Removing unwanted names from Outlook’s "To…" line

Have you ever accidentally sent an e-mail to the wrong person because Outlook automatically inserted a name you didn’t want in the “To…” line of your message? If so, then this tip is for you.

Where do those names come from, anyway?
Outlook automatically keeps track of the addresses you enter in the To… CC…, and BCC… lines of your messages. When you begin a new message, Outlook will check the list of names it has stored and will give you a list to choose from, based on the letters you’ve entered. Figure 1 shows the list I get when I type in “j” then “a” in the “To…” line of my message.

Figure 1: List of name suggestions

Typing just “j” gave me a list of everyone whose name began with “j.” The more of the name I type, the more Outlook refines the list. If I typed in “jane” the list would begin with Jane Dow. The Outlook feature that does this for me is called AutoComplete.

This is great unless I happen to have sent mail to someone one time, but don’t need to have them permanently stored in the list. A great example might be if I’d ever sent mail to Bill Gates. (I don’t think I have, actually.) But if I did, and didn’t want to accidentally do it again, I could simply remove Bill from my automatic “To…” list.

Removing a name
When you see someone you’d like to remove from the list of names, just use the Down Arrow key on your keyboard to move down to the name. When you’ve got it selected, as I’ve got Jason McCue’s name selected here, just press the Delete key on your keyboard. Jason won’t show up in the list again in the future. (Sorry Jason….)


Figure 2: Use down arrow key to select name to delete

Now that you know how to remove names you don’t need from your Outlook e-mail list, how can you help make sure it gets read? Our “Review your e-mail before you send it” article is a great place to start.

Stop automatic name suggestions
If you’d rather turn AutoComplete off all together, you can do so by following these steps, illustrated in Figures 3-5 below:

1. In Outlook, on the Tools menu click Options. In the Options dialog box, in the Preferences tab, click E-Mail Options.
2. In the E-Mail Options dialog box, click Advanced E-mail Options.
3. In the Advanced E-mail options dialog box, in the When sending a message section, select or deselect the Suggest Names While. Completing To, Cc, And Bcc Fields option to turn AutoComplete on or off, respectively.

Figure 3: Select Outlook E-mail Options

Figure 4: Select Advanced E-Mail Options

Figure 5: Turn “Suggest names…” on or off

Other Office applications will also automatically finish entering information for you as well, if you have the feature enabled. For example, in Excel if you begin typing text in a cell and the first letters match the text you’ve already entered in another cell, Excel will supply the rest of the text for you.  I did a search on “autocomplete” in Office Online, and the results are a great place to start learning about how the automated data entry features in Office can help you.

—Robbin Young

Comments (8)

  1. Darla Hamlin says:

    Thank you. I have been wanting to know how to remove names off the list for a long time.

  2. Jenni from The National Trust says:

    Thank you so much for showing me this – it’s absoutely gr8! Funny how the littlest of tips makes all the difference. I’m so impressed. Thanks again – more where that came from please!!! I’ll keep checking this site out from now on. cheers Jenni

  3. Wayne says:

    Thank you very very much… I always thought it was a problem with user accounts in AD, since some names are ex-users. It turns out so simple but no one in the company knew how to fix it. Thanks again. Wayne.

  4. raj says:

    Thanks a lot for this tip. I had been trying to remove those names for a long time and finally did it with your help.


  5. Peter Davies says:

    Great. I had just this problem and this info solved it (could not find the list in the registry etc.). Thank you

  6. Tom says:

    Thanks, it’s been a pain for awhile…no longer!

  7. Chris C says:

    Thanks for the tip…is there a way to do this in bulk?  Over time my list has greatly built up…I have about 50 email addresses under "A" alone, some are keepers and some are trash.  It would be nice to pull up a whole list and multi-select for delete.

  8. f.kahane says:

    HOw can I access the names in the auto store section of my computer?