LinkedIn Export (Contacts) Acting Goofy

October 4th, 2010 | by Jason Alba |

I am getting lots of emails from people who are having problems with exporting their contacts to a csv file.  I think I’ve figured something out (a solution) although I’m not sure why the problem exists.

The problem is that when you export the file to a csv, and then you attempt to open it, it isn’t really a csv… Excel is not recognizing the commas as separators… so you get a bunch of gobbledygook.

Here’s something that will solve this for many of you:

STEP 1: Go to Windows Explorer – the way I get there is to right-click on the start button and select Explorer (note: this is NOT “Internet Explorer, which is a web browser):


STEP 2: This next thing is an OPTIONAL step, but I do it so I can test that what I’m trying is actually working.  Browse to the folder where the csv file is – that might be your downloads folder, or your desktop… I can’t tell you where it is so pay attention when you download it :)

STEP 3: click on TOOLS at the top of Windows Explorer and then click on Folder Options.


Step 4: Click on the View Tab, then find the checkbox that says “Hide extensions for known file types.”  CLICK ON THAT!!


By default, Windows hides the extensions, which makes the view a little nicer… however, in a situation where you think you have a csv file but it’s really being saved as a txt file (which is what people are telling me), it really, really messes you up.

Now that you can view the file types you’ll probably see the file named something like:


Before it didn’t show the txt, but now that you are unhiding the “known file type” you can see that it isn’t really a csv, it is a txt!  Bleh!

(If you want you can click “Apply to All Folders” – this is something I do)

Step 5: go back into the folder and find your exported LinkedIn file… simply right-click and choose RENAME from the dropdown… remove the .txt so that it ends in .csv, and now you have the csv file that you were expecting :)

I have NO idea why this started happening – seems like it started in the last few months and has been very frustrating to find and fix!  Hopefully LinkedIn can figure out what the problem is (one of my readers said LI Customer Support said it was their email client messing it up… Oh My Gosh.  It has nothing to do with the email client!).

Having OTHER problems related to this file?  Leave a comment and hopefully we can get this all ironed out.

  1. 4 Responses to “LinkedIn Export (Contacts) Acting Goofy”

  2. By Ellen on Oct 6, 2010 | Reply


    You are too cool. I can’t believe that worked.

    It was a little like practicing voodoo and I felt like I should be saying special incantations along the way, but it worked!

    It must be great to have computer knowledge, as you do.

    Thanks so much for follow up on fixing this. Your LinkedIn seminar in the DC area last week was fantastic.


  3. By Fred Dempster on Oct 8, 2010 | Reply

    Well – so far I’ve had no issues (at least till this post!!) on two systems… however, and to the CRM post above, my LinkedIn training classes always require a little DR – Disaster Recovery. At least monthly, more if adding connections actively, export connections to the .csv file, date it, and dump it in a folder. I know 2 folks who lost their profile and for the one who did this, the pain of rebuild was a little less.

  4. By bruce on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    Do you have any suggestions for mac users FOR EXPORTING connection info. When I export my contacts from linked in there is no phone numbers or address.

  5. By Jason Alba on Mar 8, 2011 | Reply

    @Ellen – thank you :) :)

    @Fred – good advice :)

    @Bruce – afaik, LinkedIn doesn’t export that data. They have lots of blank columns in the export file that it seems they someday wanted to get to, but decided against it…. or something like that. I’m not sure why, but there is lots of blank columns… doesn’t matter whether you are on a mac or not.

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