Last reviewed on December 30, 2013   —  2 Comments

There are two ways to convert a contact group to individual contacts: Create a list of the Contact Group members and import them into Contacts or use a macro to create the contacts.

Use this method to save the names and addresses of contact group (distribution list) members in a text file to use in other programs or to import into Outlook Contacts.

  1. Open the DL
  2. Go to the File, Save as menu. (This is the Office icon menu in Outlook 2007)
  3. Choose to save as a *.txt file.

This saves the DL as a text file. You can edit it in Notepad or Excel and import it, or forward it to other users.

In this tutorial, I’m extracting the names from a DL so I can import them into Outlook as individual Contacts.

Create Contacts from Contact Groups using VBA

See How to use Outlook’s VBA Editor

You need the GetCurrentItem function from Outlook VBA: work with open item or selected item. This allows you to run the macro either by selecting the Contact Group or from an open Contact Group.

' Based on a macro by Valk Beekman.
Sub CreateContactsfromDL()
Dim o_list As Object

Dim objContact As Outlook.ContactItem

' set your category here.
t_cat = "From DL"

' Current object and should be the distributionlist
Set o_list = GetCurrentItem()

For i = 1 To o_list.MemberCount
 ' Create separate contacts
Set objContact = Application.CreateItem(olContactItem)
With objContact
        .Email1Address = o_list.GetMember(i).Address
        .FullName = o_list.GetMember(i)
        .Categories = t_cat
End With


Set objContact = Nothing
Set o_list = Nothing
End Sub

More Information

Create a Distribution List from a list of addresses – Recipients can use this method to convert the list to a new DL or to add the members to an existing DL.
Create a text file containing the names and email addresses in a DL – This tutorial uses the Forward as Internet format (vCard) method.
Create a list of Contact Group members and their phone numbers VBA Sample
Add a Category to Contacts in a Contact Group (DL) VBA sample


  1. Robyn says

    This is too messy when all a user is likely to want is a quick export of names and email addresses from a contact group. Why are the contact group details saved as PDLs instead of in the same way as other contacts? Why not have this conversion to individual contacts as an option just as Export is an option?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      if you just want a quick list of names and addresses, use Forward as > Internet format then open the text file that is created on the Forward. You can edit the list (remove the non-contact stuff and add field names) then import.

      I don't know why they went with this method of doing DL's, but it's been like this for 15 yrs or more and I don't expect it to change. I don't know why they never created an export option for this, probably because way back when, members of a DL were already contacts, so it wasn't necessary. Now they are removing export filters, not adding new ones.

Leave a Reply

Please post long or more complicated questions at OutlookForums by

If the Post Comment button disappears, press your Tab key.