How to import multiple vcf files into Outlook Express 6.0


We have a customer with a corrupt Outlook Express address book and purchased software to repair the address book.  So far so good.  Now we have approximately 13000 vcf files.  Is there any way to quickly import these cards into Outlook Express instead of selecting a single card at a time?

All replies appreciated.


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Are they all in the same directory?
Here is a couple of good ideas and may save you a ton of manual labour..
Of course they want a small, anything that is going to save time lol.

Outlook already allows you to convert your contacts into vCard format (vcs file). However, you can only convert one contact at a time. Plus, Outlook can only read the first entry of a vcard file no matter how many contacts are contained in that file.  

Now however, you easily convert all your contacts to vCard format with one click of your mouse with the VCard Converter Add-In. It allows you to export all your contacts within a folder, or you can choose to export just the ones you select. In addition, you can import multiple contacts from a single vcf file. 20 dollars

Pearl, 10 dollars. Or there about.
Good luck with this. You'll  Probably get some more suggetsions.
ChiarneAuthor Commented:
Hi Merete,

Thanks for replying and for the links.  I am looking for a solution that works with Outlook Express, from what I have read both these links are for MS Outlook, not OE.


Chiarne maybe you can import them in  the Address Book. Go to file import>click on address book then I guess navigate to the directory where you have all 13000 vcf files, I am nor sure about this. But please give it a go. Look forward to knowing if it works.
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ChiarneAuthor Commented:
Hi Merete,

You can import them via the Address Book, but the only way is to do them one at a time and since there are about 13,000 vcf files, this would not be the preferred method.  It would work but could take weeks to finish. :))


lol ok I donot a have a full understanding how you are storing these 13000 vcf files. Where are they all.
And also you are asking to import them is this a server what windows version.

If they are like anything I do with Outlook express, i create a folder and name it emails put all my old emails off a cd  ( in your case 13000 vcf files)  using the edit copy edit paste into this folder, ok now my new folder is full on the new desktop ready for outlook express.... if it possible for you to either burn these onto a dvd/cd  as data, then take them to this computer server or whatever it is, and copy paste them into Windows Address Book/
usually found at C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\wab.exe
once you've imported your addresses into WAB you can just use Outlook's Outlook Express import functions.

This is what I am kinda talking about.
The Windows Address Book is actually a separate program that is used by OE, usually found at C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\wab.exe. Few users discover that this program can be used outside of Outlook Express. Since the path to wab.exe is stored in the default Windows path, you can usually start WAB by clicking Start| Run and typing wab to open the default OE WAB. But by adding the /? command line switch, you can see that WAB has possibilities beyond just the OE Address Book, namely standalone WABs that function outside of OE.


ChiarneAuthor Commented:
Hi Merete,

We have tried importing the vcf files into the OE address book.  The method was a little unusual, namely opening the WAB and opening the folder with the 13000 vcf files, then selecting the whole 13000 files and pasting them into the WAB.  A pop-up box appeared asking confirmation to import each single email address, but we side-stepped this by placing the mouse cursor over the 'OK' key and weighing down the 'Enter' key.

This worked beautifully for a few hours until the pc stopped importing after about 8000-9000 addresses. After opening OE to see if this was successful, the following error occurred when opening the address book:

"Unable to open the Address Book.  The Address Book may not be installed properly."

After the initial corruption of the address book we are unable to create or reply to emails.  The only way to fix this is to create a new user profile.

When creating a new email in the corrupted profile the following error displays:

"There was an error opening this message.  An error has occurred".

Have also tried copying the WAB to another pc, same error displays.  

The OS is Windows XP Pro, SP2, running latest updates, stand alone pc.

One question would be can OE handle 13000 email addresses or is there a limit?


Many thanks

Hi Chaine suggestions lol I am offering suggestions. Please reconsider your steps before doing them, I hope you have a backup.
You may have to boot safemode and delete that folder. How big are we talking about? As in megs gig?
Once again I ask where did you salvage these .vcf files from/ was it a server, and how were they stored previosly, ok a funny thought  are you part of some spammers. Why else this large amount of addresses.
Did you move them to a temporary folder on that computer desktop first ??
Is this computer part of a domain or server?

