How do I export contacts from a category?

To export contacts from WLMail for backup or for use in another application or service, switch to the Contacts window (press Ctrl-3 or click the address book icon at the foot of the folder pane), then click the Export button on the ribbon. You can choose to export comma-separated values or vCards (one .vcf file per contact).
The problem with export is that it’s all or nothing. You can’t select contacts to export, or export a single category. Here’s a way to do this on Windows 7.
  1. Reduce the size of the WLMail window so you can see an empty part of the desktop. Right-click in this empty space and select New > Folder. Call it VCF.
  2. Type or copy  %userprofile%   into the start search box and press Enter. This will open the folder containing the Windows Contacts folder. Windows Contacts is a legacy from Vista, usually only of value in W7 if you need to keep contacts synchronized with some other devices. Most people are unaware of this folder, and it’s usually empty (apart, perhaps, from a special Me contact reflecting your Windows user account).
  3. For safety’s sake, right-click on the Contacts folder in the navigation pane and select Copy. Now right-click on its containing folder (your Windows user name) and select Paste. You should see a new folder called Contacts – Copy.
  4. Click on the Contacts folder, click in the right-hand pane and press Ctrl-A to select All, then press the Delete (or DEL) key on your keyboard. You now have a nice empty Contacts folder.
  5. In the left-hand pane of WLMail’s Contacts window, select the category you want to export, click on a contact and press Ctrl-A.
  6. Left-click, hold and drag all the contacts across and drop them on to the VCF folder on your desktop. This will create VCF files for each contact in the category.
  7. Return to the Windows Contacts folder you emptied at (3) and click Import on the menu bar. Select vCard and click Import.
  8. Browse to the VCF folder on your desktop and select all its contents to import.Your Windows Contacts folder now contains .contact files for each member of your WLMail category, and you can now use Export on the menu bar to create a CSV file for this category. To create a CSV file for a different category, start again at (4). You should empty the VCF folder ready to accept the next batch.
  9. When the process is complete, you can delete the VCF folder on your desktop.
  10. To restore Windows Contacts to the state they were in before embarking on this process, delete the Contacts folder and rename the Contacts – Copy folder to Contacts.
Note that there are some shortcomings in the export processes.
  • Neither WLMail nor Windows Contacts will export more than one (the preferred or primary) email address per contact, even though the data are present in both the VCF file and the .contact file. WLMail will not export the business fax number, but Windows Contacts will.
  • It’s not a good idea to import or export the Name field. If the fields Nickname, First name, Middle name and Last name are populated, programs will usually be able to work out what Name should be, so using it in an import/export exercise might simply lead to confusion. A contact with no personal names – e.g. a company – will be shown in WLMail by the company name.
  • A VCF file will normally contain all the contact data, so this is a good format to use for sharing or transferring only a small number of contacts. Most mail clients will offer to add the contents of a VCF file to its contacts list.
  • If the CSV file will be taking a trip through a spreadsheet program like Excel, take the opportunity to add some category affiliation data to each contact. If for example you put a keyword or number into a field like Notes, you may be able to sort contacts by this field. You would then see all contacts with the same keyword/number grouped together.

More about categories here: What happened to contact groups?

This is a first draft. If you find a mistake in it or have suggestions for how it might be improved, please contact me.