Translation Error importing CSV exported from Hotmail or Outlook.com

Last reviewed on June 1, 2013

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.

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