How to Sync Outlook 2011 for Mac with Mac Address Book

Outlook 2011 for Mac With the introduction of Outlook 2011 for Mac, many Mac users are asking the burning question around how to sync Outlook 2011 for Mac with the native Mac Address Book, which is now called “Contacts” (for the duration of this article, Mac Address Book will now be known as either “Contacts” or “Mac Contacts”). This is especially relevant as many users now sync their mobile phone contacts (Blackberry, Android, iPhone) with the native Address Book contacts manager. For example, RIM’s Desktop Manager for Mac syncs with iCal and the Contacts and relies on Sync Services to sync with Outlook 2011 contacts. If you will now be managing your contacts inside Outlook, you will need a way to sync these contacts back to the native Address Book.

This is also true if you are using Scrubly to clean up your Address Book contacts. You will need to turn on Sync Services inside Outlook to sync your newly cleaned up contacts from Mac Contacts to Outlook Contacts. Follow the steps below.

Before we begin, you should note that Outlook 2011 will sync contacts from Address Book, and you can sync e-mail accounts with Mail. However, Outlook 2011 does not support CalDAV or CardDAV that’s required for iCloud contacts and calendars.

We recommend that you update Outlook 2011 to the latest SP3 version 14.3.4 or later. Go to Help > Check For Updates to download the latest version.

Outlook 2011 for Mac

Check the necessary updates and click the Install button.

Outlook 2011 for Mac

Follow all the required steps until the installation is complete.

Outlook 2011 for Mac

Note that if you’re using Exchange then you don’t want to sync Outlook for Mac with Address Book Contacts or iCal. That will cause duplicates. You should sync Address Book Contacts and iCal directly with your Exchange account.

Click To Download These Step By Step Instructions

Setting up Sync Services for Mac:

  1. Before turning on Sync Services inside Outlook 2011, be sure to turn off all other 3rd party sync services you may be running in the background. Once Outlook 2011 has completed its initial sync with Address Book, you may turn these services back on again.
  2. As a precaution, make a backup of your Contacts. File > Export. Outlook 2011 for Mac

    It’s important to make a backup of your data after you clean it up and before you sync. This way if there are problems you can erase and import the clean backup file.

  3. Tick Outlook for Mac Data File (.olm) and check all items you want to export and click the right arrow to continue. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  4. Tick No, do not delete items and click the right arrow to continue. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  5. Save the .olm file in your local directory. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  6. When the export is complete, click the Done button. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  7. In Outlook 2011, open Preferences. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  8. Click Sync Services. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  9. Check Contacts and then select the account(s) you would like to sync. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  10. Close the Sync Services window. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  11. A new window will pop-in. Click the OK button. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  12. Click OK to allow SyncServicesAgent to access your contacts. Outlook 2011 for Mac

Troubleshooting Sync Services for Mac:

The above steps are really quite easy, however, many users have complained that syncing does not occur after following these steps. Here’s a few troubleshooting tips you can follow in the event this happens to you. Important: Be sure to back up your Address Book and Outlook Contacts before testing any of these Troubleshooting steps.


  1. Launch iSync, located in the Applications > Utilities folder
  2. Open preferences window in iSync Application Menu
  3. Check “Enable syncing on this computer”. Sometimes this option seems to be disabled or you can’t check or uncheck this option after starting iSync. In this case, wait for iSync to complete the sync process and then the option will be available again.
  4. Reset Sync History.

Delete Plist Files

  1. Force quit all applications currently running.
  2. Go > Home > Library > Preferences
  3. Search for all files containing “” drag these files to the Trash
  4. Search for the file “” and drag this file to the Trash
  5. Start Outlook
  6. Go to Tools and select Sync Services. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  7. Confirm that “Contacts” is checked. Outlook 2011 for Mac

Close and Re-Start Sync Services Agent

  1. Force Quit Outlook
  2. Applications > Utilities > Activity Monitor
  3. Look for the Sync Services Agent under Process Name
  4. Highlight this process and click Quit in the upper left
  5. Close Activity Monitor
  6. Re-Start Outlook

Additional Troubleshooting Tips for Office

Additional detailed steps for issues syncing Contacts and Contact Groups in Address Book