As far as I know ( only my opinion) no there is no limit but common sense must prevail, anytime a folder has an exceptionally large size it would take considerable resources to open it.
On a server these are stored in a specail location.
You know I wondered and  had hoped that maybe you would know better than to try to move the entire lot in one go. That is the purpose of moving them all to a temp folder first. Personally I have never seen anyone attempt to move this amount of email addresses in one go.
How come you have so many?

I think the way to go is to keep these tempoary folders outisde of outlook express on the hdd.. Create at least 10 folders. name them as as a 2nd 3rd 4th 5th wab. and then direct outlook express to it rather the other way round.

I'll have to use links ok maybe these can help you.
Inside Outlook Express

Multiple WABs
Not only can you open multiple instances of a single WAB, you can also open any number of standalone WABs. This can be especially useful for those who have enabled Windows User Profiles. Since each Profile has its own WAB, which is used by all Identities within that Profile, there can be no Shared Contacts amongst the Profiles. A standalone WAB can be stored in a common folder and thus can be used by all Identities under all User Profiles. A stand-alone might also be placed on a network drive so that all users could access the company Address Book (or several) while still maintaining a private WAB (or several). It is recommended that all contacts in a standalone WAB be placed in the Shared Contacts folder or its sub folders, and that users be instructed to click View| Folders and Groups when they use a WAB.
Here the entire brief please read it carefully.

How to move the address book?

Close OE and the Address Book. Copy your current WAB to its new location. Open Regedit
at start run type in > regedit press enter:
and navigate to this key:

|-----------------Wab File Name

Right-click the Default value in the right-hand pane and click Modify. Carefully type the path to the new location and the file name (<name>.WAB).
 move the store folder?

Create a new folder in Windows Explorer where you want OE to store your files. Open OE and click Tools| Options| Maintenance| Store folder, then click the Change button. Browse to the new folder and click OK. Close the dialogue, then close OE. When you re-open OE, it will automatically move the store to its new location

Your comment>
The only way to fix this is to create a new user profile. Did this work? Do you have a normal functions of outlook express?

 Is it possible for you to do a system restore.

the system file checker should repair outlook express.
To run the system file checker, press Start, Run, and then type in SFC /scannow  press enter
it will probably ask you for the xpcd.


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ChiarneAuthor Commented:
Hi Merete,

Sorry to take so long to respond, our internet access was down due to a faulty switch and then the weekend was upon us.

Firstly this is not our pc but a client's.  He runs a legitimate online business and no, he is not a spammer (lol) though I can understand why you might think so.

When the pc first arrived, the Outlook Express address book was corrupt, the message displayed was:

"Unable to open the Address Book.  The Address Book may not be installed properly."

When creating a new email the following error displayed:

"There was an error opening this message.  An error has occurred".

These 13,000 email addresses were our client's mailing list and he asked us if we were able to recover the list and get OE up and running again.  

We then purchased a software package to repair the Outlook Express address book, namely, Address Book Recovery (a
Windows Address Book repair tool,  

The contacts were then restored and exported/saved in the Business Card (vCard) format (this was the only option available) and saved to a single folder.  This folder was copied to the pc. This then led to my initial question on how to quickly import these vcf files into Outlook Express.

After approx 7,000 vcf files were imported to Outlook Express, the windows address book was corrupt again and we were back to square 1, same error messages, as follows:

"Unable to open the Address Book.  The Address Book may not be installed properly."
Creating a new email resulted in the following error: "There was an error opening this message.  An error has occurred".

The only method to repair Outlook Express was to create a new profile.

I am now wondering even if these email addresses are successfully imported into OE, would the Address Book corrupt again in the future.  Would the only answer here be to switch to MS Outlook?

Thanks for your persistence and help.


