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What the ‽ : Importing foreign and unicode data to Messenger

August 14, 2015

You can use data from a variety of sources within Messenger, but one thing we see people having troubles with now and again is using Excel and accented or other unicode ('emoticon') letters.

We'll take you through the steps to get your data correctly formatted and imported, which requires choosing just the right options in both Excel and Messenger.

I'm going to be talking about using the latest version of Excel from Office 365, but by and large you'll find the same options in any other version as well. There are also some different settings that can be set on your computer and in Office itself that might effect things, but we're using the defaults on Windows 10 for this tutorial.

Get started by opening up the .xls or .xlsx file in Excel. You can also start from a .csv file, but generally if you have a .csv file it will already be in the correct format and will upload correctly with no further actions required.

excel_saveasFrom the File menu, choose "save as", and pick the location.

Then in the Save As window pick "Unicode Text" as "Save as type".

Excel will warn you that "some features might be lost". This is OK because you still have your original Excel file.

Now use Notepad to re-open the new file. Right click on the new file and choose 'open with'. You should see your data correctly recorded with accented or other special characters.  If not, one common setting to check is in the Excel 'Save As' dialogue, under 'Tools, Web Options'. In the 'Encoding' tab, make sure 'Western European (Windows)" or "Unicode" is selected.

notepad_saveasYou must now re-save the file in Notepad, but with a slightly different option.
In the "File, Save As..." window change the 'encoding' drop down box to UTF-8 and save the file.

Now, login to Messenger (picking the correct client if you have several sub accounts) and select the "Targets" tab and press the "import list" button.

Press "browse" to select the file you just saved (not the original Excel file of course) and correct the list name if you like.

Next, make sure you select "Columns separated by" as "Tab".seperated_by_tab

Another common issue here is the the first column name starts with two odd looking characters before the actual name. This means the unicode settings for the export were wrong.

If you are still having trouble after following these steps, get in touch with us and we'll either pin point the problem or complete the upload for you.

Posted by Tom Chiverton
General, Tip of the month

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