Enabling the Contacts Folder as an Address Book

Last reviewed on August 5, 2014   —  42 comments

Applies to: Microsoft Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003 and older.

The Microsoft Outlook Address Book is a container that includes the main Contacts folder and any others you add. It’s used most often when you click the To button on an open message.

Outlook automatically makes the default Contacts folder available through the Address Book dialog, but you can also add other folders containing contacts to your address book.

Use the same procedure to remove Contact folders from your Outlook Address book, unchecking the option to use as an Outlook Address book.

Adding Other Contacts Folders | Automatic name checking | Notes | More Information


Adding Other Contacts Folders

To add any folder containing Contact items to the Outlook Address Book:

    1. Right-click the folder, choose Properties from the pop-up menu, and switch to the Outlook Address Book tab.

Enabled contacts as an address book

    1. Check the box for Show this folder as an e-mail Address Book.

Enable Contact folder as an Address book

  1. You can enter a new Name of the address book to make it easier to distinguish from other Contacts folders. The name change affects only the address book display, not the actual name of the folder.
  2. Click OK.


Automatic name checking

You can configure Outlook to look for matching contacts when you tab out of the To, CC, or BCC field. This is commonly known as Resolve contacts. Rather than clicking the To button and choosing names, you can type people’s names (or part of names) and Outlook will match them to existing contacts. If it finds more than one possible match, the name is underlined. Right-click on the name and choose the correct person.

If this is disabled, Outlook won’t look for a matching address until you click the Send button or press Alt+K.

In Microsoft Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, to enable auto-resolve go to File, Options, Mail, Send messages section and select Automatic Name Checking.

Automatic Name Checking
In Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003, or Outlook 2002, look for the Automatic Name Checking option in Tools, Options, Email Options, Advanced Email Options.

To show the Contacts folder from another user’s mailbox in the Outlook Address Book, see Display Other User’s Contacts in Address Book

Outlook 97 and Outlook 98/2000 (CW)

If you are using Outlook 97 or Outlook 98/2000 in Corporate/Workgroup mode and want Outlook to use the folder to resolve names, click Tools | Services | Addressing and add the folder to the list of address lists for name resolution.

In Outlook 97 and in Outlook 98 and 2000 in Corporate/Workgroup mode, you can take some additional steps to make sure that an Outlook contacts folder appears in the address book and to control the order in which contacts folders are checked.

  1. Choose Tools | Services and verify that Outlook Address Book is installed in your profile. If not, add it.
  2. Switch to your Contacts folder, then choose File | Folder | Properties. Verify that Show this folder in address book is checked.
  3. Go to Tools | Services | Addressing, and verify that the folder appears in the addressing search path at the bottom of the dialog. You can change the order in which folders are checked here.

If in Step 1, you don’t see Outlook Address Book as an available service, check to make sure that Contab32.dll is installed on your system. If not, then copy it from the Office/Outlook CD. If you still don’t see it, even after adding the .dll, use Start | Find to locate your Mapisvc.inf file, make a backup copy, and add the following to it:

In the [Services] section at the top of the file add this to the list:

CONTAB=Outlook Address Book

At the bottom of the file add these sections:


Try to add the Outlook Address Book service again after you save the file. Then continue with Steps 2 and 3 above.


The OAB behaves slightly differently in the two Outlook 98/2000 modes. In Internet Mail Only mode, it shows all contacts. In Corporate/Workgroup mode, it shows only those contacts with either resolved e-mail addresses or fax numbers. Newer versions of Outlook are all “corporate mode” and the Outlook Address Book works exactly the same in each.

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.

42 responses to “Enabling the Contacts Folder as an Address Book”

  1. Pauline Romanowski

    Since a Microsoft tech worked on another Outlook Express 2007 problem I have 'lost' my list of contacts. Where do I find this folder?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Contacts are in a pst file. Did you also lose old email? If so, the contacts are in the old pst file. Go to Tools, Account Settings, Data Files and click Add - (hopefully) the old data file will be in that folder - if so, select it and click ok to add it to he profile. Open contacts in that folder and select all, then use move to folder command or drag to the new contacts folder.

  2. Lynne James

    In Outlook 2007 I was able to put the folders in my Contacts/Address Book in the order I wanted, that is with the ones I accessed most appearing at the top of the list. I cannot figure out how to do that in Outlook 2010. Hints? Suggestions? Please help!

  3. jennifer

    I'm unable to (Switch to your Contacts folder, then choose File | Folder | Properties. Verify that Show this folder in address book is checked.) becuase it's greyed out as unavailable. What can I do?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      That means the profile or account is corrupt - you need to either remove the accounts from Outlook and add them back or delete the profile and start over with a new one.
      Contacts are missing when you click To

  4. Karl Benson

    You instruct:
    "Right-click the folder, choose Properties from the pop-up menu, and switch to the Outlook Address Book tab."

    Question: Starting from a blank desktop with no programs running, EXACTLY where do I "right click?"

    I tried right-clicking the "Contacts" folder in users/user-name, but I get no such pop-up as the one you illustrate.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You need to open Outlook and right click on the contacts folder in Outlook. The Contacts folder under your user account is used by the Windows Contact app, not Outlook.

      Right click on Contacts in outlook

    2. Jason Zhang

      Very Helpful ! Issue solved. Thank you.

  5. Jim Russell

    I have followed your instructions and it works but when I close outlook and re open the new contacts list has gone

    1. Diane Poremsky

      What version of Outlook? Do you use a registry cleaner or anything like that?

      After closing Outlook, check in Tasks Manager, Processes tab - is outlook.exe listed?

