Outlook Contact & Address Book Options

Last reviewed on December 20, 2012   —  74 comments

Applies to Microsoft Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003 and under

Contact and Address book settings are found in three locations in Outlook. These settings control the search order of the address books (when Outlook needs to resolve the addresses) as well as the display in the address book when you click to To button.

One area which leaves many users confused is where the Outlook address book gets the display names from. As seen in the screenshot below, Contact’s File as field is used in the Name field of the address book and the email display name (Display as) field is used for the Display name field. If a contact does not have an electronic address, they will not be listed in the address book.

Where the address book entries come from

Note that when you change the Address book display format used in the Name column, the new format is not displayed in the Address book until you restart Outlook.

To remove the email address from the Display as/Display Name field, see Bulk Change Email Display Name Format.

Address Book

Address book options

In the Address Book's (Ctrl+Shift+B) Tools, Options dialog, you'll find the options to select which address book is shown first when you click To, where your personal addresses are kept, and the order auto-resolution searches your address books.

Outlook 2010 Address book optionsThe dialog is slightly different in Outlook 2010, due to the new feature where Outlook chooses the sending account based on the folders you are viewing.

You can choose to start with the Global Address list (Exchange server accounts only), the Contacts folder, or Custom order. If you maintain one contacts folder for all accounts, the Custom order is best, but it can be confusing if you have separate address books for each account type.

Contact Options (in Options dialog)

Contact book options

In Tools, Options, Contact Options you can control the file as format and the default name order. In Outlook 2010, this dialog is at File, Options, Contacts.

The default name order tells Outlook that "Mary Smith" is in first name last name format. If you prefer to enter names in last name first name format, without using commas ("Smith Mary"), this is the setting you'll need to change.

When Outlook files names in "Mary, Smith" format, check your default name order setting. Changing this setting will not change existing contacts, it applies only to new contacts.

Restart Outlook to insure changes made here to take effect.

Please note that changing this does not change existing contacts, it applies only to new contacts. You need to edit existing contacts, or use the macro at Bulk Change File As Format for Contacts or, if a number of contacts have the first and last names in the wrong fields, see Macro to Swap First and Last Name Fields.

Account settings, Address Book settings

Directory and Address book settings are found in Account Settings (Tools menu in older versions or File tab in Outlook 2010). This controls the sort order you see when you click the To button or view the address book. Double click on the address book or select it and click Change. Restart Outlook for changes here to apply to Outlook’s Address Book.

Address book settings

If your contacts use different FileAs formats, we have a macro you can use to change them to a universal format at Bulk Change File As Format for Contacts.

Click to view Video Tutorial:

About Diane Poremsky

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.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlook forums by Slipstick.com.

74 responses to “Outlook Contact & Address Book Options”

  1. M P Wideman

    Exactly the answer to the question I had. On transfer from one computer to another the names started to be listed by first instead of last. You took me right to the solution. Thank you.

  2. Wayne Shaddock

    Hi Diane,

    I found your reply to a question about changing the default address book in Word 2010 which led to this article which, however, doesn't mention how to get the default in Word to change. I have successfully configured Outlook to bring up the desired default, but it had no effect in Word|Mailings|Labels. Any suggestions?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      It's working here - when the desired one is selected in the drop down at the bottom that says "Show this address book first" - it works in Word. You may need to close and reopen Word for it to kick in.

  3. Bob roe

    Somehow iCloud ate my Outlook addresses

    Is there a recovery?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Is the Icloud in your folder list? The contacts should be in the icloud contacts folder.

  4. Joe Scanlon

    Most of the info was a real help organizing my Address Book but i still show 15 different items or contact groups in the pull down menu when i click the To button.
    Most of these items are not one of my contact folders, like "Offline global address list".
    All i really want to see is two or three groups.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Unfortunately, You can't remove those - they are added by the Exchange account. Sorry.

  5. Bob Redwitz

    In Outlook 2010 contact view I have always used the full name column for my contacts. Recently the full name of all my contacts became the company name. If I change the view to First Name and Last Name columns it shows First Name and Last name. If I revert back to Full Name I get the company name again. Also if in list mode and I click on a contact in list mode and pull up the contact form, at the bottom of my screen it shows the full name but not in the contact form.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Which view are you using? It sounds like the view was changed and company moved ahead of full name.

