What is LDIF File Format

LDIF Files In LDAP Data Interchange File Format

Introduction to LDIF File

It is basically a text data file, which allows to share data between different directory servers or applications. It maintains directory records for a particular service. Moreover, it can also be used to share the information between different email clients by allowing them to save the required contact information in LDIF format. Thus, it provides a medium to export the data and migrate to another email application without any data loss by easily knowing what is LDIF file format.

The common fields enclosed within a LDIF file address book include:

  • dn(Distinguished Name): It represents the distinguished name for a particular record.
  • dc(Domain Component): It indicates the particular component of a domain.
  • ou(Organizational Unit): It indicates the name of organizational unit to which the user belongs.
  • cn(Common Name): It represents the individual fields related to the user.

MIME Type of LEF File

The MIME type of LDIF file is text/plain since it is a plain text file.

what is LDIF Format

What Does LDIF Stand For?

  1. The most genuine question that arises in mind is what is LDIF full form? Whenever any user comes across LDIF,
  2. The LDIF Full form is LDAP Data Interchange Format, which contains the extracted information in a plain text file.

Structure of LDIF File Format

LDAP Data interchange format file contains the data in the form of multiple entries, which are separated by a blank line. Every entry in the LDAP file contains the following attributes:

  • Entry ID: (optinal)
  • Distinguished Name: (Mandatory) The distinguished names are denoted by “dn”
  • Object classes: It indicates the types of attributes, schemas associated with the object class.
  • Attribute Types: It defines the list of attributes that have been used to customize the schema.

The general structure of LDIF format can be represented as:


Thus, some points that can be deduced about What is LDIF file & what it includes:

  • Every LDAP data interchange format file must be associated with distinguishing name entry(dn) & at least one object class define.
  • Any number of attributes can be included in a single LDIF entry.
  • Other object classes are optional to use.

Variations of LDIF File Address Book

The LDIF files, being a common interchange format for holding records can be widely used in different domains:

1. LDIF files are associated with LDAP servers, which maintain the structure of contacts in an organized manner. Each record is specified as a field that can be accessed to get detailed information about a particular record. Thus, LDIF files contains a detailed information corresponding to LDAP directory.
Users can choose to export records within LDAP servers by saving them into LDIF file format. One can save complete or required part of directory as LDIF files by the following steps:

Steps to Export LDIF files in LDAP server

  1. Under LDAP Server, go to Operations Navigator.
  2. Expand the Network option and then click on Server.
  3. Click on TCP/IP option.00
  4. Right click on the required directory and click on Tools.
  5. Now, click on Export File.

The generated LDIF files contains the records from the selected directory.

2. As stated earlier too, many email clients such as Thunderbird support to export Personal Address Books and collected address books as LDIF. Thus, while migrating to another email application users prefer to save the existing contacts as LDIF file format.

Steps to Export LDIF files in Thunderbird

  1. Login to Thunderbird account from which LDIF file needs to be created.
  2. Click on Tools >> Address Book.
  3. Select the address book(Personal Address Book/Collected Address).
  4. Click on Tools >> Export.
  5. Specify the name for LDIF file.
  6. Under Save As Type, choose LDIF format.
  7. Click on Save to export the selected address book as LDIF.

How to Access LDIF Files

The LDIF files cannot be directly opened by the operating system. If an attempt is made to access LDIF file, it generates an error message: “Cannot open this file”. Thus, users are suggested to go for LDIF Viewer tool, to access records from the selected LDIF file.

General Queries About What Is LDIF (Data Interchange File Format)

How many records can be saved in a single LDIF file?

The LDIF files do not have any limitation on the number of records to be saved. It contains a set of all the records from a particular directory.

Can I import LDIF files to Thunderbird?

Yes, you can import LDIF files to Thunderbird in the following steps:

  • Login to Thunderbird and click on Tools.
  • Browse Address Book >> Tools >> Import.
  • Under Select the material to import, choose Address Book.
  • Click on LDIF format and browse the LDIF files from your system.
  • Click on Open to extract LDIF file.
Does the integrity in LDIF file format remain intact while saving it?

Yes, the LDIF contains all the records with complete attributes.

I cannot access LDIF files to see its records. How can I access the records easily?

You must try LDIF converter tool, which lets you access all records from the LDIF files.


LDIF (LDAP Data Interchange Format) file format is an effective way to handle the records with complete integrity and security. All the records or contacts can be managed easily by using LDIF file. Moreover, the worry to export records from directory or email applications is also simplified by the use of LDIF file format. We have attempted our best to explain what is LDIF file format and how to utilize it to gain maximum advantage.