I have an old Address Book .abbu archive that has some contact data that I need to recover. I do not want to restore the entire address book archive, and I especially do not want to overwrite my current address book.

But... It seems like the only way to access an .abbu file is to entirely replace the current address book in a full restore.

Is there any way to browse and selectively access contacts in an address book archive?


  • 1
    You could import the .abbu file under the guest account, thus not risking the integrity of your main address book. That doesn't handle the side-by-side comparison though. You could also use Export Address Book ($4) to write vCards from specific entries under guest, then import those files under your main account. Not a perfect solution but closer.
    – duozmo
    Oct 17 '12 at 4:30

You can

  1. store the contents of your current Address Book in an archive (.abbu)
  2. restore the contents of the old file.
  3. purge the entries you don't want to keep
  4. export the remaining ones
  5. the current archive file (created in step 1)
  6. import the file from step 4
  • This doesn't allow for browsing of both address books side-by-side, which would be much more ideal.
    – radven
    Nov 20 '11 at 4:10
  • 1
    @radven That's correct, but this is a limitation of Apple's software. I recommend you accept this answer as it's easy and quick to do, and there haven't been any other answers proposed.
    – bneely
    Feb 16 '12 at 1:35
  • 1
    I've accepted this because it does work - but I found that it is actually a bit less awkward to create a second account that has the original address book, and which can be switched to via fast user switching.
    – radven
    Nov 4 '12 at 5:45
  • Great idea re making 2nd account. Also note that according to this post discussions.apple.com/message/19849753#19849753 the contacts format was changed in Mtn Lion. I have an old contacts file from Lion and my Mavericks Contacts app won't import it at all. It opens the file but then nothing actually imports. Will probably have to take it to Genius Bar.
    – Eric
    Dec 30 '13 at 1:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .