Translation Error importing CSV exported from Hotmail or Outlook.com

Last reviewed on June 1, 2013   —  13 comments

Import CSV error messageWhen exporting contacts from Hotmail or Outlook.com website in CSV format and import into Outlook, you may receive a Translation Error message, telling you that a file error occurred in the translator.

Note: this error is not limited to CSV files exported from Outlook.com or Hotmail.

Translation Error

A file error has occurred in the Comma Separated Values translator while initializing a translator to build a field map.
Outlook was unable to retrieve the data from the file "E:\Downloads\WLMContacts.csv". Verify that you have the correct file, that you have permission to open it, and that it is not open in another program.

This is the result of the exported file's Unicode encoding. When the CSV is opened in Excel, all of the comma-separated fields are shown in one cell, not one cell per field. Excel can’t detect the field separators and neither can Outlook.

If you open the file in Excel to look at it, close it without saving.

Solution: Save the CSV with ANSI format selected. Open the CSV file in Notepad and use File, Save as then select ANSI from the Encoding dropdown and Save using the existing file name.

Save CSV using ANSI format

Unicode format causes error

Tip: to open using Notepad when Excel is set as the default, right click on the CSV file and choose Open with... from the context menu. Choose Notepad from the menu. If Notepad is not listed, select Choose default program to open the application picker dialog. Deselect the Set as default option from the Choose program dialog before selecting Notepad.

How to open the CSV file in notepad video tutorial

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

13 responses to “Translation Error importing CSV exported from Hotmail or Outlook.com”

  1. Hemant

    I am having a similar issue when importing my Windows Live Mail contacts into Outlook 2010. After opening the file in Notepad and saving it with ANSI encoding, it is only able to save as a .txt file. Do I need to convert it back to a .csv file to import in Outlook?

  2. Hemant

    Works! Thanks!

  3. Eelco Haarsma

    Hi Diane,

    I followed your procedure with ANSI encodig and was able to import all my contacts into outlook but all the contacts are empty, so have no data. I then try to delete the empty contacts but this doesnt work either.

    any ideas how to fix this.

    Thanks.

    Regards,

    Eelco

  4. Halvor Røyset

    I have the same probolem. Saved it in Notepad as ANSI, looked at it in Excel but comma separation is still not working (everything in col A).I can now import it into Outlook 2013 without any errors, but I just getempty contacts:-(

  5. Halvor

    Hi, here are two different causes for my problems:
    1) I exported from Gmail in "Outlook csv-format", used Notepad to convert to ANS: This imports to Outlook 2013 without any errors but with EMPTY CONTACTS :-(
    I did not investigate this any further
    2) Then tried "Google csv-format" pluss ANSI conversion and mported into Outlook 2013 without any problems.

    For Excel Norwegian language version: csv-files are using the semi-colon ";" as separator since comma "," is used as decimal point in numbers. Accordinglys comma-separated files may be comfusing since they do not display correcly in Excel. If you then save it as csv-file, you have to repolace all the separators by comma before importing to Outook (even though Outlook is the Norwegian langauge version too).

    Thank you for the ANSI hint!

  6. Lynn

    I have tried all of these and still get the translation error. The comma separated values are in their own fields. They all have headings. I have opened with notepad and saved as ansi format. Any other suggestions?

    Lynn

  7. Rich

    Hi Diane,

    When I upload my CSV file into Outlook.com (in People really), it keeps on saying "There was a problem...Try importing again...". I've tried multiple times with no success. Do you have any idea as to what I can do next? Thanks!

    Rich

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