When you export a personal distribution list from Outlook to Excel, the contacts information is not displayed.

Recently I monitored the behavior when working with DL’s and trying to export them into Excel. Let’s take into account the following scenario:


You are creating a personal distribution list in Outlook (no matter which version) and you add a few contacts in it. The contacts can be local or from the GAL and the number of entries is not important.

Then click on File – Import and Export  and export the DL to an Excel file. This works and you can store the file locally. However, when you open the Excel sheet you’ll notice that the contacts information is missing. You can, however see the column names (for ex. Name, E-Mail, Telephone number).


If you do the same operation, but for single or multiple contacts outside the DL, the information is visible in the Excel sheet. The explanation for this? Well, it’s simple.

The entries in the Contacts folder in Outlook are exportable and will take all the properties in the Excel file. However, the entries in a personal DL are not really contacts, but links to those contact entries. Simpler explained, when you export a DL, only the DL properties are being written in the Excel sheet and not the contacts. Therefore, no data regarding e-mails, tel. numbers or addresses will be displayed.


The same happens when you add multiple contacts from the Global Address List into a personal distribution list. The exported data will show no contact info.


Background for this is that the personal DL’s in Outlook where primarily designed for helping users send e-mails to multiple contacts at one time. A simple workaround to the issue presented is to select the desired contacts directly from the Contacts folder in Outlook and export them. This way, the data will be shown in the Excel sheet.

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