Last reviewed on July 29, 2015   —  35 Comments

If you are looking for information about the old "contact linking" feature, see Show Contact Linking fields in Outlook.

Outlook 2013 has a neat feature where all contacts for a person are linked together and the aggregate data from all of the linked contacts is displayed on a contact card, with the source of the data listed on the contact card. You can click a link to open any one of the contacts associated with the person.

Contact card links

Outlook does a pretty good job at matching the contacts but occasionally gets it wrong. When contacts are incorrectly linked, or not linked, you can correct the links from the contact card.

Under list of associated contacts (View Source) is a link for Link Contacts. Click this link to open the Linked Contacts dialog shown here.
Unlink contacts

To unlink contacts, hover a name then click the X beside the name to unlink it from the contact.

To link contacts, type a name into the Search field to search for Contacts to link to the contact. Select the names you want to link to the contact.


    • Diane Poremsky says

      Linked Contacts linking to Lync contacts in Office365... would that be in or And would you like fries with that? :)

  1. baron bruno says

    Why don't they have implemented this new functionnality in remplacement of contact linking on all type of items ??? New functionnality but usage limited if not implemented on all types of items !!!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      The new functionality is just for associating contacts from multiple sources together as one, in most cases it will be to link a persons outlook contact with their Facebook and LinkedIn contacts. Some people may use it to link households - separate contacts for spouses, linked using this method.

  2. Elena says

    Custom Task with "Contacts" link field was created in Outlook 2003.
    I migrated the custom form into Outlook 2013. I updated the registry as described in this article to be able to continue using the "Contact" field. However the registry update did not change the behaivior of the custom form: when a contact is added to the "Contacts" field Outlook crashes and restarts.
    This does not happen if I add the "Contact" field to a new custom form. It only happens with the form imported from the Outlook 2003.
    Can anything be done besides recreating the custom form from scratch?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Probably not... but if its related to the tiny text problem affecting custom forms, it will be fixed in April. SP1 is due out soon too, I have no way of knowing if it fixes this problem, but it might.

      Does it have code behind it?

  3. Kendall Ymker says

    I do not want to use this feature. How do I turn this automatic linking off? Outlook is linking some of my contacts together. I have manually removed the link. Outlook then, at random intervals, decides to re-link the contacts. I have even changed the names so they are more dissimilar but Outlook still links them.

  4. Kendall Ymker says

    Thanks but that doesn't help me. Probably a rhetorical question but why does Microsoft think that it needs to "help" me in this way? The fact that the software is doing things that I don't want or even ask it to do is very aggravating.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      :) They thought it was a good idea... and it might work pretty good in theory, but in wide use the flaws come out.

  5. Todd Parkhill says

    Is there any way to recover data once something has been unlinked? I noticed that Outlook, oh-so-helpfully, linked/merged a company's record (no person's name) with a person at that company. I unlinked the two and now the entire company record is gone and I'm left with just the person's record! I needed that co. info and now it seems Outlook has "helpfully" removed it.


    Foolish me; I thought Office365/Exchange was going to help me and my business.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Check the deleted items folder - it's not supposed to delete data when it merges and moves the contact it doesn't keep to delete. Go to the deleted folder, turn off the reading pane and sort by the icon - it's usually easier to find non-mail that way.

  6. Todd Parkhill says

    Is there a way to safely unlink contacts? When I have unlinked contacts all my notes for the contact disappear and I cannot find them anywhere.

    I posted a similar question two days ago, but I don't see it. Why is that?

    • Todd Parkhill says

      And now that I've posted my follow-up question, I see my previous question... Must be a cache issue.

      Please disregard and thank you for your reply. I'll take a look in "Deleted Items."

    • Diane Poremsky says

      i approve messages as i reply so they dont get lost, so its here somewhere. :)

      you can unlink contacts but cant disable the feature. switch the view to business cards and it wont be so annoying.

  7. Marc Bressman says

    You have to love when Microsoft just decides to randomly implement new "features" that actually make it harder to work and then don't offer any way to revert to the way things were (or disable these features altogether).

  8. jamespward says

    2 things. this does not seem to apply to linking a "task" to a person. instead a person to another person. second when I try to link person to person my cursor just spins, never completes the link. thanks

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It links the contact to a task, or appointment, contact - basically as a hyperlink to the contat. The only other option is assigning the task to a person.

  9. Michael Rowe says

    Is there a way to link contacts quickly en mass (that is my created contact for them with their automated LinkedIn or Facebook contact) or must I link them one by one? And how do I link them again? I seem to be able to pull up the feature screen only when I have an email and click on the person's email address. That can't be the only way to find contacts I might want to link together. And was their a final verdict on if information (ie in the notes field) is lost if you decide to unlink contacts later?

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      When you link contacts, it only associates two contacts together and displays the aggregated information on the people view - notes will still be in the copy in your contacts folder. Outlook should link a contact with his linkedin profile if the lnikedin address matches the one in contacts. But if not, yes, you'll need to do it one at a time - you can do it from the new People view in Contacts aka People.

  10. Richard says

    How can I 'heal' linking errors?

    Some of my contacts are linked and I don't know why. So when I look at a conversation with Anna I suddenly see in the social section the contact photo of Ben. When I click on Ben's photo I see the mail address of Ben but the Phone number of Anne.

    When I unlink them, all is back to normal. But I have dozens of these 'false' links.

    I (Outlook 2013, Office 365 E3) have never used linking on purpose. But nevertheless some of my private contacts in my contact folder are linked with colleagues that I see only through GAL. But the contact objects have nothing in common. With one exception: I mailed in the past with both of them. But always separately. And each time with different subjects. And whey never where recipients of the same mail. And I never provides the social connector with any 'social' login credentials.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      The linking is buggy - for most people it's just one or two that are poorly linked. I'm not aware of a quick fix to unlink and relink.

      The contact photos come from your contacts, the GAL (if photos were added) and from SharePoint (if used), plus linkedin and facebook if signed in to either or both services.

  11. Sandy Kleinhenz says

    i'm using outlook 2013 and in specific contact under sources, there is NO "Link Contacts" in blue. The Linkedin source is showing in blue but no way to remove that source?

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      If linkedin is the only source listed, no your can't remove it (unless you unfriend the person on linkedin).

  12. Roman Lowkis says

    It's been a while since this thread started and I wonder if Microsoft still thinks that implementing linking in that fashion was a good idea? I hope that Diane is a pretty good conduit for messages, but is the product team listening?
    All I would wish for is that the feature give more control over the behavior to the user and that the bugs were fixed.
    About control:
    - allow for disabling the feature
    - implement link filter/search to find contacts that have been linked
    - allow for mass linking/unlinking
    About bugs:
    - I unlinked two contacts, and the addresses are now separate, but the phone numbers still appear linked. The phones of one contact appear as "read-only" on the other.
    - In another case I have a record that appears to be linked to itself. The phone number appears twice, once editable, once "read-only".
    Pretty sloppy for a feature that has been around for that long.
    BTW: I am using O365 Pro Plus.

  13. jamespward says

    I have made many attempts to understand and use the linking feature. I have hired several experts and several tech support attempts all to no avail.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Honestly, I'm not sure why you'd want to use it. :) It's really only useful if you have duplicate contacts - and with the demise of Facebook and LinkedIn connectors, it's less likely you'll have duplicates you'd want to keep. Some people use it to link a husband and wife together, although I don't like using it for that.

  14. jamespward says

    sorry , I meant link tasks and journal entries to contacts. like I used to do in prior Outlook, now I have to make a "category" for each contact to associate the task, etc. to the contact.

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