It's not unusual to receive an Excel sheet with a list of appointments or tasks. But if you use Outlook to keep up with your obligations, a list in Excel isn't helpful. You could enter each record as a new appointment—or you can import the Excel data directly into Outlook appointments. I'd choose the latter! In this article, I'll show you how to create Outlook appointments from a few Excel records. By saving the source data in the comma-delimited format and then mapping that data to Outlook, you can import most anything into the appropriate Outlook item—with little effort.
I'm using Outlook 2016 on a Windows 10 64-bit system. Using an older version, you won't have to save the data to a .csv formatted file before importing because Outlook's wizard supports Excel and Access. You can work with your own Excel data or download the simple demonstration .xlsx or .xls file.
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Prepare the source data
In older versions of Outlook, you can import directly from an Excel workbook, but that's no longer the case in the most recent versions. Before you can import Excel data into Outlook 2016, you must save that data to comma -separated (delimited) format, .csv.
To illustrate this process, we'll use the simple data set shown in Figure A. Note that the data is appropriate for an Outlook appointment (or task). Specifically, there's meaningful text that identifies the appointment and an appointment date and time. It's important that you start with appropriate data.
We'll import this simple data set.
Now, let's save this sheet to .csv format as follows:
- Click the File tab and choose Save As in the left pane.
- Change the filename if necessary. Excel won't write over your Excel workbook file; it will create a new .csv file.
- From the File Type dropdown, choose the CSV (Comma delimited) (*.csv) option (Figure B).
- Click Save. You can ignore the possible data loss error if shown. Be sure to note the location of the file if there's any chance you won't remember where it is.
- Close the .csv file you just created.
Choose the .csv option.
The demonstration file contains one sheet because that's all the .csv feature supports. Excel won't allow you to save a multiple-sheet workbook to .csv format. The sheet uses a Table object to organize the data, but you could also use a normal data range. With the data in .csv format, you're ready to import that data into Outlook.
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Import into Outlook
Open Outlook and prepare to import the records shown in Figure A into your Outlook calendar. To launch the wizard, click the File tab, choose Open & Export in the left pane, and then click Import/Export from the Open section. Now, run the wizard as follows:
- In the wizard's first pane, choose Import From Another Program Or File (if necessary) and click Next.
- Choose Comma Separated Values and click Next.
- Click the Browse button and work through the folder structure to select the .csv file you created earlier. Click OK after selecting that file. This pane also lets you determine how Outlook deals with duplicate data. There won't be any in our example, but when applying this to your own work, you'll want to choose appropriately. For now, accept the default option, Allow Duplicates To Be Created, and click Next.
- Select Calendar (Figure C) and click Next. If you have more than one calendar, be sure to select the right one.
- Click Map Custom Fields. If necessary, check Import "yourfilename" to enable the Map Custom Fields option.
- At this point, you must identify the Excel values to import and specify where to put them. The left pane lists the Excel fields. The right pane lists the Calendar items and shows the default mapping (Figure D). The Task field isn't mapped because there's no Calendar field by that name. However, the date and time fields do have matching field names, so Outlook can map them correctly. You can change them if you need to, but in this case, Outlook mapped them correctly. To map the Task field, simply drag it from the left pane to the right pane.
- When you've mapped all the desired fields, click OK and then Finish to trigger the import.
Identify the calendar.
Map the Excel fields to the Calendar fields.
Figure E shows one of the newly created appointments. As you can see, it contains the Excel data for one record mapped appropriately to the Calendar fields.
Outlook imports the Excel data.
This article has a specific goal—to import Excel data into an Outlook appointment. Using .csv data and Outlook's wizard, you can import lots of different data into different Outlook items. The process is the same; the key is to import appropriate data and to select the right Outlook item (Figure C).
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Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.