Updated: 11/16/2019 by Computer Hope
Export vs. Import

The process of moving data or settings used in one program to another. For example, a user may import their e-mail address book into the latest version of Microsoft Outlook.

Difference between export and import?

As seen in the image, when you are exporting, you are taking information from a program and putting it into a file. For example, you may export a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to a CSV (comma-separated values) file.

When you import, you are bringing in information from a file into a program. For example, you could import a CSV file you downloaded from the Internet into an Excel spreadsheet.

Where is the import option?

If the import option is available, it's often on the file menu section of the program or the same area as Save or Save As option.


Not all programs have an Import option. If the program can open different file formats, try saving the file as another format that is compatible with your program you want to use to import.

Problems that may arise when importing data

For a program to successfully import data, it needs to understand the data that is being imported. If the program does not understand the data, it's corrupt, or improperly formatted it'll not be imported correctly or at all.

If you encounter problems with importing data, try exporting the data as a different format. For example, with spreadsheet use a different delimiter that tells the program how to separate the data when importing.

Export, Merge, Software terms