  6. John Tate

    I have installed iCloud in Outlook 2013 and works fine under Windows 7.
    However I have noticed that when creating an email, the entries in the standard address book are empty as these have all been transferred to the iCloud address book.
    While I have copied all the addresses back to the standard Outlook address book, how do I make the iCloud address the default address book for emails so I have only one place to add/update addresses?
    Thanks for your help

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You need to change the order in the address book - See Syncing iCloud contacts for screenshots and instructions.

  7. John Tate

    Thanks for your feedback.
    Your link to change the order in the address book is related to Outlook 2010.
    However Outlook 2013 does not have the same Tools Option but rather the Account Settings.
    How do I do this in Outlook 2013?
    Also I just want to confirm that I cannot make my email addressbook default to the iCloud contacts. If this is the case then this seems to be a serious limitation of Outlook as the whole idea is to have one address book to choose from.
    Thanks again.

  8. John Tate

    Found it.
    On the People Tab, move the iCloud contacts to the My Contacts.
    Select the Folder tab.
    Select the iCloud contacts and then select Folder Properties.
    Select Outlook Address book and click "Show this folder as an email address book". The name of the address book should be change another name e.g. iCloud.
    Then when an email is composed the iCloud address book can be selected from the Address book icon.


  9. Lisa Kruse

    Help! I have two addresses filed on one contact form for some contacts, one ranked as primary ("Email 1") and one secondary ("Email 2") in Outlook 2010.
    Occasionally I need to use the secondary email, say when someone is out of the office. If I enter the secondary address, either automatically by using the address book look-up menu or manually by typing, Outlook always changes it back to the primary address. I cannot find the setting to dis-enable that function. Can you tell me what setting to change?

    Thank you.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      there isn't a setting to disable it, but if you select it from the Address book, it should use the selected address. Try deleting the autocomplete cache entry for the person start typing their address, select it when it comes up and press Delete).

  10. Adrienne Johnson

    I need to know how you can set up your contacts with adding in company title with the email address so if you send an email it will have your title to anyone that you send it to.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You'll need to add the title to the email display name field. If you are using Exchange server, the title needs to be added to the display name in the GAL as that is where Outlook gets it from.

  11. Donna Rummery

    Is there any way to sort the 'Display Name" when sending an email as I sort by surname in my contacts which I want to keep, but when sending emails I use their first name.

    Any light you can shed on this issue would be GREATLY appreciated!!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      What version of Outlook? Where do you want to see the sorting - in the To field, in the address book dialog?

  12. Donna Rummery

    Outlook 2010. When I click on "New Email" and then I click on "To" it displays all the contacts. This is where I want to sort - particularly the "Display Name" field.

    Many thanks for getting back to me.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      The only option there is sort by first last or by your contact's file as field. You can change the setting in File, Account Settings, Address book tab. Double click on the address book entry to open it.

  13. Gabrielle Gagnon

    I'm very grateful to you for writing these articles. After spending all morning searching Outlook Developer Help, I found a workable answer to my problem here. A perfect solution for us, though, would have been to use VBA code to set the order of the address lists to search when resolving names. Let me explain. We have a program that sends out alerts to subscribers whenever someone on a watch list books time on a resource calendar, and it broke when one of our subscribers added a few mail drops for documents that began with his user name to the Global Exchange address book (e.g., Doe, John doc type 1; Doe, John doc type 2, etc.). Outlook was unable to resolve his user name so it was unable to send out his alerts. When we wrote the program, we assumed user names would be unique, but apparently Outlook doesn't look at the full entry when resolving names. Is there a way to programmatically tell Outlook to search "All Users" first, "All Groups" second, and finally the Global Exchange address list when resolving names?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I went to the programming experts -

      I don’t think you can do that in OOM.
      On the MAPI level, you can use IAddrbook::GetSearchPath / SetSearchPath
      In Redemption, you can use RDOSession.AddressBook.SearchPath ( http://www.dimastr.com/redemption/RDOAddressBookSearchPath.htm)

  14. Gabrielle Gagnon

    Thanks for the prompt response. We don't have Redemption, and I haven't worked on the direct MAPI level. Is that accessed via the Property Accessor in the Outlook Object Model? We have another issue with those alerts -- when someone cancels an appointment, we can't include specific appointment information because the appointment no longer exists on the calendar, and although the information appears in the original meeting invitation, we can't access it via the OOM; we've had to add the invitation as an attachment to the alert. Someone told me we could use the Property Accessor to get it. Why didn't Microsoft expose these things in the OOM directly?