  6. Jim Russell

    Microsoft Office 7
    Using Free registry Cleaner
    No Outlook is not listed
    It used to be there and was o/k and now it won`t work

  7. Diane Poremsky

    How many contacts folders do you have in Outlook? Are any listed as Address books? If you switch to the folder list, you should be able to see all of the contacts folder in your profile.

  8. Jim Russell

    I have 2 contact folders, not that I can see, having trouble finding folders list please help

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Press CTRL+6 on your keyboard to switch to the folder list.

  9. Jim Russell

    still does not work

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I'm not sure what is wrong from the desciption, sorry.

  10. Florian

    Is there a possibility to set this flag via Powershell for contacts folder at the Exchange User Mailboxes?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      To the best of my knowledge, no, you can't use powershell to enable contacts as address books.

  11. Florian

    Maybe I was not precise, sorry! I have a powershell script which creates a new contacts folder in each exchange user mailbox and synchronizes the global address list contacts to them. But this newly created contacts folder is not marked as an e-mail address book. I want to change this setting with powershell, maybe during creation.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      AFAIK, you can't set the folder as an address book using powershell (unless you can send keys with it).

  12. Joe

    This is a great tip! I was wondering why only some of my contacts were available when I started typing in the "To" field.

  13. Lisa

    I have a contact folder that I have shared with others in my office. They do not have the same options under properties I do. The one I would like them to have is "show this folder as an email address book". Is there any way to share my contact folder with other and allow them to access it as an email address book? Currently they go to the folder via "contacts", right click on the person or distribution list and create new message. If they need to send this to multiple distribution lists, they have to send separate emails to each one... any thoughts?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Enabling shared folders as an address book requires several steps - see http://www.slipstick.com/outlook/contacts/display-other-contacts-in-address-book/ for details. That is the only way, short of copying the contacts to a mailbox folder.

  14. Patty

    I had Outlook 2003 and was able to move my Contacts up to the top of the list in my Address book, but am also unable to move it up to the top in 2010. From the Home tab, click on Address book and that is where I want to be able to move my Contact list to the top. I can't figure it out. I have Windows XP currently but will be moving to 2007 soon. Please help

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Did you choose Custom then select the book and adjust the order using the arrow buttons?

  15. Jim

    I am using owa version. All my information is in correctly but I keep getting an error message that I cant connect to the exchange server. I am using Outlook 2007. I am trying to enable the Exchange Address Book but I don't see it under administrative tools to start it. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Do you know what version of Exchange? Some of the latest updates caused problems with OWA.

  16. jackie

    I have office 2013 and Windows 8.1. I imported my contacts from MS Live Mail, and they show up in Contacts, but this doesn't show up as an Address book,I have right-clicked, entered into Properties, and said to use it as an Address book. What to do now?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Do they have email addresses? If the contacts are in outlook and the folder is enabled as an address book, the problem is usually the address is not resolved. Add a contact to the folder or retype the email address of one of the existing contacts. If they show up, the problem is the address in the imported contacts.

  17. Cathy Dermody

    I have just bought a new computer and went from Outlook 2007 to Outlook 2013. My address book is all there, but when i type in part of an email address name-no choices pop up-it's like i've lost all my email addresses.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      It sounds like you just lost the autocomplete list - are the addresses still in the contacts folder?

      Find the NK2 files on the old computer and copy it to the new computer. Make sure that the .nk2 file is in the following folder: %appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook. The .nk2 file must have the same name as your current Outlook 2013 profile.
      Press Windows key + R to open the command dialog. In the Open box, type
      outlook.exe /importnk2
      and then click OK. This should import the .nk2 file into the Outlook 2013 profile. After you import the .nk2 file, it's renamed with a .old file name extension on the first start of Outlook 2013.

  18. Al Acevedo

    You're the best!
    I just went from XP to Win 7 and had problems getting my Outlook files to the new computer. The last hurdle was that I didn't see all my specific "contacts" lists in the Address Book, only the Contacts list showed. I followed your instructions and now can pick and choose who gets the emails from within, not only the Contacts list, but within each and every Contacts Folder (specifically named) I added.

  19. SteveB

    And how does one do this with Outlook 2011 for Mac? Right clicking does not bring up the menu described.

  20. JC

    Doesn't work. Office 2010 Help is pretty much worthless.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      What happens when you try? If the folder is enabled as an address book and its not working, then you profile is corrupt and you need to make a new profile.

  21. Ricky

    Hi, I am using outlook 2013.

    I shared contacts from User A to User B. I can see User A's contacts in User B's outlook however when I try to create a group using User A's contacts it will not show her 'Contacts' section in the address book.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      That is expected since you can't set the shared account's contacts folder as an address book.

  22. Lynne Jones

    I have Outlook 2013. I have an address book, with 3 contact lists. I would like to be able to drag names from one list to the other as I need. I was able to do this before by clicking contacts, opening the group i needed and dragging the person into a different group. Now I don't have the contacts tab on the side where the folders are. Please help.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You mean the Contacts Navigation pane? It's the two head icon or the word People, depending if you use compact navigation or not. Or just click Ctrl+3.

      If you don't see the heads or the word People, click the 3 dots and open Navigation Options to change the settings.

  23. Josh

    When going to send an email, my contacts do not appear even though they have been added. I type in 'd' to choose who to send an email to for example and as usually all my contacts beginning in d would appear, they now do not.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      That means the autocomplete cache has cleared. Does any letter bring up an entry? If people you sent mail to recently (since you first noticed it wasn't working) are not on the list, I would clear the autocomplete cache and start fresh.

      From http://www.slipstick.com/outlook/email/understanding-outlooks-autocomplete-cache-nk2/:
      Clear the autocomplete cache using the File, Options, Mail, Empty Auto-complete list button.
      You can also use the /cleanautocompletecache switch to clear the cache.

  24. Michelle

    Diane Poremsky - Thank you. so easy to follow.

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