Restore or Import a Backup Copy of Your Mac OS X Mail Address Book

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It’s simple to restore or import your Mac OS X Contacts or Mail Address Book from a backup copy. If you store and sync your Contacts with iCloud, there may be fewer reasons to export and save a backup for your personal devices. If, on the other hand, you want to share your entire Address Book or Contacts with a computer that is not connected to your iCloud account, you may prefer to import a backup.

Restore or Import a Backup Copy of Your Mac OS X Mail Address Book

If you have a backup copy stored in a secure location, restoring from that copy is straightforward. When exporting your Contacts or Address Book, you have a few options. You can export the entire archive in.abbu format or export individual, multiple, or all contacts as a vCard file.

To import or restore Mac OS X Mail contacts from an exported archive, follow the steps below.

  • Access to the Address Book.
  • Highlight all newly created contacts that you wish to keep in your address book.
  • For example, drag and drop the highlighted contacts to your Desktop or Downloads stack.
  • From the menu, choose File > Import…
  • Locate and highlight the desired copy of the address book/contacts archive (an .abbu file or vCard file).
  • Click the Open button.
  • At this point, click Replace All.
  • If you’ve previously dragged contacts to your Desktop or Downloads stack, for example:

Reintroduce these contacts to Address Book by dragging and dropping them.

  • Select Add.

Using Exported Contacts Data to Replace Contacts – Mac OS X

If you are running Mac OS X El Capitan, Address Book does not have the same functionality. Rather than that, you have Contacts, which you can export as an archived copy (.abbu file) or as vCard files.

If you’re switching computers and don’t want to use iCloud, open Contacts and select File/Export to export in either format. Then, using a thumb drive, emailing and saving the file, or another method, you can transfer it to your new computer.

You can import an archived.abbu file into Contacts by locating and opening it, or by using the File/Import command. However, be certain that this is what you want to do, as this action will completely replace your Contacts data and cannot be reversed. Fortunately, it warns you prior to performing that action.

If you exported Contacts as vCards, you can import them using the File/Import command. If they are duplicates, you will receive an alert and can choose whether to import them or not.

By importing them as vCards, you can review each duplicate and decide whether to retain the original, retain the new, retain both, or update. This is also a convenient feature because you can choose to Apply to All after reviewing one or more.

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