  15. JP Shore

    I have imported my address book from Lotus Notes, via a CSV file, into Outlook 2007. After lots of false starts, it's finally in place. In the "Contacts" folder, each name has a single entry. However, in the Address Book, each name has a duplicate entry. So I have to choose between two duplicate e-mail addresses for each name I try to resolve when sending an e-mail. How did this happen, and any way to fix it other than delete the dupes, one at a time (several hundred)?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Are the email addresses duplicated? It sounds like you are seeing email1 and email2 fields - i'm not sure why the import would add the same address to both fields. Switch to a list view in Contacts and see if the email1 and email2 addresses are identical for all. If so, i can whip up a macro to delete email2.

      Get the macro from bulk-change-outlook-contacts-file-as-format and replace the with ojbcontact block with the following.

      With objContact
      ' Uncomment the strFileAs line for the desired format
      If .Email2Address = .Email1Address Then
      .Email2Address = ""
      End If
      End With

  16. Nick

    Diane, you seem to be a godsend. But Outlook 2013 may defeat even you in getting consistency in last name first (or vice versa) when synching via Outlook.com. I have set both Outlook.com and Outlook 2013 to last name first - and this works if I search either program under People. But if I use the Address Book tab in Outlook 2013 some of the contacts stick as first name last - and can't be changed!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Check in File, Account Settings, Address book tab. Double click on Outlook Address book. Is it set to use File as or First last? That is one factor in how names display in outlook's address book.

  17. Nick

    It just proves you ARE a godsend! I had to exit Outlook and reopen it for the change to take effect but your instructions work like a dream. I'd trawled through dozens of Microsoft help and community pages and couldn't find the answer. How come it takes you - rather than the mighty Microsoft - to make this so easy? Anyway, many, many thanks!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You're welcome!

  18. Nick

    Actually I have another Outlook 2013 challenge. I have created a global address list and made it my default contacts folder. (In fact it is the only address book I want.) However whenever I create a new contact it seems to disappear. It actually saves in Outlook's Contacts data file and, if I remember, I have to manually move it to my chosen contacts list. Can you advise on how I get all my new contacts to save into the same list? Even better, can i delete the Outlook Data File and the "Contacts (This computer only)" folders altogether?
    Many thanks.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      What type of email account do you use? With Outlook 2013, you don't need a local pst file, but its usually a good idea if you have imap accounts. Where is the global address list you created, stored?

  19. Udo

    is there a way to sort the outlook 2010 address book by the E-Mail Address? all (hundreds) of my contacts had to be imported from web mail and these users do not necessarily have Names (First or Last) so i'd like to sort by email address to find them quicker!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      In the Address book, no. You can sort by the address field in the Contacts folder.

  20. Nick

    Yes, I do use IMAP. I also have a pst file but that's only for archive. The global address list is stored in outlook.com with Exchange ActiveSync.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Do you have folders in the imap data file labeled 'this computer only'? Or is the rogue contacts folder in the archive pst?

  21. Nick

    if I select the People tab (Outlook 2013) the left-hand column headed My Contacts has 4 entries. The 1st is Contacts - email address where I store my contacts through IMAP. The 2nd says "Contacts - This computer only". This is where any new contact gets saved by default and is thus orphaned from the main list. (I have to check it periodically and manually move data to the 1st Contacts folder.) The 3rd is labelled "Suggested contacts" and the 4th is "Contacts - Outlook Data File".
    if I create a new contact from Mail (using Address Book, File, New entry...) the default save is "Contacts - This computer only".

    1. Diane Poremsky

      This computer only folder sounds liek an imap account and it sounds like it is set as the default data file in File, Account Settings, Data File tab. Set a different data file as default and it should fix your problem.

