Outlook: How To Remove Auto Email Address Dropdowns

I’ve been a computer user and worked in the IT industry for 15 years so feel that I know my way around computers a fair bit.  But every now and then, I work out how to do something new, and am completely dumb founded at how stupid I have been for not working it out before!

Microsoft Outlook has a neat feature where when you enter an email address, it remembers it.  Then next time you start typing the same email address or name, it drops down a list of similar email addresses you’ve typed in the past so you can choose one.  When I first saw this I thought it was great and was impressed that they also listed the more user friendly conact name, not just the email address.

How wrong I was.  Over the years this feature has become a bugbear in my working life, as people I’ve kept in contact with have moved companies  and changed email providers etc, so sometimes when I started typing their name in the email field, I get a drop down list with many entries in, all saying the same name, but with no idea which is the correct email address behind the name.

Worse, if you ever mis-type an email address, Outlook remembers that too and you’ll be forever prompted to select an email address you know is wrong.  You can’t imagine how annoyed I’ve become by this once great feature.  So this morning, I went looking for an answer…


The solution is shockingly simple and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this myself.  In fact I’ve not felt this dim since I accidentally resized my TaskBar to cover half my screen whilst on the phone, and not knowing how I’d done it, I suffered it for a week before finally realising I could simply drag the edge back down!

So here’s the answer, prepare to be shocked:  When you start to type and the drop down appears, use the cursor keys to move up and down the list to the entry that’s old, and….. wait for it…. Press the Delete key!  That’s it.

See, dumb and dumber huh?  I’ve going to find a rock to crawl under and hide the rest of the day away.

{ 50 comments… add one }
  • chris 18 January 2008, 1:04 pm

    If you want to correct a typo in an e-mail address, select it as normal so that it appears in the “to” field, then right click on the name and select “outlook properties” from the menu. You can then change the display name and or e-mail address. Took me ages to work that out too.

    Not seen you around recently Col, are you still injured? Hope it heals soon if so.

  • Colin McNulty 18 January 2008, 1:30 pm

    Hi Chris, thanks for the tip.

    Yeah I’ve had a few weeks off, elbow’s been giving me more grief. Hope to make an appearance tomorrow morning though.

  • steve 5 May 2008, 10:21 pm

    This is simple but the bis… This works for all the email inserted type drop downs as in when you fill in a form or even as above start to type and it appears and I accidentally had typed in a wrong email very similar to my own and when ever this situation appears often dropped down and clicked on the wrong one this is soooo annoying and has been like this for ages.
    Thanks Steve

  • Dion 11 August 2008, 8:45 pm

    Thank you so much for the tip!!! It works!!!! :o)

    I got rid of some annoying email addresses that I’ve only sent to once and will never be emailing again!!!

    YOU RULE!!!!

  • Colin McNulty 14 August 2008, 5:22 pm

    Always happy to see an appreciative poster. 🙂

  • Mickie 26 August 2008, 8:40 am

    No f@#$ing way….shit this has caused me no amount of stress trying to find & correct or delete an incorrect address in the address book to no avail, and my wife keeps sending it to the wrong email and I have to resend all the time…..that was so easy, I’m going out to buy Microsoft Office for Dummies…..Thanks for the tip

  • Colin McNulty 26 August 2008, 8:42 pm

    Lol, I had a similar reaction Mickie.

  • Ginger 8 September 2008, 7:33 pm

    Wow was that easy!!! I was so perplexed when I was muttling through on my own.

    you r the best!

  • Jamie 18 September 2008, 1:03 pm

    Doh! That has been annoying me for AGES too!!

    Thanks :o)

  • Allen 23 October 2008, 9:48 pm

    As someone who has worked in building #1 on the MS campus in Redmond, I am shockingly horrified at how easy this fix is- especially in light of my search efforts for gleaning registry settings, etc. in order to fix this problem. Finally out of desperation, I googled up a link to this page.

    Wow. That easy. I laughed as the problem was fixed.

    Thanks for pointing out so eloquently, that sometimes even the smartest of us, miss the obvious, very simple answer.

  • Colin McNulty 24 October 2008, 7:03 am

    Believe me Allen, I know how you feel.

  • Lori 31 October 2008, 7:55 pm

    I can’t believe it was this simple!! I feel so stupid! I had been trying ot get rid of old e-mail addresses for months before I thought to do a quick search in Google, and luckily for me your article appeared. Thanks so much!!!

  • Richard 5 November 2008, 3:10 pm

    Can’t beleive it was this simple, i was considering editing the .nst database to fix the no longer used addresses.

