Contacts are missing when you click the To button

Last reviewed on May 26, 2013

If you have Contacts in Microsoft Outlook's Contacts folder but they are not accessible when you click on the To button, check these settings:

Are you using the "wrong" view?

Is Name Only selected at the top of the Address book dialog? When More Columns is selected as the Search option, the address book will only display names if you search.

Is Name only selected?

Is the Contact's folder enabled as an Address Book?

Enable contacts as an address book

Make sure the Contact folder is enabled as an email address book.

To do this, right-click the Contacts folder, choose Properties then Outlook Address Book.

Is the box to Show this folder as an email address book checked?

If this is grayed out...

...and you use Outlook 2003: Go to Tools | Email Accounts, choose View or change existing directories or address book. Is the Outlook Address Book present? If it isn't listed, add it and close and restart Outlook. If it is listed, then remove it and close then restart Outlook and repeat these steps to add it.

If you are using Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010, or Outlook 2013 and the checkbox is grayed, you'll need to remove the email account and re-add it or make a new profile as you can't remove the Outlook Address Book service in these versions.

Remove Address book (Outlook 2003 and older)

Go to Tools, Email Accounts, choose View or change existing directories or address book.

Outlook 2003 tools, accounts dialog

Is the Outlook Address Book listed?

If it isn't listed, click the Add button (Button 2 in second screenshot) to add it. Close and restart Outlook.

If it is listed, then remove the Address book by selecting it then pressing Remove (Button 1 in screenshot in second screenshot). Close Outlook and restart. Go back to this dialog and Add the Outlook Address book service (Button 2 in screenshot).

Accounts in Outlook 2010

Remove Account (Outlook 2007/2010/2013)

In Outlook 2007, 2010 and 2013, the address book service isn't removable. You need to either remove your account and re-create it or make a new profile.

In many cases its better to make a new profile because a missing address book service means the profile is corrupt. This is especially true if you used Windows Easy Transfer to move the profile from one computer to another. Taking the time to make a new profile now may save you a lot of time in the future.

Configure Address books in Outlook 2010

Go to Account settings, Email tab and select the account. Click Remove. Click Add and recreate the account.

Video Tutorial: How to create a new profile in Outlook

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.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

10 responses to “Contacts are missing when you click the To button”

  1. garrick youngberg


    The answer about having to delete and recreate your profile to fix the lost addresses is EXACTLY what I was trying to AVOID!!! Good ol microsoft...
    Again FAIL!!
    My addresses are in my contacts directory but you just can't access it from the "To" button when writing an email
    Thanks to you for stating the obvious but its still very sad and BS...



  2. Martha Bagwell

    I just spent 2 hours trying to fix the 'address list doesn't populate when i click the To. ' The 'fix for me was to click the Name only in the Contacts Search box. How this got changed in the first place though is a mystery to me! Sometimes the obvious eludes me.

  3. jacqui stevens

    I signed on to Microsoft live mail and all my contacts have disappeared!!! The whole box is blank...any suggestions please.

  4. Rudi

    Just as I was about to create a new Outlook profile for one of my team members in an attempt to remedy the missing contacts issue, my CTO showed me this easy workaround:

    Create a new email
    Click the To... button
    Add every contact from every Address Book to the To-> field
    Save the email

    Your Contacts should now be automagically restored.

    We successfully tested this workaround on Office 2010 & 2013.

    Hope this trick will help someone.

  5. Caroline P

    I think I love you... I've been searching for hours for an answer to this, and it was exactly the same issue. I never changed mine either, but there you go.

  6. Barry

    Hi, this did not work. Followed exactly as described.
    This was a new Outlook installed on a new pc and have never been able to see the contact list.
    Unfortunately for me is that when following this "new profile" procedure (which it originally was a new profile) I lost all rules, accounts and settings. I have many accounts and rules and it is going to take me a while to put them all back in. And in the end, I still have no email contacts when I am in the new mail and click on "To"
    When in the contacts tab, I see all (nearly 700) emails and contacts.
    In the contacts and folder tab, the check box is grayed as mentioned above, but it is checked, but grayed. But can not un-check and recheck as it is grayed and not an available option.
    I have been an outlook user since the late 90's and have never encountered this problem.
    Very upsetting and disturbing.
    This should never even be an issue at this age and time of 2014. Come on MS!
    Any other ideas anybody beside the "new profile" as this is very time consuming and it didn't work.

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