  22. Jeff

    Diane, do you know if there is a GPO/GPP setting to force the GAL to appear first when opening the address book in Outlook 2013, rather than the default setting of "Choose Automatically"?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I thought so, but i can't find it in the GPO. It's stored in the profile - which usually means its not in the GPO -

      These two were set when i changed it -
      000b3d1c: 01 00 <== may be a 'dirty' flag, doesn't seem to change once set.
      00033d1b: 02 00 00 00 <== 01 00 00 00 is GAL option at the top of the list. 00 00 00 00 is selecting from the list of address books, but which book you select isnt stored in the registry.

  23. Glenn Twitchell

    I have two Hotmail addresses and I have solved a multitude of problems caused by the change to Outlook but I am now stumped.Though I have managed to get both of my email addresses and their folders to display when I open Outlook I ended up with divided address books, one for each address. When I attempt to send an email from one address it will not find the recipient's address unless it is in that particular email account's address book. How do I sync or merge the address books?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You can't merge them but they should work in either email account - that's actually a request from a lot of people, but its never worked like that. I'll see if i can repro.

  24. Sally Bounds

    I created a new group, which shows up under my person contacts in my address book. But I want to make the group list available to anyone in the organization. How do I move it to a public address book?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Is the public address book in the global address list or in a public (or shared) folder? If it's in the GAL, you need the correct permissions to edit the GAL or someone will need to create the group for you. If you are using a public folder, move or copy the Group to the folder. If you picked contacts from your folder to make the list, you'll either need to copy the contacts too, or save the group as a text file (use forward to internet to create the text file) then create a group in the public folders by pasting the names and addresses in the Member field of a new contact group.

  25. Singh


    is there any way to know that which person had edit or made any changes to a mail in a globally shared folder in outlook.

    anyone know please help!!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You can add the Changed By field to the view but if that field is not available or does not contain data, then no. Exchange 2013 includes better tracking so if you are on an Exchange 2013 server, the admin may have more information.

  26. Kaye Weiss

    I found just what I was looking for, easily and instructions were clear. Thank you so much.

  27. connie

    is there a way to consolidate address books? I somehow wound up with 2 outlooks and 2 mobiles, and now another popped up. any suggestions?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You can copy contacts from one contacts folder to another but you might not be able to remove the extra folders. It depends why the folder is there. If you don't use any mobile services, you can remove the mobile address book in Account Settings, Address Books.

  28. TM

    Diane - Do you know of a way to add fields shown in the Address Book? I need to be able to see the Job Title for my contacts, but I cannot figure out a way to customize the Address Book views to add additional columns. Are you aware of a utility that allows this or some other work-a-round?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      The address can't be customized, sorry.

  29. alston28

    I have Outlook 2007, and I have a ton of contacts, all nicely categorized. I went to create a Distribution List. When I tried to select names to add, it brought up my global address book and there are no names in it. I use the Microsoft Exchange Server, to facilitate syncing of email, calendar, contacts, tasks and notes between my pc and iphone. What gives? Why aren't my contacts listed in my global address book? Thanks.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      The global address book is the list of other people on your exchange server, you need to select your contacts folder from the drop-down.

      You can set your contacts folder to be the default in that address book. Open the address book, CTRL + shift + A, then go to tools, options and select the contacts folder that you want to show first, from the menu at the bottom of the screen.

  30. Gene Beatty

    No dice. Didn't work. Still nothing listed. Any other suggestions? Thanks.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      So in this dialog is Contacts listed in the Show address list at the top? That will always open the Address book dialog with contacts as the default.
      Address book options

  31. Karla

    My Outlooks is saying a contact does not have an email address when it does - why would this be?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      where are you getting this message? its possible the address is not resolved therefore not recognizable as an address.

  32. Karla

    It is when I try to send an email to a category - there are 100 in the category but only 15 email addresses come across with the message that some do not have an email address

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Did you import the contacts? We're seen issues with the addresses not being resolved when importing contacts and this would cause the failure you see. If you open one of the other contacts (that Outlook says don't have an address) and reenter the address, does the address work?