ChiarneAuthor Commented:
Merete, in answer to your previous question, the folder containing the 13,000 recovered vcf files is about 14MB in size.


thank you Chiarne, yes of course I understand now. I for one am a member of many sites such as Teck republic or zdnet and they would probably store a few 1000 addresses. Apologies.
As time is the issue here for you to get this done.
I have not worked on this kind of problem before so respect your kind consideration.
I do believe we are on the right track just missing some small step.

There is no way to really know if these recovered addresses are ok?
I personally don't know if there is that much difference storing addresses using outlook express or outlook.

I do think the way to go is to create several store folders and assign outlook express to them.
Firstly  lets make sure Outlook Express is repaired and functioning.
Running the scan for corrupt files is the usual proceedure.
The error message>OLEXP: Error Message: Address Book Failed to Load
The Windows Address Book file used by Outlook Express is marked with the read-only attribute.
You must find the Windows Address Book file used by Outlook Express and remove the read-only attribute from its properties.
Click Start, point to Find, and then click Files or Folders.
2. In the Named box, type:
3. Set the Look In box to include your local drives and click Find Now.

NOTE: If you find more than one .wab file, make the following changes for all files.
4. Click the .wab file that you find. On the File menu, click Properties.
5. In the Properties dialog box, under Attributes, clear the Read-only check box.
6. Click Apply, and then click OK.
7. Open Outlook Express and test a new e-mail message or try to access the Address Book.

Alternatively  to manually remove and reinstall Outlook Express
Differences between Outlook and Outlook Express
Moving Outlook Express Store Folder:
Lets try using this folder that you have the recovered addresses as a new store loaction instead. As a starting point put only a 1/3 in a folder within this master. give it a name to identify to Outlook Express.
Put it somewhere preferably on a separate local drive or partition. You cannot use this store folder to a network drive nor a removable drive.
  Open OE and click Tools| Options| Maintenance, then click the Store Folder button. Click the Change button and Browse to your temp  recovered .VCF folder.
Click OK to close each dialogue, and then close OE. When you open OE again it will automatically move the old store to the new location. Fingers crossed.

Warning! Do NOT attempt to copy the store manually to the new location. This will only confuse OE and result in warnings that will confuse you. The automated move function works as expected, and is quite safe.

16 useful plugins for Outlook for only $24.

Good Luck again. Cant wait to see if you have some success, small steps Chiarne  repair Outlook Express then try a reasonable sized  Store Folder.
ChiarneAuthor Commented:
Hi Merete,

No apologies necessary.  I told our customer he engages in spamming like activity when I discovered the size of his address book.  Luckily he has a sense of humour.

Anyway an update:

I've done as you suggested.  Firstly the original wab.exe file was not marked 'read only'.

I created 5 different folders, with each folder holding approximately 3,000 emai addresses.  The Outlook Express store folder was successfully changed, but isn't this store folder for emails, not email addresses?  


lol good to see a man with a sense of humour, or maybe it was the way you said it :)
aaa damn slap me awake.
My brain spins out occasionally,
 but I am thinking now,
of course it would be a lot easier to be sitting in front of your computer I would then know what the previous setup was.
 I know so far is that you have recovered a few thousand addresses from a corrupted Outlook Express?
The more I try to read thru your details the more it points to the original problem is maybe this client should not be using outlook Express for this many addresses, and I think you also proceeded with this task of importing the large amount of addresses because that is how it was to begin only to meet the same problem head on again .

I think what we are talking about here is a global address List.
The Global Address List, which contains the names and e-mail addresses of everyone in an organization or a considerable list. (This type of list requires you to use Microsoft Exchange Server.)

Now I feel back to square one, the differences between Outlook and Outlook Express depends largely if you are uisng a computer on a server.
This was the answer I so needed.
The spanner in the works:
As I still donot know if your client is a corperate organization/server or just a local firm? Networked???

