Bulk Change Email Display Name Format

Last reviewed on May 22, 2013

The default email display name in the address book used to be "Full Name (Email1)", "Full Name (Email2)", "Full Name (Email3)" but beginning with Outlook 2002, it was changed to "Full Name (email address)". If you upgraded from an earlier version of Outlook, your contacts may use a mix of display name formats. The code below will allow you to easily convert all contacts to a uniform format or remove the address for security reasons.

To change the File as format on existing contacts, see Bulk Change File As Format for Contacts. Our third "Bulk change Contacts" VBA sample is at Bulk Move Phone Numbers to a Different Phone Field.

The Name column (1) is controlled by the Address book setting. Column 2, the email Display Name, defaults to Full Name (email address) format. The code on this page will change this field.

Address book display names

To change the Name column (1) in Outlook 2007, the options for the Name column format is at Tools, Account Settings, Address book Tab, double click on the Outlook Address book and choose between Full name or File as format. In Outlook 2010, you'll start at File, Account Settings, Address book Tab, double click on the Outlook Address book. In Outlook 2003 or 2002, go to Tools, Email Accounts, View or Change existing directories or address books. Select Outlook Address Book and click Change to view or change the default for new contacts.

Note that when you edit a contact's email address, the display name is rewritten using Outlook's default format. You'll need to edit it before saving the contact.

While you can't change the default settings for the Display Name field (it always uses 'Full name (address)' format), you can use VBA to change your contacts so they all use the same format. Your choices are limited to Full name, Last First, FileAs, and Company. You can include the email address by adding this code to the format code: & " (" & .Email1Address & ")".

Default email display name format:
Email display name field on a contact

After running the VBA code below:
A contact after running the VBA code

When you click the To button, the entry in the Address book will now look like this:
Outlook 2010's address book, after running the VBA

Not up to working with VBA code? See Tools for tools that can make this change.

Two formats in the code sample below are less than useful as Display name formats:

strFileAs = .CompanyName & " " & .FullName & " (" & .Email1Address & ")"

Results in a leading space if the Contact does not have a Company listed.

'strFileAs = .FileAs

Uses only the Company name in the display name when the FileAs format is "Company name (Fullname)".

Note: I updated the code below to check for email addresses. If an address does not exist, the contact is skipped.

Outlook Hotmail Connector users should note that Hotmail requires the default 'full name (address)' format. As of Outlook Hotmail Connector 14.1, if you change the email display name in Outlook, the next sync will change it back to this format.

VBA Code to Change the Email Display Name

Press Alt+F11 to open the VBA editor then copy and paste into ThisOutlookSession. Uncomment the strFileAs line that uses the format you desire before running it.

This code was tested with Outlook 2010, 2007, and 2003. (May trigger the Email security prompts in Outlook 2003.)

If you have multiple contacts folders, ChangeEmailDisplayName_SelectedContacts will change the selected contacts. It checks for an email address (If .Email1Address <> "" Then) and only updates contacts with email addresses.

Public Sub ChangeEmailDisplayName()
    Dim objOL As Outlook.Application
    Dim objNS As Outlook.NameSpace
    Dim objContact As Outlook.ContactItem
    Dim objItems As Outlook.Items
    Dim objContactsFolder As Outlook.MAPIFolder
    Dim obj As Object
    Dim strFirstName As String
    Dim strLastName As String
    Dim strFileAs As String

    On Error Resume Next

    Set objOL = CreateObject("Outlook.Application")
    Set objNS = objOL.GetNamespace("MAPI")
    Set objContactsFolder = objNS.GetDefaultFolder(olFolderContacts)
    Set objItems = objContactsFolder.Items

    For Each obj In objItems
        'Test for contact and not distribution list
        If obj.Class = olContact Then
            Set objContact = obj

          With objContact
          If .Email1Address <>"" Then
            ' Uncomment the  strFileAs line for the desired format
            ' Add the email address to any string using
            ' the following code:
            ' & " (" & .Email1Address & ")"
             'Firstname Lastname (email address) format
             ' strFileAs = .FullName & " (" & .Email1Address & ")"
             'Lastname, Firstname format
              strFileAs = .LastNameAndFirstName
             'Company name (email address) format
             ' strFileAs = .CompanyName & " (" & .Email1Address & ")"
             'Comapany Firstname Lastname (email address) format
             'the display name will have a leading space if
             'the contact doesn't have a company name
             'strFileAs = .CompanyName & " " & .FullName & " (" & .Email1Address & ")"

             'File As format
             'Does not support Company (Fullname) format. 
             'Only Company name is used in the display name
             'strFileAs = .FileAs
             .Email1DisplayName= strFileAs

           End If
          End With
        End If


    Set objOL = Nothing
    Set objNS = Nothing
    Set obj = Nothing
    Set objContact = Nothing
    Set objItems = Nothing
    Set objContactsFolder = Nothing
End Sub


ContactGenie Toolkit

ContactGenie Toolkit - 28 functions for Outlook 2000-2010 enabling changes to individual standard and custom fields; standardization for Message Class, CompanyName, FileAs, EmailDisplayAs, Fullname, and other fields; contact and NK2 info export; export contacts to CSV file; global changes for CompanyName, Company Address, Email and Web addresses. Preview/override any pending changes. Add Birthday/Anniversary/user-defined dates to default calendar. Personal Distribution Group management functions and more.

More Information

This code sample works on the Display name for the default email address (Email1) but can easily be changed to work with Email2 or Email3.

This code sample was created from Change Contact's File As format

Security consideration, from a discussion in TechNet forums:

Using the File As... format without (email address) displayed, when people forward emails, messages will not contain the email address visible for others, just the display name, or not accessible for worms or other user's mailbox attackers.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

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