Last reviewed on February 28, 2015   —  10 Comments

Use this method to share the addresses in a distribution list with anyone, even if they do not use Outlook, or to extract the addresses from a Contact Group (distribution list).

  1. Open the DL
  2. Outlook 2007 and older: Click on the Send button to expand the menu.
    Send the Contact group (DL) in internet format
    Outlook 2010 and up: Click Forward Group
  3. Select In Internet Format (vCard)

This opens a new message form with the members of the Contact Group (DL) contained in a text file attached to the message.

If you are using this method to create a text file of the group members, you can also use the File, Save as menu and save the DL as a text file. (In Outlook 2007, Save as is on the Office icon's menu.)

Save List to a Contact Group

Once the recipient receives your forwarded contact group list, they need to copy the rows containing the names and address and paste them into the Members field of a new Contact Group.

  1. Open the Text file attachment.
  2. Select and copy the rows of names (copy all names at once)
    Select and copy the names
  3. In the contact group form, click Add Members, From Outlook Contacts
    Add members from contacts
  4. Paste the names into the Members field at the bottom of the dialog
    paste the names in the members field
  5. Click OK.
    Create new contact group
  6. Enter a name for your group and Save

Video Tutorial: How to forward a Contact Group

More Information

Create a Distribution List from a list of addresses – Recipients can use this method to convert the list to a new DL or to add the members to an existing DL.

Create Individual Contacts from a Distribution List – A tutorial showing users how to create contacts from an existing DL. This uses the File, Save method.


  1. Steve Ambrose says

    Hi Diane thank you for the information to share a distribution list. How is the best way to install a distribution list once recieved in email using outlook? The attachnment appears like a blank email so far...


    • Diane Poremsky says

      Is there a text file attached? If so, open a new DL form, copy the rows of names out of the list and paste it into the Members field of the DL.

      If its really a blank message, the person will need to resend you the list using Forward in internet format.

  2. Linda Alcott says

    I am new to office365. I successfully moved my contact list from outlook 2010 to office365. I can see the contact list when in my email home screen. I am attempting to build a group distribution list. I successfuly created the group name, but when I go into "member" and click add, to add names off of the contact list, the little icon which is suppose to pull up the contact list respondes "no items"... Can you please help... thank you!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Are you using Outlook or web access?

      If Outlook: If you start a new message and click the To button, do you see names? If not, see Missing addresses - this should fix the contact group problem too.

  3. Javier O says

    Another way, probably much easier, is that outlook contact groups are objects that are shared in exchange server and only short links or programmatic shortcuts are sent so the only way to send them to an external recipient is to first create a duplicate of it by saving it to your computer like your desktop with the save us option on the contact group to be sent.
    once saved, find the msg file saved and right click on it and go to send to mail recipient and send it!
    you will see a different behavior on the recipients outlook when you try to open the item and a warning but it is because contains a copy of the exact item you wanted to send :)

    I know no one answered this or explained it so hope this helps to all of you.

    Javier O

    • Diane Poremsky says

      The method I recommend eliminates the warnings. :) It breaks the links to the contact, but unless the DL contains only addresses in the GAL or one-off (no contact exists) addresses, you'll break the link anyway.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      How are you opening it? It might be read-only due to the way it was opened.

      Can you forward the group as an Internet vCard? That will create a message with the DL members listed in a text file. You can paste it into a new Contact Group.

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