Mac OS X Tips

Whether you want to share a contact card with someone or backup all your Mac contacts to your computer, there is an easy way to go at it. It’s actually much easier to do that on your Mac than it is on your iPhone, as you’ll be able to tell.

In this post, we will show you various ways to not only share a contact card with someone, but we’ll also learn how to export your contacts directly to your Mac, so you can use them as a backup or simply to share them with someone…

How to share a Mac contact with someone

This is the quick and easy way to share a contact card with someone. Note the following option is only available to share one contact at a time. If you wish to share multiple contacts at a time, scroll down below.

1) On your Mac, launch the Contacts app. Click on the name of the contact you want to share to select it. Once selected, the name will be highlighted in blue, as you can see on the screenshot below.

Select a Mac contact to share

2) Click on the Share icon located at the lower right corner of the contact card you want to share (see the red border on the image above). This will bring up several sharing options.

Contact sharing options Mac

3) You now have several options to share the contact details. You can either share the contact via email, iMessage, or AirDrop. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will only share via email, so click the “Email Card” option. This will open your Mac’s Mail application, and the contact card will be automatically attached to the a new email.

Email Mac contact

4) Type in a recipient’s email address, add text to your email if you want to, then click Send. The person receiving this email will be able to save the contact card to their computer. Alternatively, they will be able to easily add this contact to Gmail, or to their Mac or iPhone contacts.

How to export one contact

The method described above is great for sharing a contact, but what if you want to export this contact to back it up to your computer for example? This is what we’re going to see now.

1) On your Mac, go to the Contacts app and click on the contact you want to export in order to select it. Once selected, the contact will be highlighted in blue, as you can see on the following screenshot.

Export a mac contact

2) In the Menu bar at the top of your screen, go to File > Export > Export vCard…

Export Mac vCard

3) This will open up a dialogue box where you will be able to choose where you want to save the contact card. Change the location if needed, and click Save.

Save a vcf card on Mac

4) Once the contact card has been saved to your computer, you’re free to do whatever you want with it. You may for example, save it for later as some sort of backup. You may also share it with anyone you want by email.

How to export multiple contacts

Now that we’ve seen how to export one contact at a time, we’re going to take it a notch further by learning how to export several contacts at once. The process is similar to the one described above.

1) Launch the Contacts application on your Mac.

2) Press and hold the Command key on your keyboard while selecting multiple contacts. Selected contacts will be highlighted in blue. In this example, we selected two contacts, but you’re free to select as many as you want.

select multiple mac contacts to export

3) In the upper left corner of your screen, click on File > Export > Export vCard…

Export Mac vCard

4) A dialogue box will appear prompting you to choose a location where to save the exported contacts on your computer. Click Save to save the file. Note that the several contacts you have exported will all be under one single .vcf file.

several contacts to export on Mac

5) You may now do whatever you see fit with this file. You can share it with someone or keep it on your computer as a backup.

How to export all contacts to a .vcf file

There are two ways to export all your contacts at once on a Mac. There is the Apple-compatible-only way, and there is the universal way. The universal way will allow you to export all your contacts to a .vcf file, which will then be readable by virtually any operating system or mail client in the world. If your goal is to export all your contacts and maybe share them in the future with someone else who might not own a Mac, this is the way you want to go. Or else, skip to the next section.

1) Launch the Contacts app of your Mac. If you have several contact groups, make sure to click on “All Contacts” in the upper left corner of the app.

All Contacts tab on Mac

2) Click on any contact in your list of contact to select it. It doesn’t matter what contact you select so don’t worry about that. Once you have selected once contact, press the Command + A keys simultaneously on your keyboard. This will select all your contacts. They should all be highlighted in blue.

Select all Mac contacts

3) In the Contacts app menu, go to File > Export > Export vCard…

Export Mac vCard

4) A dialogue box will pop up asking you to save your exported contacts. You may save it anywhere on your computer. Note that the contacts will be exported to a .vcf file, which again, is a standard format recognized by all computers and email clients.

Export all Mac vcf contacts

5) You can now keep this file as a backup on your computer, or you could for example import it into Gmail or any other email client.

How to export all contacts to a .abbu file

The .abbu file format is a proprietary format that is only recognized by a Mac’s Contacts application. This means that you should only export your contacts to a .abbu file if you are 100% positive that you won’t need to import these contacts at a later date on a different operating system. In the same way, you won’t be able to import a .abbu file to any email client (ie. Gmail wouldn’t let you import this format). This limitation makes it hard for me to recommend this file format as an export option, and I do prefer exporting as a .vcf file, as described above. But I’m not here to judge, I’m just here to show you how to export and backup your contacts.

1) Go to the Contacts app on your Mac.

2) In the Menu bar of the Contacts application, go to File > Export > Contacts Archive…

Mac Export abbu contacts

3) You will now have the option to save the .abbu file of your exported contacts anywhere on your Mac. Click Save, and you’re done.

Export contacts abbu on Mac

Additional tips you might find handy

  • J. Rockwell

    My question is what is the easiest way to delete duplicates? Iphone 5s, Mac Pro… I do it on the phone they seem to sync and still show up. I delete them in contacts on the Mac they still show up.

  • Thanks for this tutorial Sebastien. You and Jeff should really consider releasing an e-book.

  • I Think your Contacts is FAKE ‼️@Sébastien Page

  • Tim

    I want to export all contacts to separate vcf files. Is this possible? I can’t seem to find a way to do it other than individually exporting each one.

  • Lemastre

    I exported my contacts as a .vcf file, but none of the “notes” made the trip. On many of the cards, the notes were the only important info.

  • Iris

    i use Cisdem ContactsMate, which allows goup,edit,sync,etc,the most attractive feature :it can convert my contacts to various formats as i like,such as excel CSV and so on ,it works better i think.