Numbers: Export Your Contacts in Different Formats

Sometimes we need to export our Mac contacts in formats other than vCards, and Apple hasn't made it obvious how you do that. If you've got Numbers installed, it's actually really easy to put them into Excel or CSV format. You don't believe me, you say? C'mon. Haven't we known each other long enough that you trust me, dear readers?

There are two simple ways to go about it. The first way's a little quicker, but your data may need some cleanup afterward, so I find it less useful. First, you'll open your Contacts program and add all of the people you'd like to export to a separate group.

Then start a new spreadsheet in Numbers. Since a new sheet comes with a blank table already supplied, remove that existing table by clicking on it in the sidebar and tapping the Delete key. This'll make things easier for you later.

Here's where the magic happens. Drag your Contacts group onto the Numbers window and drop it in the big white area to the right of your blank sheet.

Blammo! There are all those contacts, ready to be exported as an Excel or CSV file when you choose File > Export.

You may note that your table has some hidden columns (see how they're non-sequentially labeled in my screenshot above—B, C, J, S?). If you hover over any column and click its drop-down arrow, you can choose Unhide All Columns.

This'll show you that Numbers has brought in every tiny bit of data from your Contacts app, including such favorite fields as "Pager Number" and "Jabber Account." You could spend your time removing the extraneous columns from here if you're a really dedicated person, but now that you know the basics, here's the method I like better. Create your spreadsheet in Numbers first, and name the columns with only the fields you'd like Contacts to fill in for you.

Be careful of two things. First, you'll have to use the same field names as Contacts does (such as first name, last name, street, work email, and so on). Second, make sure you type your fields into a designated header row, which is usually called out in gray on a default table. If you just type ’em anywhere, this won't work.

After you've gotten it all set up, go ahead and drag your contact group onto your prepared table…

…and it'll get all filled in with only the data you specified.

Mind. Blown.

This is obviously pretty awesome, but I do wish Apple'd made it more apparent. I mean, how much would an "Export to CSV" command in the Contacts app really hurt them? Apparently a lot, since it's not there. Maybe it's against someone's religion or something.