Export Outlook Contacts to SharePointIn addition to email, another oft-used feature of Outlook is storing contacts.  You can access them from your mobile device, the web, etc.  But what if you wanted to make those contacts available to be viewed by other coworkers?  For example, you’re a member of a sales team, and you need the ability for your sales peers and managers on your team to be able to see your contacts (and you see their contacts as well).  Let’s also assume that you’re not using a xRM system to track these contacts like Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce.com, but instead you want to use SharePoint.  How can we use SharePoint to store and share our contacts?  Easy!

This simple endeavor does not require any add-ons or custom functionality or code.  SharePoint can provide this functionality in 2 main parts:

  • Using one or more SharePoint “Contact” lists to store the contacts records (SharePoint calls them items)
  • Sync those lists from SharePoint to Outlook so the user can manage the SharePoint-based contacts from Outlook

The great news is that you don't have to open the SharePoint interface just to add or update a contact. To complete this procedure, the first part requires a power user / site owner or some user with at least design privilege (preferably full control to set permissions as needed).

This will be done in 3 steps:

  1. Setting up SharePoint - Create the SharePoint list(s)
  2. Sync the list(s) to Outlook
  3. Export the contacts from Outlook to SharePoint

Setting Up SharePoint

Since SharePoint is the repository we want to use to primarily store our contacts, we need to create a list or lists to store them.  First thing we need to do is determine how many lists we will need, and that will depend on our requirement.  Hopefully before you configure anything in SharePoint, you have a need or requirement.  In this case, the business came to you and said “we need to store out contact lists from our sales team in SharePoint”.  Ok no problem.  The main driver here is who can see the contact records. 

One Library or Many?

Let’s say that the business tells you that in SharePoint, the contact lists need to be restricted.  Each user can only see their own contacts, but there will be a group of other managers who can see everyone’s contacts.  If that is the case, you will need a contact list in SharePoint PER sales person.  That is because if this was one list with contacts from all sales members, when sync’d down to Outlook you can’t control with permissions and all items would be populated even though we can in the SharePoint UI.  That may be fine, and in that case you can create one list, and create a column for “salesperson” as a person/group column, and go to town.  In our case, we needed the former with permission restrictions.  

Configuration

  1. Decide on the site to store the lists (create one if one does not exist or if you’re not using an existing site)
  2. Go to that site, and create as many contact list as you need (one or many)
    1. For SharePoint 2010, either click Site Actions –> More Options and choose a Contact list, or go to All Site Content –> Create –> and choose a Contacts list.
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    2. For SharePoint 2013, either click the gear in the top right –> Add an app, or click Site Contents –> add an app –> Contacts.
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Done!  At this point, set permissions as needed per your requirements.  For our quick little demo we’ll everything as default.  Now let’s sync the list to Outlook.

Sync the SharePoint Contact List to Outlook

This is identical between SharePoint 2010 and 2013.  Steps 2-3 might vary slightly depending on your version of Office.

  1. Go to the list, and click the List ribbon tab, then choose Connect to Outlook. 
    SharePoint 2010 Connect to Outlook

    SharePoint 2013 Connect to Outlook
  2. Click Allow on the next dialog popup.
  3. Click Yes on the Allow connect to Outlook prompt.

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The sync’d list(s) will show in Outlook like this, in Other Contacts.  The name will show the name of the subsite – the name of the contacts list.  Repeat this for as many contact lists as you have.

Export the Contacts from Outlook to SharePoint

Now that we have everything wired, all we have to do is move the contacts from local Outlook to the new and shiny SharePoint contacts list.  Luckily the users should be able to do this for themselves.  All is needed is to drag and drop the contacts from one list to the other from within Outlook. 

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Once that is done, we click on the SharePoint contacts list and we see our contacts:

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And they show up in the browser after a refresh as well:

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Now the users can delete their contacts listed in Outlook, and they only exist in SharePoint, but still can be managed by Outlook.  Remember this is a 2-way sync, meaning that any changes in SharePoint will show in Outlook, and any changes made in Outlook will show in the SharePoint interface. 

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