Create a Contact Group from a List of Addresses

Last reviewed on March 26, 2014

This method is not necessary if you use Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013. In Outlook 2010/2013 you can hit Reply to All then copy the addresses from the To and CC fields and paste into the members field of a Contact Group form (DL).

If all recipients are in your address book (in Contacts or GAL) or the address is in the display name (either the address only or in this format: "Diane (diane@domain.com)" ) you can copy from the To and CC fields in any version of Outlook. Outlook will resolve the names to the contacts.

You can use any list of email addresses to create a DL (or Contact Group), including from Excel or a custom view in Outlook (with only the display name and email address visible.) The only requirement is that each member's information needs to be delimited with a semi-colon or paragraph mark (one name and address per line). If there is not a display name, the address will be used for the display name in the finished DL.

poremsky <me@gmail.domain.com>
Diane Poremsky <me@domain.com>; <diane@domain.com>;

Create a DL (Contact Group) from a List of Addresses

While you can get the addresses from any semi-colon delimited or one address per line list, this page was originally written to help people who wanted to create a DL from addresses in a message they were CC’d on. The instructions to create the DL once you have the list of addresses is below.

To get the addresses from the Internet header

  1. Right click on the message.
  2. Choose Message Options
  3. Click in the header field of the Message options dialog and press Ctrl+A to select all, Ctrl+C to copy.
  4. Close the dialog.
  5. Open a new message form and paste the header into it. I press Ctrl+A to select the signature then Ctrl+V to paste over it.
  6. Delete the content below the addresses and above it.
  7. Remove the text "To:" "CC:" and "From:"
  8. Use Find and Replace to replace the commas with semi-colons and tabs (^t) with a space.
    If a name and corresponding address are on different lines, backspace to remove the paragraph mark. If you aren't sure, Ctrl+Shift+8 to toggle marks on and off. Or use Find and replace to replace paragraph marks (^p) with spaces.
  9. Copy the prepared addresses. (Ctrl+A to select all, Ctrl+C to copy)

Create the Distribution list

These screenshots are from Outlook 2010 but the screens look similar in other versions.

Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013
add members to a contact group

  1. Open a new Contact Group form
  2. Click on Add Members (1) and select either From Outlook Contacts or From Address book
  3. Click in the Members field (at the bottom) (2)
  4. Paste (Ctrl+V) the address list into the field
  5. Click OK to add them to the Contact Group. (3)

Save and close.

Create a new contact group from a list of addresses

Outlook 2007 and older

  1. Open a new DL form
  2. Click on Select Members
  3. Click in the Members field (at the bottom)
  4. Paste (Ctrl+V) the address list into =the Members field
  5. Click Ok to add the names to the DL

Save and close.

Video Tutorial

This video tutorial shows you how to get addresses from the header of a message in your Inbox and create the distribution list.

More Information

This will work in all versions of Outlook except Outlook 98/2000 in Internet Only mode. In older versions, paste the addresses into the Add to Distribution list box on the right side of the select names dialog.

This method will also work to create distribution lists in OWA.

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.

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