I know you did ask me if you should be using Outlook but I cannot answer this as I donot know the setup of the client.
Decision Time only you can make Chiarne to Use Outlook or Outlook express, If your client is using Microsoft Exchange Server then Outlook is the one to choose.
Internet directory services (LDAPs) are used to find e-mail addresses that are not in a local address book or a corporate-wide directory such as the Global Address List. An Internet connection is required to view an LDAP address book unless the LDAP directory is part of your organization's network.
Third-party address books can be added to Outlook by using the third-party provider's Setup program. Outlook displays third-party address books in the Additional Address Book Types list.

 Differences between Outlook and Outlook Express

To import your Outlook Express address book:<< address book :)
On the File menu, click Import, and then click>> Other Address Book.<<
 Click Text File (Comma Separated Values), and then click Import.
Click Browse. Locate the Mail Backup folder on your desktop,
click the address book Backup.csv file, and then click Open.
Click Next, and then click Finish.
Click OK, and then click Close.
add a distribution list to the  addressbook?
Launch  Outlook Express.
Click the  “Address Book” button on the toolbar.
Click the New button on the toolbar and drag down to select ‘New Group’.
Fill in a name for the group.
Click the ‘Select Members’ button to select contact that are already in your Address Book.
You can also Add new contacts directly into the Group by completing the Name and e-mail fields.
Setting Up the Microsoft Exchange Server Service
This chapter steps you through setup of the Microsoft Exchange Server Service. By adding this service to Outlook

ChiarneAuthor Commented:
Hi Merete,

The client's pc is a stand alone computer, not attached to any network.  The OS is Windows XP Pro.  

The client is not an organisation, not even a small company, he's a one man band with 13000 email addresses :)) that he currently cannot use.

So MS Exchange is not on the menu.  


Chiarne wow. What can I say,
This should work.
To import your Outlook Express address book
On the File menu, click Import, and then click>> Other Address Book.<<
 Click Text File (Comma Separated Values), and then click Import.
Click Browse. Locate the Mail Backup folder on your desktop,
click the address book Backup.csv file, and then click Open.
Click Next, and then click Finish.
Click OK, and then click Close.

ChiarneAuthor Commented:
Hi Merete,

Now I'm confused...where do I find the backup.csv file.  The recovered address book files are in vcf format, not text.

Another discovery, when we tried copying the original wab.exe file to a spare Win2000 pc which did not have the latest windows updates, the address book opened successfully in Outlook Express ie no corruption took place.  

The suggestion was then made could one of the latest windows updates cause a large wab.exe file to corrupt.  Strangely interesting...



Hello Chiarne, lol we are all confused.
ok I donot use windows2000 so you have that advantage.
I am about to perform my yearly upgrade and clean install so wont be back until probably tomorrow.
As I was backing up my files I thought I would test out what you are trying to do. I have a large database of emails.
What I did was to create a new folder on my separate slaved hdd name it old emails.

Then I opened Outlook Express tools  options maintinence, store folder> open the store folder> then using the  change navigated to the new folder named old emails on my slave/
It exported all my current database over to this folder. Everything included.

BTW this folder of mine  is 576 MB lol surprised even me. so your 25?meg or what ever23 megs is nothing.
Now what I would suggest you try doing the same.
open your outlook express maintinence and export to the assigned folder of your choice.
Then add your addresses to this folder.
Then import them.

If it worked for windows 2000 I dont see there is that much a difference between these two.
Otherwise Just do it the same way as windows 2000. If it still doenst work I can only imagine.
Have you created an account/identity  on Outlook express? Other than the Main Identity.
You said you created a new profile?
I think we have exhausted all the options, maybe you could just go over everything again in your own time.
Repair Outlook express etc/
Good Luck with it. It should be so simple.
Regarsd Merete

ChiarneAuthor Commented:
Hi Merete,

Apologies for not replying sooner, the last few days have been hectic.

The customer has decided to change to MS Outlook.  The emails were successfully migrated from Outlook Express to MS Outlook on a pc running Windows 2000 SP4, no updates.

All is well.  Your patience and help is much appreciated.


Hey Chiarne  great to hear from you :)
Good choice you must have sighed with relief too. It was fun though, I hoped you enjoyed it too.
I am just very happy to hear all worked out.
Cheers friend
Regards Merete
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