Importing a Contact List CSV to the iPad


The Apple iPad can be useful for managing business and personal contacts. If you want to import contact details from a comma-separated value list, the process can be tricky. There is not a straightforward way to import a CSV list to the iPad. However, you can combine commonly used address book software and Apple iTunes to accomplish this task.

General Procedure

  • First import the CSV file into an address book application on a laptop or desktop computer. Both Mac and Windows address book programs are supported. Regardless of the chosen application, you must import the CSV list of contacts into the intermediary app before you load the list onto the iPad. After the contacts are loaded into a compatible application, you can use the iTunes software to synchronize the list with the iPad.

Compatible Software

  • Several different programs are compatible with the CSV import process, and any one of them can serve as the intermediary program. If you are a Windows user, you can use any recent version of Microsoft Outlook. Windows Address Book or Windows Contacts will also work. These programs are usually included as part of the Windows operating system. The import procedure is also compatible with Contacts, which is part of Mac OS X. This program is called Address Book on OS X versions older than 10.8.

iTunes Synchronization

  • After a CSV file has been imported into one of the compatible programs, you use iTunes to complete the synchronization. Connect the iPad to the computer and select the device from the list of iOS devices. View the contact sync options in the Info tab in iTunes. The description for this option is slightly different between Mac and Windows versions of iTunes. In Windows, click "Sync Contacts With" while you should press "Sync Contacts" if you are using a Mac. Select one of the compatible programs for the source of the address book and then press "Apply." Wait for the iPad to sync or click "Sync" to synchronize the device manually.

Third-Party Apps

  • If you do not want to use the iTunes synchronization process to import contacts, you can use a third-party app. These apps are not included with the iPad or produced by Apple, but they can streamline the importation process. The "Import and Export Contacts" app allows iPad users to bring a CSV list directly into the Apple device. It is published by Beach House Software and is available for $3.99 from the iPad App Store. "Contacts In" is another app that can import contacts directly to the iPad. This app is produced by Dmitry Kalmykov and costs $1.99. Prices are current as of April 2013.


  • Information in this article applies to Apple iTunes 11 and Mac iOS 10.8. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.


  • Photo Credit Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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