  1. Open Contacts. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  2. Back up your contacts by choosing Export from the File menu and selecting Contacts Archive. Outlook 2011 for Mac
  3. Remove any duplicate or unnecessary blank entries by using Scrubly to delete duplicate contacts inside Mac Address Book.
  4. From the Address Book menu, choose Preferences and click the vCard tab. Ensure the 3.0 option is selected for vCard Format and that both the “Export notes in vCards” and “Export photos in vCards” options are selected.
    Outlook 2011 for Mac
  5. Create a new folder on the desktop. Select all of the contacts in the Name category in Address Book by choosing one of them and then choosing Select All from the Edit menu. Next, drag all these contacts into the new folder on the desktop by clicking and dragging one of the highlighted names; this will result in one vCard generated with all your contacts.
  6. Open iSync, then choose iSync > Preference and deselect the option to “Enable Syncing on this computer.” Skip this step if you are running Mac OS Lion 10.7 or later as iSync is no longer supported in current versions of Mac OS.
  7. Delete all of the contacts and groups in Mac Contacts. Quit Contacts.
  8. Choose Home from the Finder’s Go menu, open the Library folder, and then open the Application Support folder.
  9. Locate the “Address Book” folder and move it to the Trash.
  10. Choose Home from the Finder’s Go menu, then open the Library folder.
  11. Open the Preferences folder, in the Library folder.
  12. Move the following files to the Trash: and
  13. Choose Home from the Finder’s Go menu, then open the Library folder.
  14. Drag the files located inside the “Caches” folder to the Trash (do not move the “Caches” folder itself, only its contents).
  15. Choose Go To Folder from the Finder’s Go menu, then go to this location:
  16. Drag the files located inside the “Caches” folder to the Trash (do not move the “Caches” folder itself, only its contents).
  17. Log out of your user account (choose Log Out from the Apple menu).
  18. Log in to your user account.
  19. Open iSync and then choose iSync > Preferences > Advanced > Reset Sync History. Then, select the option to “Enable Syncing on this Computer.” Skip this step if you are running Mac OS Lion 10.7 or later as iSync is no longer supported in current versions of Mac OS.
  20. Open Address Book. Drag the vCard from the folder you created on your desktop to the Address Book window to re-import them. To re-create contact groups, create the groups first in Address Book and then drag the appropriate vCards to each group.
  21. Attempt to sync normally using iTunes for your iPhone, iPod, and iPod touch, or use iSync for other mobile devices.
  22. If the contacts still do not sync, try starting your computer in Safe Mode by pressing and holding down the Shift key after hearing the chime on startup. It may take several minutes to start your computer in Safe Mode. After starting in Safe Mode, restart your computer and then attempt to sync normally.
  23. If your contacts don’t sync, consider contacting AppleCare for support, or see this article for more information about removing the Sync Services folder. However, removing this folder is strongly discouraged, and should only be performed when the syncing Mac has been started in Safe Mode.
  24. Once your contacts and groups sync correctly, create a new backup of your contacts, using the procedure outlined in step 1. This will preserve any of the changes you made that fixed your sync issue.


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  • Christian Kennel

    Thanks for the informative article.

    I followed all links and advice to a T and I can get my Outlook contacts to sync but what happens is that it doesn’t recognize duplicate entries so after about 2 hours I have multiple entries for the same contact and after about 6 hours I have 8 or 9 multiple entires. The weird part is that it doesn’t happen with ALL contacts only the majority of them.

    I have Mobile Me sync on for my other computers and my iPhone on so this over-bloated list then propagates to all of my contact lists. Mobile Me has sync issues with the iPhone without Outlook in the picture but Add Outlook (and Google) and nothing seems to work. It’s quite frustrating but as long as you have a master clean copy of your contact list you can just keep starting over and trying the process again. I am actually surprised there haven’t been more complaints or posts about this.

    It would be great if I could somehow sync my Work Exchange contacts with my iPhone, MBP, Mac Mini, Google, and home Outlook (no Exchange). It seems like it should be possible but I cannot figure it out at all.

    I am also surprised that there are no Contact management tools whatsoever in Outlook 2011 for Mac. You can delete and add and that’s about it. I thought they would have at least done a “Find Duplicates” and “Delete or Merge Duplicates”. Weird.

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  • Carol Martin

    I have the same problem, although I don’t use Mobile Me. As soon as I clean up all the contact duplicates in Outlook 2011 for mac, I try to erase the ones in Address Book (after backing up, of course), so I can resync with Outlook but it does it automatically. I have even turned it off in preferences, but no go. I can’t control a two-way , or even a one way sync manually. I’m really frustrated about this!

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  • Travis

    This is so frustrating. I did the same thing and also had duplicates start showing up. However, it quit syncing as soon as I turned iCloud back on. I can’t believe Microsoft can’t come up with a solution for this issue. I also can’t believe Apple won’t help get this issue resolved. Can’t we all just get along!

  • joe

    same problem, i have. after synch between outlook and apple addresses, several hours later apple addresses starts to triple the contacts that came nicely from outlook. then, outlook starts to erase emails in 70% of its contacts. i have spent now 2 days on this with microsoft hotline and no solution… sucks !!

  • joe

    nobody has a solution ?

  • Patrick T

    When I go to Sync Services on Outlook 2011 Mac, it is blank without any data shown.

    What am I missing?

  • Patrick T

    I also have a different issue with Office 2011 Mac.

    Ever since I upgraded OS X on my iMac, every time I shut my iMac down, when I start up again and re-open Outlook, every thing has been removed, emails and accounts.

    If I then put the account details back in place the emails will then re-load.

    However, if I shut down again the same thing happens again.

    Am I missing something obvious??

  • rje

    What is the Outlook for Mac Data File??

    • Hi RJE,

      The Outlook for Mac Data File (.olm) is the Outlook 2011 backup file you can optionally create as a backup for your contacts and other Outlook 2011 data.

  • Borut Borut

    If you dont see the files :
    1. Launch Terminal, located at /Applications/Utilities.
    2. Enter the following command at the Terminal prompt:
    chflags nohidden ~/Library
    It will show your complete library folder under mavericks and lion and mountain lion

  • Anthony Tse

    Great post. What is the solution for OS X 10.9 “Mavericks” to sync Mac contacts to outlook 2011?