. In order to keep them in contacts you need to click save&close. Just closing will do nothing at all. – tishma Aug 25 '12 at 17:09
Have you tried UTF-16LE yet? – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Aug 25 '12 at 17:17
nope. Are you serious? – tishma Aug 25 '12 at 17:19
up vote 0 down vote accepted

So, as of Office 2010, the short answer is - yes and no.

It is possible to import utf8 VCF files with the expected results, with the limitation that (only the first) one contact per VCF file is imported. To import multiple VCF files at once, one has to select them all in windows explorer and drag/drop into desired Outlook contacts folder. The items will be imported only when you click 'close and save' button on each of the imported contacts.

CSV file with any encoding appears to fail on non-latin1 characters, replacing each with 2 ugly single-byte characters.

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In the vCard, properties need to have CHARSET=utf-8 as a parameter for this to work. This works for Outlook 2007 and probably 2010, but Outlook 2003 won't work with utf8 at all from my experimentation. – Dan W Jun 3 '13 at 12:24

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