Auto-completion in Outlook

In Tools | Options | Email Options | Advanced E-Mail
Options, there is a setting: "Suggest names while completing the To, Cc and Bcc fields."
When enabled, Outlook suggests matches as you're typing in these fields, much like
IE will suggest URLs as you're typing in the Address bar. Type in "David" and you
will get a list of Davids to whom you have sent mail in the past (names are added
to this cache on resolve, i.e. once they're underlined).

After a while, this list could get cluttered with people
you rarely send mail to, so you don't need them in the cache. So you can delete those
entries from the cache:

1. Type enough characters so that the name shows up
in the list
2. Using the down arrow, select the entry you want to delete
3. Press the delete key

Buh-bye goes the name.

Note: The cache is stored on the client, so if you
move to another computer with Outlook on it, you won't have the same list. For information
on how to back-up this cache as well as the rest of your Outlook data, see
For information on how to configure the number of names that show up in the cache,

Comments (18)

  1. Anonymous says:

    If anyone’s wondering why I haven’t posted much in a while, it’s 8:40 pm and I’m still stuck in my…

  2. Axel Werner says:

    HELL! I Searched an hour for that tip through the Microshit’s NoKnowledgeBase and all i got is the solution to reset the hole completion cache. But no word about deleting single enries.


  3. Axel Werner says:

    PS: i forgot to say that this will work with Outlook 2002 XP,too!!

  4. Linda says:

    Is there any way to find the file data for the whole thing and delete en masse…I have years of bad addresses and would dearly love to clean it all up



  5. Aaron Abend says:

    Ditto the other comments. Spent a half hour before I found this obvious answer. Would it destroy microsoft’s unquestioned dominance of the software world and cost Bill 46 billion to put this information in the online help?

  6. Carol / Texas says:

    KC: Thank you for this auto-complete/DELETE tip. It will save me the embarrassment of (once again) sending emails to the wrong "Cindy Ba….". I Googled you right up, but really… couldn’t MS put this tip in their Answer Wizard!!

  7. Aubs says:


    Just like the other posters, thanks for the invaluable information, much appreciated.

    One other little annoyance I have, is when, for example…

    Monday, you type an address into a new email as: "sample@" – and it gives you the option of selecting an "auto complete" email address. That’s great.

    Tuesday, you type an address into a new email as: "sample@" – it doesn’t give you the "auto complete". you then try any other email address ‘I KNOW I HAVE SENT AN EMAIL TO THEM BEFORE… GRRRR!’ and it still doesn’t work!!

    Any suggestion greatly appreciated.


  8. paul says:

    Thanks for the Tip. This was the easiest way to find this solution.


  9. Elvira says:

    Thank you very much KC. I really needed this information. Tried to search for it a few months ago on Google and didn’t find anything. Was so lucky to find your website!

    Your baby is lovely. So great to see a happy woman in IT who has both a great job and a great family!

    All the best with everything.



  10. Ron Cannon says:

    Has this capability been removed. When I go to the advanced email options there is no place to change the auto completion settings. It is amazing that I have searched HELP files for this and nothing comes up whatsoever. Microsoft really s**ks.

  11. zgeist says:

    I am having the same problem as Aubs – sometimes autocomplete works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I checked, and it IS configured, ie, turned on.

    Sigh. It never failed on Outlook Express.

  12. Andrew / NZ says:

    Like all the rest I have been pulling my hair out over this one for ages… A big thanks from the other side of the planet as well

  13. Chris Huson says:

    Is there a reason auto-completion no longer works if you type in the first name first? It is very irritating to have to retype names after you realize auto-completion is doing nothing. The old behavior was very useful.

  14. Oliver says:

    The Windows UI team or at least the IE team should also adopt this … I’d love to be able to delete IE history entries this way so that stuff that has popped up on me doesn’t fill my address full of cruft 🙂

  15. Matt CA says:;EN-US;287623

    Microsoft Outlook maintains a nickname list that is used by both the automatic name checking and the automatic completion features. The nickname list is automatically generated as you use Outlook. If the nickname cache is corrupted, Outlook may not be able
    to identify recipients, may offer incorrect recipients when automatically completing the e-mail address, or may send the message to the wrong person.

  16. Roxstar says:

    thnx you thnx you… very helpful with people changing emails all the time

  17. Iwan says:

    just dropping a note to say thanks. this tip is very useful. 🙂

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