Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another Gmail issue - Import contacts

Sometimes I am wondering how bugs like that could slip through Google's nets.
While trying to switch gmail accounts, I tried to export my contacts from one account in order to export them onto the other one.

It just doesn't work the message I get is:

Oops. An unknown error occured while importing your contacts.

Come on Google do something here.


Jonathon D. Colman said...

I've had the same problem for about a month. No success after trying a number of fixes with my CSV file of contacts. :(

Phil Beresford said...

Hey Jonathon, have you found a fix for this? I have the same problem. Glad I'm not the only one tearing my hair out.

Jon the Canadian said...

After transferring about 2GB of email (retaining labels and dates but changing the email address everywhere to show that I received and sent email from my own domain! thanks to imapysnc with ubuntu on windows virtual pc)...

I've got the same problem - but I was able to export and import a group of 10 contacts. There's got to be something in some contact listings that chokes it up. My guess is that if there's one bizarre email address the whole thing will choke.

I'm testing now, I'll try to come back here and post an update - I found the blog post via a google search, so others with this problem are likely reading this as well.

Phil Beresford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Beresford said...

Hey Jon
I think you're right about there being one email address choking things up.

I finally got all my contacts in, but not after a bit of effort.

Basically I started importing in smaller amounts at a time around 100 or so. When the error occured I knew then that the problem was contained with this set of contacts. By process of elimination I found that it was my own adress that was causing the problem. Whilst this may not be the case in all instances I did discovered that Gmail certainly spits the dummy when there is an address in your list that already has the same as one you're importing in. This feels as though it is a bug within Gmail itself.

Jon the Canadian said...

Yes, that's the trick- thanks for the tip. I just started using my google hosted account, so I only had a few contacts.

I deleted all of my contacts in my new account, then tried the import.

Worked perfectly. 825 contacts imported in seconds.

Deleting 20 contacts at a time is the max, so you may have to delete in groups, or go through the importing cvs file and remove the duplicates.

Phil Beresford said...

Yeah, I got caught out by the 20 max limit on deletion too :(

Deleting 20 at a time is very tedious indeed, particularly as you can't shift select.

So was it your own address that caught you out Jon?

Jon the Canadian said...

I don't actually know which address(es) caused the problem - my new account had only collected about 30 contacts, so I just removed all of them and uploaded the new cvs.

Dpolls team said...

Thanks all for the comments.
It still doesn't work for me.
I tried splitting my address book in smaller chunks of 10 addresses.

I couldn't make it either.

I am simply giving up on this.

How can Google make such poor quality software. They can't even import their own format !

Phil Beresford said...

Hey Dpolls team
In the lot of 10 where you still expereinced the problem, start splitting these 10 further, maybe into individual email address. I can assure you, you will identify the address that's misbehaving. Once you do, delete it from your list and try again.

Don't give up. It's a pain yes, a bug in Gmail, maybe. But seriously Gmail is well worth it just for the spam filtering alone.

Anonymous said...

I found two things that worked:
1. Find and remove all commas from your excel file before creating the CSV.
2. Remove your own gmail is very weird...if this is left in the csv file, it will not import. Someone else mentioned this earlier in the list.

Anonymous said...


After spending nearly 9 hours trying everything we could think of (including importing smaller and smaller groups) here are the steps that finally worked for us:

1. We backed up (exported) our existing Gmail contacts list as a Google csv.

2. Then, using the tips found here, about deleting our own gmail address AND any commas in the csv file we were trying to import, we created a new, improved csv file (using Numbers on OS 10.5.4).

3. We then deleted ALL our contacts (500 at a time) in our Gmail contact list. (remember again to export whatever contacts first, for safety)

4. We log out, and back in, and them imported our new, improved csv, and voila! all 992 contacts came in ok.

5.Then we re-imported out Gmail backup csv file for a grand total of 1273 contacts!!

Hope this helps.


Douglas Porter said...

After process of elimination. I found the contact having the issue. All that was entered for that contact was name and email. The email did have 2 underscores: _

They were searated by the letter a: _a_

Other email address that had 1 _ worked fine.

Carl C said...

Here is the fix!!!! This guy has a link to buy him a beer at the bottom of the article...well worth it.

Preston said...

There's another layer to this problem. I was just trying to solve this so I could import my contacts from Thunderbird (previously synced to a Palm) to my G1. It didn't work until I filled in the empty Section 1 - Description field with either "Personal" or "Work", depending on what the primary phone number is. So silly that Google can get so much right, but not this. Hope that helps someone.

dk said...

Here's the solution that worked for me. In Gmail 2.0 they have a feature "Suggested Contacts" which causes the problem.

"Basically if you have a contact in Google's suggested contacts that has exactly the same
email address but with a different CAPS setting, so for example
[SSmith @] and you are importing []" then gmail will try and store the second address as a new email address. HOWEVER, GMail uses the email address as the primary key (unique identifier) WITHOUT CASE SENSITIVITY for a contact so the database code will throw and error trying to create a new contact "ssmith" since it already has "SSmith" stored.

So you can just delete all your "Suggested Contacts" and this will fix the problem.

This was taken from the post:

Steven James Burks said...

Carl C's tip will work for most people and is recommended to try first.

Thanks for that, Carl!

Nicolas said...

I'm using Google Apps for Domains and my issue was that I was importing a list including a contact from my own domain (not me). This is a bug in Gmail Contacts.

BTW, I had many people with multiple underscores "_" in their email address and that didn't generate an error.

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