Windows Contacts

Windows Contacts is a contact manager that is included in Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. It replaced but retains most of the functionality of Windows Address Book and worked with Windows Live Mail and the Vista version of Windows Mail.

Windows Contacts
Contacts folder inside Windows Explorer in Windows 7, showing example contacts.
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
ReplacesWindows Address Book
Replaced byPeople
Windows Contacts
Internet media typetext/x-ms-contact
Developed byMicrosoft
Type of formatelectronic business card
Container forcontact information
Extended fromXML
WebsiteWindows Contacts

Windows Contacts uses an XML-based schema format. Each contact appears as an individual .contact file, in which custom information including pictures can be stored. Window Contacts features extensibility APIs for integration with other applications and for storing custom information. The legacy *.wab format and the open standards *.vcf (vCard) and *.csv (CSV) are also supported.


  • Windows Contacts is implemented as a special folder. It is in the Start Menu of Windows Vista and can be run in Windows 7 and Windows 10 by searching for 'Contacts' (or 'wab.exe') in the Start Menu. Contacts can be stored in folders and groups.
  • It can import vCard, CSV, WAB and LDIF formats.
  • It can export in vCard 2.1 and CSV formats. Users can right-click a contact to quickly convert it to vCard format and send it to anyone.
  • It can print contacts in Memo, Business Card, and Phone List formats.
  • Because contacts are stored in the Contacts folder simply as individual .contact files, they’re just another data type in the operating system that can be indexed and searched by Windows Search. Individual contacts can be quickly accessed from the Start menu search text box.
  • People, the contact manager for can store its information in the Windows Contacts folder if the option to encrypt it is unchecked in Windows Live Messenger.[1] Whenever contacts in Messenger are updated, they'll be updated in Windows Contacts as well. This feature however only works up to Windows Live Messenger 8.5. Windows Contacts synchronization is not supported in Windows Live Messenger 9.0.
  • Windows Contacts exposes APIs for creating new contacts, reading and writing in an existing contact, adding a "Label" in the form of a URI to a "Property" or a "Property" to a "Contact", API for synchronizing devices with Windows Contacts.[2][3]

Outlook Express Export Bug

There is a known problem when exporting the Windows Address Book (*.wab) files to another PC. If the user has contacts organized into folders, this folder structure will not be preserved when the WAB file is imported. All contacts will be preserved, however, leaving some with a considerable task of manually reconstructing the folders and moving addresses back into their rightful places. See:

A solution for Windows versions still using WAB files as their address book is to copy, not export/import, the WAB files to their correct location. This often preserves the folder structure. Unfortunately, in Windows Live Mail this does not work as WLM doesn't use WAB.

See also


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