Free Outlook add-on simplifies data export

CodeTwo Outlook Export creates an Excel file containing only the information you specify from your mail, contact, calendar, and other data folders.

Operating Systems

Microsoft has done little to improve the import and export features in recent versions of Outlook. In fact, the program's Import and Export Wizard appears unchanged since at least Outlook 2003.

One change for the worse is that it takes several more clicks to reach the import/export function in Outlook 2010 than it does in earlier releases of the program. In older Outlook versions you simply clicked File > Import and Export to open the wizard, but in Outlook 2010, you must click File > Options > Advanced > Export.

You can save yourself a few clicks and get many more comma-separated value (CSV) export options by installing the free CodeTwo Outlook Export add-on. The company claims the program works with all versions of Outlook since 2001; I tested it in Outlook 2010 on a Windows 7 PC.

CodeTwo Outlook Export adds an Export button to the far right of the Home ribbon in Outlook 2010 and to the Standard toolbar in earlier Outlook versions.

CodeTwo Outlook Export button in Microsoft Outlook 2010
CodeTwo Outlook Export adds an Export icon to the Home ribbon in Outlook 2010 and an Export button to the Standard toolbar in Outlook 2007, 2003, and 2002. screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

Clicking the button opens the main CodeTwo Outlook Export window, where you can add, delete, and reorder the fields to be exported to the CSV file. Oddly, the default items for mail, calendar entries, contacts, and tasks include "Subject" and "Date Created." This makes sense for messages and perhaps for tasks and calendar entries, but not for contacts. However, it's easy to customize the exported fields via the buttons in the right pane of the window.

CodeTwo Outlook Export main window
Add, delete, and reorder the Outlook items to be exported to a CSV file via the buttons in the main CodeTwo Outlook Export window. screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

The Options button lets you change the field separator from the default (comma) to a semicolon or a bar, and the text qualifier from quotes to apostrophes.

CodeTwo Outlook Export Options dialog
Change the field separator and text qualifier in the CodeTwo Outlook Export add-on via the Options dialog. screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

Back in the program's main window, select the items you want to export, choose and reorder the fields to include in the export, and set the name and location of the resulting CSV file. Once the list is in order, click the Export button to complete the process. CodeTwo Outlook Export pops up a window showing the number of items exported and the name and location of the CSV file the program created.

CodeTwo Outlook Export confirmation message
CodeTwo Outlook Export confirms the number of items exported and the name and location of the CSV file containing the data. screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

The program worked flawlessly when I tested it, and the results of its exports were a tremendous improvement over Outlook's built-in export feature, especially for exporting contacts. In Outlook, you get no choice of which messages, tasks, calendar entries, and contacts to export. Nor can you choose which fields to include or the order in which the fields are shown in the resulting CSV file.

CodeTwo Outlook Export creates only CSV files; Outlook's own exporter can generate Microsoft Access and Excel files, as well as Outlook's own PST files. Since I usually export to CSV files anyway, this limitation doesn't affect me. And there's simply no way Outlook can match the export options offered by CodeTwo Outlook Export.

If you're looking to free your Outlook data from the confines of the the program's own export limitations, CodeTwo Outlook Export makes the process much easier and more flexible.

For information on saving your Outlook mail in the folder of your choice, see my post from February 2008. To learn more about customizing Outlook's archive settings, read this post from last January.

Finally, for instructions on synching your Outlook, Gmail, and iPhone contacts and calendar entries, see the post from July 2009.

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