Importing Your Customer List in QuickBooks


  • QuickBooks has a simple process to import customers from other programs in bulk.
  • Export your lists in CSV format from Excel, Gmail, Outlook and other popular programs.
  • Adhere to size limits and formatting requirements to ensure seamless imports.
  • This article is for small business owners or bookkeepers getting started with QuickBooks.

If your accountant or bookkeeper uses QuickBooks to handle your company finances, it makes sense to store your accounting data and customer information in QuickBooks so that sending invoices is seamless. While you can add contacts to QuickBooks manually, you’ll save time and effort by importing customer data in bulk. 

Here’s a guide to exporting customer lists from Excel, Gmail, and Outlook and importing them into whatever version of QuickBooks you’re using, including QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Pro.

Did you know?Did you know? QuickBooks also has powerful payroll and time and attendance tools for small businesses. Read our QuickBooks Payroll review and QuickBooks Time review for more information.

Size limits and formatting requirements

Before you import customer files to QuickBooks, you should first understand formatting requirements and file size limits to ensure seamless data imports. 

  • There are file size limits. For Excel and Outlook, the import file size limit is 1,000 rows or 2MB. To import larger files, you’ll need to split up the data and perform multiple imports.
  • There may be incorrect file imports. If the file is imported incorrectly, and you have to re-import it,  the file won’t overwrite your customer list. Delete the mistakenly imported customers before you re-import the file, or you’ll end up with duplicates.
  • You can’t import sub-accounts. Change sub-accounts to parent accounts before importing them, then change them back after the import is complete.
  • Only one email address allowed. The QuickBooks import process supports only one email address. You can add more email addresses later.
  • A unique name is required for all data. All Name field entries must be unique. Customers can’t have the same name.

Here are some other formatting requirements when you’re importing lists from an Excel or Google spreadsheet:

  • Put column headers on the first row.
  • Put contacts on the spreadsheet’s Sheet1.
  • Be sure the spreadsheet has no formulas, blank rows or charts.
  • Ensure the spreadsheet doesn’t have any errors, such as  #VALUE, #N/A, #REF!, or #NAME?.
  • Don’t use any quotation marks, colons or other unacceptable symbols in the Name field.

How to import customer lists in QuickBooks Online

If you’re using the QuickBooks Online cloud-based accounting solution, which is accessible via web browser, it’s fast and easy to import data. You’re able to move existing inventory, supplier and customer lists – as well as account charts – from other applications, so you don’t have to enter data by hand.

We’ll explain how to import your customer lists into QuickBooks Online from common sources like Excel, Gmail and Outlook.

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Importing Excel customer lists into QuickBooks Online

Make sure your Excel customer spreadsheet is correctly formatted and mapped so you’re importing the correct data into the right fields. Open an existing Excel spreadsheet or create a new one, then follow these steps:

  1. Check headers. Make sure the columns in the first row of the spreadsheet have headers corresponding to customer data, such as Name, Email and Mobile Number.
  2. Populate the sheet. If you’re creating a new spreadsheet, populate it with contact information. Leave columns blank when you don’t have data available.
  1. Save the Excel spreadsheet. Save the file as an XLS or XLSX, and keep track of its location. The data you import maps to the invoicing details in QuickBooks.

Next, sign in to your QuickBooks Online account and follow these steps: 

  1. Select Settings (the gear icon).
  2. Select Import Data.
  3. Select Customers.
  4. In the Select a CSV or Excel file to upload box, click Browse.
  5. Navigate to your Excel spreadsheet and click Open.
  6. Click Next.
  7. If any data is missing, you’ll see a warning sign. If the data is complete, you’ll see a checkmark. Select Next.
  8. Modify the information, if necessary, and select Import.

Did you know?Did you know? QuickBooks has developed next-day payment features for ACH payments through its platform, so you can get paid much more quickly after invoicing.

Importing Gmail customer lists into QuickBooks Online

When it comes to importing customer lists from Gmail to QuickBooks Online, there are two easy ways. You can either link Google contacts via Gmail or export customer contacts to QuickBooks Online the traditional way. 

Linking Gmail contacts

  1. From your QuickBooks Online dashboard, select + New
  2. Under Customers, select Invoice
  3. You’ll be in a new blank invoice. In the Customer field, click the drop-down arrow and select Add New
  4. Select Connect your Gmail Account.
  5. Select Accept to sync your contacts from Gmail to QuickBooks Online.

You’ll now be able to choose a Gmail contact as a customer in any transaction, but these customers aren’t permanently added to your QuickBooks Online contacts. For that, you’ll need to import the entire list or add Gmail contacts manually.

If at any point you want to unlink your Gmail contacts from QuickBooks Online, select the Customer field drop-down arrow and click the paper clip icon. 

Importing customers from Gmail to QuickBooks Online

  1. Sign in to your Gmail account.
  2. Click the Contacts icon from the right side of the screen.
  3. Click Open in New Tab (the icon looks like a square with a diagonal arrow). 
  4. If you only want to export some contacts, click to select them. Otherwise, go to the next step.
  5. From the menu on the left, select Export
  6. Select Contacts to export all contacts, or click Selected Contacts to export the ones you chose. 
  7. Under Export as, select Google CSV
  8. Select Export. The file will save to your Downloads folder.

