Where do Outlook’s auto-complete suggestions come from?
Outlook’s auto-complete feature attempts to be helpful by suggesting
email names that are similar to what you’re typing. A couple of
keystrokes, an auto-complete suggestion, and you don’t have to type the
entire email name every time. Seems both simple and handy.
Unfortunately it’s not quite simple, and it can be both handy and
frustrating because email names you expect to be present aren’t, and
those that you never want to look at again keep popping up.
A little bit of understanding and a few tips will go a long way to
making this feature more helpful.
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To answer the question, the auto-complete suggestions come from something
called the nickname list and your address book. Usually.
The nickname list is something that Outlook builds over time as you send
and receive email. Essentially it collects all the email addresses that
you’ve sent email to as they’ve appeared in the To, Cc or Bcc fields.
That’s Outlook’s first source of auto-complete suggestions.
Outlook also appears to sometimes take suggestions from your address book.
It’s unclear exactly when it decides to, or rather when it decides not to.
It might be related to how many suggestions it was able to find in the
nickname list. Regardless, what’s important is that entries in your
address book are not always presented.
It’s frustrating to type the first few characters of someone’s
name knowing that they’re in your address book, but they
There is a solution.
Ctrl+K is a shortcut for the “Check Names” button, also on the
toolbar when you’re composing a message. Check names will look at the
characters you’ve typed so far and compare them to your address book
entries. If there’s only one match it completes the entry. If
there’s more than one match then it presents a list for you to choose from.
And the list will not include items from the nickname list. But the
name you just entered will get added to the nickname list so the next time
you use it, it should be there.
Personally, I think it’s more confusing than it needs to be. But there
By the way, deleting an address from the nickname list is also very easy:
when you see it being suggested use the up or down arrow keys to highlight
it, and then press delete.
The nickname list that Outlook maintains can occasionally become corrupt.
To repair it or to reset it completely Microsoft has provided this knowledgebase article.