How To Back Up Your Mac Address Book Contacts

Backing up your computer is one of the most overlooked maintenance chores. It’s not until that freshly brewed cup of coffee gets spilled across your laptop that you remember how important backups are. While most people use iCloud to back up their contacts on the Mac, this isn’t a perfect solution. You should have at least two backups for your data all the time.

Below are step by step instructions on how to backup and restore Mac OS X Contacts.

Export Mac Contacts

The easiest way to back up your contacts when using Apple Contacts is to export your address book. This saves your address book into a single file that can be saved to an external drive for safekeeping in case that coffee gets a little too close to your Mac.

To do this, first open up Contacts on your Mac. From here, go to the File menu and select Export. Choose Contacts Archive to continue.


A dialog box will appear, asking you to name the file and choose where it will be saved. You should leave the file name alone, but save the file to your desktop. This will help you find the file easier and move it to an external drive.


Depending on the number of contacts you have, this should only take a few seconds at most. Once the file saves, you should now see a file with an .abbu extension.


Move this file to a safe location. Ideally, you should do this at the very least once per month to make sure your contacts are safe. This can save you if you delete a contact by mistake and don’t realize it till later. Save your last 12 months of backups to an external drive.

Restore Mac Contacts

When the time comes where you need to restore your contacts, it’s just as simple as archiving them. Open up Contacts on your Mac and click the File menu. This time, choose the Import option.


Select the file you want to use for your restore and click OK. You will see a warning asking if you want to replace all contacts with the archive file. Click Replace All to continue.


The restore will run and your old contacts will be available again.

Note: This will replace ALL contacts on your mac, so make sure this is what you want to do.

Other Uses For Mac Contact Backups

If you aren’t using iCloud to save your contacts and sync them, this can be a great way to move your contacts from one machine to another as well. Create an archive of the contacts on your main machine and restore them on your other computer.

If you are doing a full re-install of OSX, this can be a good way to restore your contacts if you don’t use Time Machine backups, too.

Scrubly Cleans and Backs Up Your Contacts


While doing an archive of your contacts is fairly easy, another great way to back up your contacts is with Scrubly. When your contacts are scrubbed, they are saved and backed up on the Scrubly server and can be restored at any time.


Whatever the case, if you’re not backing up your contacts, you’re playing with fire. Get your contacts backed up to at least two separate locations on a regular basis. When you have a problem with them (and trust me, at some point, you will) it’s nice to know you’re covered and with a few clicks you’re back to normal.


Scrubly sign-up.