Currently, I am using Thunderbird as my e-mail client, and the integrated address book for keeping track of my contacts' addresses. However, while this is fine to have for putting e-mail addresses into e-mails I am writing, I am dissatisfied with this solution as a general address manager for several reasons:

  • It is e-mail centered. It feels "wrong" to add contacts to my Thunderbird address book who only have a physical address, but no e-mail address.
  • Contacts can have only one physical address. Many of my contacts sometimes change their address, and I find out only later which one is the preferred one, meaning that I have to store all of them in the meantime. Furthermore, some contacts have different addresses for receiving letters, for receiving parcels, and/or for receiving visitors (the latter usually being where they live), all of which need to be distinguished.
  • There are no handy exporting features to custom formats.
  • Even on the e-mail side, it is slightly lacking, given that I can store only up to two e-mail addresses per contact (which is often way too little).

Therefore, I am looking for an open source address book software that runs on Windows (preferably also on other platforms). It must not be cloud-based (in the sense that it stores address my data on some remote server run by the software producer or similar; web-based or client/server software that can be installed on a locally running server is ok); it must run and keep all data locally on my PC.

For each contact, the address book should allow storing any number of the following data items:

  • names
  • physical mail addresses
  • e-mail addresses
  • phone numbers
  • any other contact identifiers (IM networks etc.)

The program should also have the following features:

  • I need to be able to add annotations for each of the above contact data. At least, a simple textual comment where I can note down things like "address from received envelope from 2016-03-12; find out whether this is new home address".
  • The application should offer to export single addresses or sets of addresses into (more or less) custom formats - for instance, exporting to CSV is fine, but I should be able to indicate both formatting options such as delimiters, as well as the actual file contents by specifying a custom ordering, selection, and combination of columns1.
    • Ideally, such an export formatting can simply be indicated as an editable textual template with placeholders.
    • Bonus points if this can optionally be done while distinguishing between countries (as conventions for address formatting differ between countries; e.g. the ordering of street name and building number).
  • It should support Unicode.

Direct synchronization (other than by file transfer) with anything external is a plus, but not required.

1: Exemplary use case: German mail offers online stamps ready to be printed on envelopes along with addresses. The addresses can be entered manually or supplied via a CSV file, but in the latter case, the columns have to match exactly what the stamp printing service expects, hence this should come directly from the address book application.

  • Thunderbird was the only open source email client that has been essentially shut down although it can't still be downloaded I believe. I doubt you will find an open source version of what you are looking for but I could be wrong.
    – William
    Commented Feb 19, 2017 at 20:33
  • @LiamWilliam: I do not understand. As far as I can tell, Thunderbird is still actively being developed. And even if the project had been "shut down", as you say, I do not see how that could possibly lead to the conclusion that there are no other suitable address books around. Commented Feb 19, 2017 at 22:12
  • Moziila pulled the plug cnet.com/news/… notice I'm leaving these as comments. Thunderbird was probably some of the best software out there so I wouldn't be surprised if nothing comes close in the open source community that is all. Why does it need to be open source? You might find a web app that comes close maybe.
    – William
    Commented Feb 19, 2017 at 22:19
  • @LiamWilliam: That article you linked is from 2012. Almost 5 years have passed since, and Thunderbird is still under active development and generating new releases. For all intents and purposes, Thunderbird is an active and alive project; it has not "been essentially shut down", as you claim. As for why it has to be open source - I prefer that because if I end up really really liking the software except for one aspect, I am free to adapt it. Concerning a web app - how would I access that while I have no reliable internet connection? Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 15:20

2 Answers 2


It seems to me that what you wish is a Personal Information Manager (PIM), and I assume that when you say "synchronization with external device" you mean with an Android or iOS mobile phone (I am not considering you use palmOS PDA or anything similar).

For this I would suggest you look at EssentialPIM: https://www.essentialpim.com/

There is a free version for you to try (not demo-time limited, free forever with less features than Pro version). The free version syncs with mobile phones.

It will be difficult to find a PIM that is not "email-centered" though.

It would also be good to look at "Business Card" apps - the ones that Scan business cards and automatically generates a contact card. Most of them integrate with your phone address book, however there are a few that allow for the contacts to be kept separately from your address book (in the app itself). I use CamCard for instance.

There are other approaches to this: use of database applications, like Symphytum (http://giowck.github.io/symphytum/) where you can create contact form and be able to edit this form however you wish (some contacts have emails, some do not).

Open source software for PIM nowadays is difficult to find, as they are mostly self-hosted CRM solutions, which I believe is not what you are looking for(a more end-user scenario).

In any case I believe EssentialPIM is your best choice, not Open Source but a free version and if you like it, you can just buy it and not have to subscribe to anything.

I hope I helped. Cheers.


Microsoft Outlook supports everything you have listed here. Yes, it is primarily thought of as a mail client, but there is a 'People' component of it that can be used for storing contacts. You do not have to even use the email functions and it will open up to your contacts. All of your data is stored on your computer, and you can easily export them to different formats.

The only catch is it isn't open source and you have to pay for it, but I believe that this is the best program out there for this purpose, and it is the industry standard. You will want Outlook 2010, as 2013 and newer versions lack some features that you have described here. Outlook 2010 allows you to add custom fields, notes, and multiple values for an identifier. You can even choose to add your own pictures.

Hope this works,

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