Next, sign in to your QuickBooks Online account and follow these steps: 

  1. Select Settings (the gear icon).
  2. Select Import Data.
  3. Select Customers.
  4. In the Select a CSV or Excel file to upload box, click Browse.
  5. Navigate to your newly downloaded Google CSV file and click Open.
  6. Click Next.
  7. If any data is missing, you’ll see a warning sign. If the data is complete, you’ll see a checkmark. Select Next.
  8. Modify the information, if necessary, and select Import.

TipTip: If QuickBooks isn’t right for your business, QuickBooks alternatives can be feature-rich and affordable. Read our review of Xero, our Sage review and our Zoho Books review to learn more.

Importing Outlook customer lists into QuickBooks Online

It’s easy to import your Outlook contacts into QuickBooks Online. 

Exporting Outlook 2010 data

  1. Click on the Office button at the upper left. 
  2. Select Saving.
  3. Select Export to open the Import Export Wizard, and follow the prompts.

Exporting Outlook 2007 and older data

  1. From the File menu, select Import and Export to open the wizard.
  2. Select Export to a File and enter Comma Separated Values
  3. Choose a save location and follow the prompts. 

Importing data into QuickBooks Online

After you’ve exported your Outlook data, take the following steps:

  1. Sign in to QuickBooks Online and select Settings (the gear icon). 
  2. Select Import Data.
  3. Select Customers.
  4. In the Select a CSV or Excel file to upload box, click Browse.
  5. Navigate to your Outlook CSV file and click Open.
  6. Click Next.
  7. If any data is missing, you’ll see a warning sign. If the data is complete, you’ll see a checkmark. Select Next.
  8. Modify the information if necessary, and select Import.

TipTip: Read our complete review of QuickBooks Online accounting sofware to learn more about the powerful features of this cloud-based tool.

How to import customer lists in QuickBooks Pro

Importing your customer lists into QuickBooks Pro, the QuickBooks desktop application, is also quick and easy.

Importing Excel customer lists into QuickBooks Pro

To import customer information from an Excel spreadsheet, take the following actions: 

  1. Launch QuickBooks Pro, go to the File menu, and select Utilities
  2. Select Import > Excel Files.
  3. You’ll see a window asking about adding and editing multiple List entries. Select No.

Next, the QuickBooks Pro Import Wizard will guide you through the import process. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Select customers.

  1. Select the data type you want to import.
  2. Select Customers
  3. If this is your first data import, you’ll see a pop-up warning that you can’t undo the import process. Select Yes to continue the import. 

Step 2: Transfer data.

  1. Copy customer details from your existing Excel spreadsheet and paste them into the QuickBooks Excel template file.
  2. Hover your mouse cursor over a cell to see information about what type of data it should contain. You’ll also see a cell formatting example above the column headers.

Step 3: Resolve issues.

Make sure your file is error-free before completing the import process. If QuickBooks finds a problem, you’ll see an error box on the top left and a warning triangle in the corner of the cell with erroneous data. QuickBooks will tell you what’s wrong and how to fix it.

Step 4: Save changes.

  1. After you’ve verified data accuracy, select Add My Data Now.
  2. If you haven’t yet saved the changes to the Excel template, select Save & Add My Data Now. Important: If you select I’ll Add My Data Later, you’ll lose your progress. 
  3. Save the file to your computer.

Step 5: Select and import the file.

  1. After you save the file, it should appear automatically in the Add My Data Now If you don’t see it, click Browse and select the file.
  2. Click Add My Data Now You’ll see a message that you’ve successfully imported your data file. You can now find your customer list in QuickBooks Pro. 

Importing Gmail customer lists into QuickBooks Pro

To import your Gmail contact list into QuickBooks Pro, create a CSV export file. 

  1. Sign in to your Gmail account.
  2. Click the Contacts icon from the right side of the screen.
  3. Click Open in New Tab (the icon looks like a square with a diagonal arrow).
  4. If you only want to export some contacts, click to select them. Otherwise, go to the next step.
  5. From the menu on the left, select Export.
  6. Select Contacts to export all contacts, or click Selected Contacts to export the ones you chose.
  7. Under Export as, select Google CSV.  
  8. Select Export. The file will save to your Downloads folder.

Next, launch QuickBooks Pro and follow these steps:

  1. Select Settings (the gear icon).
  2. Select Import Data.
  3. Choose Customers.
  4. Select Browse, navigate to the CSV export file, and click Open
  5. Select Next
  6. Map your data and select Next. Adjust anything that needs to be fixed.
  7. Select Import

Another option is to link your Gmail account to QuickBooks to access customers and suppliers easily without importing or adding them manually. Here’s how it works:

  1. Select the Create menu and choose a transaction.
  2. Select Add New from the top. 
  3. Select Connect Your Gmail Account.
  4. Click Accept to allow the application to access your Google account.

You’ll now be able to choose a Gmail contact as a customer in any transaction. 

Importing Outlook customer lists to QuickBooks Pro

QuickBooks Pro also accepts Microsoft Outlook imports. As with other tools, you’ll create a CSV file to import. Here’s how to do that: 

  1. Launch Outlook. 
  2. From the File menu, select Open and Export > Import/Export.
  3. The Import Export Wizard will appear. 
  4. Select Export to a File and choose CSV as the file type. 
  5. Save the file and note its location.

Next, launch QuickBooks Pro and follow these steps:

  1. Select Settings (the gear icon).
  2. Select Import Data.
  3. Choose Customers.
  4. Select Browse and navigate to the CSV export file, then click Open
  5. Select Next
  6. Map your data and select Next. Adjust anything that needs to be fixed.
  7. Select Import



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