  33. Liz Zoob

    You seem so knowledgeable! I hope you can help me figure out this annoying Outlook quirk. I use an iPhone and I sync it with Outlook 2007. If I add a contact on my iPhone and then sync, the contact's email address always defaults to E-mail 2 or even E-mail 3, meaning it is not displayed in Outlook unless I open the contact's details and manually open the E-mail 2 category. So I have a few questions: Why?!! Can I change this behavior on Outlook's part in some setting? and Can I bulk transfer all the email addresses from E-mail 2 to E-mail?

    I have been manually correcting this little by little by cutting the data in E-mail 2 and pasting it into E-mail, but would like it to stop happening in the first place.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      How are you syncing - iCloud, itunes, exchange active sync with outlook.com or exchange, other software? You can add email2 and email3 fields to your view - it won't fix the problem, but will make it less annoying until the solution is discovered.

  34. Liz Zoob

    Thanks for your reply. I sync using iTunes. I do have ways of working around this but still find it odd that iTunes automatically sends the single email to Email 2.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Yeah, it *shouldn't* do that - i will try to repro and see if i can figure out why.

  35. Nhi Ha

    We have recently created a public folder for our shared contact list for our company. Public folder and address book are synced, however when we enter the contact in public folders, the contact has all the one contacts information as one file, however when we go to the shared contact list in the address book, the one contact would seem to get split into 2 different contact. One would have the primary number and the other would have the secondary number. This happens as well sometimes with the 2 email addresses. Is there a way to fix this?

  36. Corrie Simkin-Brocato

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and promptly responding to our questions! Maybe you can help me :) In Outlook 2013, I am unable to populate search results to include the "File As" names. For instance, I have Mary Smith in my contacts. Her File As name is "John Doe Admin." When I search "Doe", only John Doe appears and not Mary Smith. This always worked for me, until I upgraded to MS2013. I can't find an answer for this anywhere. Any ideas??

  37. Jerome H Horwitz

    Outlook 2010, stand-alone Windows 7 system: About 325 contacts for one "company" (actually a high school class from long ago) divided into four contact groups due to Verizon limiting addresses to 100 per message. Three groups are fine; the fourth group has one errant address--for this address only, the "Name" in the group isn't just the name, but it also includes the E-mail address thereby matching the "Display as" field. I've been "beating the bushes", including deleting the contact and entering it from scratch. Ideas, please?

  38. Jerome H Horwitz

    Thanks for the quick reply. Took me a couple of minutes to learn how to do what you suggested, but "no joy in Mudville". I first removed the contact itself from the auto complete list.

    When that didn't work, I did the same with the group. In that mix, I deleted the contact from the group (again), closed and saved the group, reopened it, and added the contact back in.

    One observation: In the Group, looking at the list of contacts, this one contact is unique in another respect: Instead of its icon looking like a rolodex card with the notches at the bottom, it is a perfect rectangle with what appears to be the image of a photo on the left side. None of the other contacts have that and there is no photo in this contact. Hmmm, . . .

    One thing I haven't done is closed and restarted Outlook, nor have I shut down and restarted the computer since this showed up last night (because I have a number of other things going on that I didn't want to interrupt until I got to a good break point with them).

    Thanks again!

  39. Jerome H Horwitz

    UPDATE: I tried creating a new contact and adding that to the group. That contact duplicated the behavior of the original problem contact. I note that the rest of my contacts were all exported from Windows Mail (under Vista) and imported into Outlook.

    I also created a new message using this group (not sent, of course) and expanded the group in the "To:" box, selected them all, copied them into a text editor, and searched the results for the original errant contact. Guess what! It wasn't there at all. So, I suspect it is actually the contact itself, but how do I determine what's wrong with it?

    Thanks again!


  40. Jerome H Horwitz

    UPDATE #2: Found what appears to be a cure: The problem seems to be that not all obvious ways to add a contact to a group work properly!

    What I found was, from within the group, Contact Group tab, click Add Members and select From Outlook Contacts.

    The Select Members: Contacts dialog opens. At the bottom, do NOT use the Members button--instead enter the "Display As" name (with E-mail address in parentheses) and press OK.

    It now shows properly in the group, including the icon being the "rolodex" card image and it shows up in the addresses when mail is created to the group.

    Of course, testing is limited so far and I don't know what other issues are lurking to bite you know where!

    Oomments invited and thanks for the help!


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