Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Outlook tries to be helpful when you begin typing an email address by suggesting possibilities. But where those suggestions come from is not simple.
Where do Outlook's auto-complete suggestions come from?
Outlook's auto-complete feature attempts to be helpful by suggesting email names that are similar to what you're typing. A couple of keystrokes, an auto-complete suggestion, and you don't have to type the entire email name every time. Seems both simple and handy.
Unfortunately it's not quite simple, and it can be both handy and frustrating because email names you expect to be present aren't, and those that you never want to look at again keep popping up.
A little bit of understanding and a few tips will go a long way to making this feature more helpful.
To answer the question, the auto-complete suggestions come from something called the nickname list and your address book. Usually.
The nickname list is something that Outlook builds over time as you send and receive email. Essentially it collects all the email addresses that you've sent email to as they've appeared in the To, Cc or Bcc fields. That's Outlook's first source of auto-complete suggestions.
Outlook also appears to sometimes take suggestions from your address book. It's unclear exactly when it decides to, or rather when it decides not to. It might be related to how many suggestions it was able to find in the nickname list. Regardless, what's important is that entries in your address book are not always presented.
It's frustrating to type the first few characters of someone's name knowing that they're in your address book, but they don't show.
There is a solution.
Ctrl+K is a shortcut for the "Check Names" button, also on the toolbar when you're composing a message. Check names will look at the characters you've typed so far and compare them to your address book entries. If there's only one match it completes the entry. If there's more than one match then it presents a list for you to choose from. And the list will not include items from the nickname list. But the name you just entered will get added to the nickname list so the next time you use it, it should be there.
Personally, I think it's more confusing than it needs to be. But there it is.
By the way, deleting an address from the nickname list is also very easy: when you see it being suggested use the up or down arrow keys to highlight it, and then press delete.
The nickname list that Outlook maintains can occasionally become corrupt. To repair it or to reset it completely Microsoft has provided this knowledgebase article.
Comments on this entry are closed.
If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.
If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.