As part of a migration from Gmail or other legacy email services, you’ll want to connect to or manually import your current contacts list so you can access those contacts directly from Outlook.com. Fortunately, Microsoft’s new webmail solution has a nice tool in its People interface for exactly this purpose.
To find People, mouse to the right of the Outlook logo in the top left of the Outlook.com web interface. A drop-down arrow will appear, providing access to Outlook.com’s various components, including Mail, People, Calendar, and SkyDrive.
Click People to display the People interface. If this is a new Outlook.com account, you’ll see the display here, providing you with links to add contacts from other popular services.
(If you are using Outlook.com with a previous Hotmail account, however, you’ll see your normal contacts list and this menu of importers may not be available. If that’s the case, select Manage and then Add People to display this menu.)
You can add contacts from other services in two ways: Via a connection or a manual import. For Facebook, Gmail (Google contacts), and LinkedIn, you can connect your Outlook.com account to the contacts at these other services. This lets you see and manage those contacts from Outlook.com as well, and if you’re familiar with the ways in which you could (and still can) connect other online services to a Windows Live account (now a Microsoft account), this works in the same way. (In other words, changes you make to these contacts in Outlook.com will be reflected in the original service as well.)
Since so many people will be migrating from Gmail, I’ll look at that option here. When you click the Google contacts item, you’ll see a pop-up window explaining the connection.
Click Connect and Outlook.com will connect to Gmail and present a Google-based access request.
Click Allow access to make the connection. After a short wait, you’ll see a success message.
Click Done and you’ll return to the People view, where your Gmail contacts are now (or soon will be) available. Also, the Google contacts item has been removed from the “Add people to your contact list” menu, and a small “Connected to” item is available in the top right of the People view, indicating your contacts are now connected to Google.
If you’d like to later sever the connection, simply click that little Google icon next to the Connected to text in the top right of the People view. When you do, you navigate to the connection screen, which currently uses the old Windows Live styling, from which you can click “Remove this connection completely.”
If you’d like to import contacts from a less sophisticated source, you can use the Import from File Option from the “Add people to your contact list” menu in the People view. This option lets you import contacts from Microsoft Outlook or from a CSV (comma separated values) file, which is a common export choice from other email services.
So if you’re moving from Yahoo! Mail to Outlook.com, for example, you could export your Yahoo! contacts to a CSV file (Actions, Export All from Yahoo! Mail Contacts, then choose Microsoft Outlook) and then import that into Outlook.com using the Microsoft Outlook (using CSV) option.
Importing is generally quite quick.
You’ll want to examine your contacts list, of course, and it’s not a bad idea to avail yourself of the “look for duplicate contacts” option. If you ignore that, however, you can use the Clean Up Contacts option in the Mange menu in People.