    Gah, I feel so embarrassed!

    Thanks for the VERY useful tip!

  • Greg 15 December 2008, 5:12 pm

    Hey all. Question.

    I’m running outlook 2007 server in my environment and we also have a Cisco VoIP solution and each time there is a voice mail it sends the receiver a new message w/ the attached .wav file. My question is, is there a feature in outlook that can auto delete specific messages w/ keyword subjects, froms or even attachments within a given time frame.


  • Haresh 16 December 2008, 10:39 am

    this Topic really helps me

    good one

  • Brian 17 December 2008, 1:20 am

    Evidently this solution does not work when you run Outlook on Mac. I’ve tried merely deleting the address using the method you provided and it is not effective. The email address stays in my system regardless. My search for an answer to this vexing problem continues…

  • Brett H. Hilton 23 December 2008, 10:22 pm

    That might be, because Outlook for MAC is not outlook. It’s Entourage. Kind of a hybrid of Outlook and Outlook Express.

  • Brett H. Hilton 23 December 2008, 10:23 pm

    Oh and by the way, thanks for the fix for the email address deletion. Ive been in the field for over 11 years, and I gave up on this awhile ago. Thanks for easy fix! Happy Holidays all!

  • Cynthia Cheney 7 January 2009, 3:20 am

    I have just read your handy tip as to how to delete incorrect or unwanted email addresses! Fantastic! I have been dying to know how to do this for years. Well Done! Much appreciated!
    Happy New Year!

  • Kim 9 January 2009, 2:41 pm

    I have a user who just got a new computer–he wants to have all of those memorized email addresses come over to his new computer–anyway to transport that anyone knows?

  • Colin McNulty 11 January 2009, 9:15 pm

    Thanks for the thanks, it’s appreciated.

    No idea Kim, there’s bound to be a utility out there that does it.

  • My heart just stopped beating 4 February 2009, 6:30 pm

    Amazing. Truly amazing!

    Cheers, my friend…

  • Dot Chick 29 March 2009, 12:07 am

    I have another problem, A computer wiz (?) keyed in the incorrect ID for me in outlook express so now I’m unable to send a web page to anyone using my default addess. Do you know how to solve this problem?

  • Charles 2 April 2009, 6:34 pm

    To get those email addresses] to another PC you could just copy the Outlook.nk2 file from one PC to the other.
    Located in c:\documents and settings\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
    “username” = your actual user name.

  • siva 24 June 2009, 5:17 pm

    Hi, so simple, yet works so perfect. Thanks Colin!!!

  • Jeru 22 September 2009, 1:47 pm

    Hi Colin!
    I googled, I saw the link to your article and I’ve just read it! Like everyone else, I feel stupid and yet so incredibly happy you posted a solution for this problem!

    I have a question that somewhat related, maybe you or someone else here can help. I created a distribution list with all of my colleagues addresses. We have had some staff changes, so I updated and saved the distribution lists. The problem is, when I write a message, the old staff members are still included in the list, and the new staff members don’t appear. At first, I thought Outlook was remembering the old distribution list, since I used to use the drop down menu. Thanks to you, I know now how to delete a contact from the drop down menu, so I deleted it. I also deleted the distribution list in my Outlook contacts, and created a new one, albeit with the same “name.” I just sent a test email, and UGHHH the old staff members were still included and none of the new ones. Do you know why this is happening? How do I fix it? Should I just give the new distribution list a new name? Thanks in advance!

  • Colin McNulty 22 September 2009, 8:06 pm

    Glad I could help.

    > How do I fix it? Should I just give the new distribution list a new name?

    Give it a go and see how you do.

  • Rose 11 June 2010, 5:35 pm

    Hi Colin, The method you suggested did not work for me. Maybe it’s because I use AOL instead of Outlook or because I’m using Windows 7? Hope yo can help.

  • Bella 2 July 2010, 6:48 am

    Colin, you saved me from a lot of grief! I’ve been trying to remove the email add of an old boyfriend and now finally managed to do so, thanks to you. Now, I can move on and doesn’t have to be unnecessarily reminded every time I’m trying to email. Thanks heaps!

  • Colin McNulty 5 July 2010, 5:30 am

    Lol, nice one Bella. It hadn’t occurred to me that removing an old flame’s name from the list would be a driving factor, but it makes perfect sense. Glad you sorted it out.

  • Sanjay R 31 December 2010, 8:47 pm

    Thanks for tip Colin. I’ve been in IT for over a decade and never figured it out until I read your tip. The help from Microsoft Outlook is just a waste of time.

  • DD 21 April 2011, 6:44 pm

    Thanks Colin 🙂 .. I too have been struggling with this for long time !!

  • Edgar J. Ashley 15 September 2011, 10:08 pm

    Thank you very much. Now, I feel like a jerk!

  • Liz 21 September 2011, 3:23 pm

    You are a rock star. I have had this problem for years. I would keep emailing the wrong address and get it bounced back. Thanks so much!

  • Keren 14 February 2012, 5:44 pm

    THANKS!!!… it was driving my crazy…. especially when I had typos!.
    Congrats on your “Beer Belly Loss”, I lost 32lbs (in 4 mos) with natural supplements which gave me the edge i needed for portion control and to make the right choices and also included more unprocessed foods. I even make my own yogurt to include with Protein shakes! my goal was to maintain for 3 months before proceeding with another 30lbs to reach my Healthy Goal! I just started again the program (2/1/12)! Wish me luck!

  • Penny 16 April 2012, 4:41 am

    thank you for sharing thanks heaps you are gorgeous

  • vikas 18 April 2012, 4:37 pm

    Can it possible that a mail sent by me to an another person after some days automatically delete as set time or days by me.

  • vikas 18 April 2012, 4:41 pm

    Ignore privious query.
    Can it possible that a mail sent by me to an another person after some days email automatically delete from another person’s outlook as set time or days by me.

  • keister 19 July 2012, 4:51 am

    These ideas don’t seem to work when you hit the reply button and the misspelled email still pops up. I tried and tried but no go.

  • Stephanie 3 October 2012, 12:30 pm

    HAHAHA! Wait for it…LMAO:) Thank you for sharing. The first letter of half my email contacts is S, so is my ex’s. I haven’t emailed him for a year, and all day it picks him! So much nicer now:*

  • Lyndsey 5 October 2012, 9:34 pm

    YOU ARE A GENIUS. I’ve been struggling with this for soo long.

  • BRENDA 17 November 2012, 3:03 pm

    I cannot believe how easy that was to fix. It’s been driving me crazy. I looked at other people’s ideas to fix it which involved a much harder process than this. I am glad I kept looking and found your note. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

  • Hasnain 20 April 2013, 7:31 am

    I have a problem that is exactly the opposite 🙁

    I have lost the drop down option completely and it only remembers it for the time I am logged in to Outlook. I constaantly have to go to my directory to locate the correct e-mail address which Outlook will remember for as long as I have it open – If I close outlook and start again the hsitory of addresses is all lost and I am back to the directory 🙁

    Can anyone help at all PLEASE

  • PReinie 9 June 2015, 4:20 pm

    I know this is an old thread, but Hasnain, are you using Outlook via Exchange server? If so, for OL 2007, go to Tools->AddressBook (Ctrl+Shift+B) then Tools->Options and in the lower window move Contacts above Global Address List. OL will then look in your contacts before the GAL.

  • jim 25 December 2015, 7:59 pm

    tried to remove my old email addresses from appearing every time i log in as you suggested-failed miserably.if you could give further suggestions i would greatly appreciate it.thank you,by the way it will have to be simple as i’m barely literate with comp.knowledge

  • jan 28 February 2016, 5:15 pm

    this doesn’t work I still have them, what now?

  • Brig 1 30 March 2016, 9:39 pm

    This did not work for me. I tried over and over again, and the old address is still coming up. Outlook insist on using this address even when I hit reply which is a toatally different address.Oddly, when I send out group message it uses the correct address. When I scroll down and hit delete, it disappears temporarily but comes back when I start to type in address or reply.

    I also tried clearing my history; that didn’t work either.

  • Diana Arezzo 1 April 2017, 1:41 pm

    This does not work for Outlook for Mac. Here is how to do it on a Mac.
    Make sure that the correct address (and only the correct address) in listed in your Contacts/Address book. Open Outlook. Go to “Preferences.” Go to “Contacts.”
    Go to “E-mail address verification” and check “Check addresses of recipients before sending…”
    Now, the drop down pick menu will have an X to the right of addresses that are not in your contacts for that name, as well as beside listings that are not in your contacts at all. If you click on the X, that suggestion will no longer appear in the drop down.

  • Theresa 12 December 2017, 2:40 pm

    I’ve been trying to figure this out for a long time and it was such an easy solution. Will save me from a lot of headaches in the future so I don’t send something to an incorrect email again.

  • egb 10 October 2019, 3:38 pm

    Incredibly this worked! Thank you, thank you. I did exactly as you instructed and now I’m free!
    It was so easy. Why did we make it so hard?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.