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People, Contacts, and Address Books

This article applies to: Microsoft Outlook

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Terminology note: "People" were formerly called "Contacts."

Although you can type in a person's email address while you compose a message or create a meeting invitation, Outlook provides a variety of ways to store and find addresses for you.

  • Auto-complete: Outlook remembers addresses you've sent to and received from, so when you begin to type in the ToCc, or Bcc field, Outlook will look for matching addresses and auto-complete the entry for you.
  • Contact lists: You can maintain your own Contacts list (or lists), with as much or as little information on each person as you like.

  • Global Address List: This is a directory of everyone at Cornell.

In the standard configuration, when you type in the ToCc or Bcc field, Outlook will begin to search for a match. It will check the Auto-complete information first. Then it will search through your contact list, and finally it will search the Global Address List. It will display a list of possible matches. Click the one you want.

There are a few persnickety details here.

Outlook will auto-complete NetIDs unless the person you're looking for uses a Cornell Optional Email Alias (like instead of their address. People using alias addresses will only auto-complete when you type the beginning of their alias address.

If you start typing a name, Outlook will match what you type against both first and last names. If you type a space, it assumes that the text before the space is the first name. From that point on, you need to match the person's name exactly as it appears in the directory. Punctuation matters, but uppercase and lowercase do not. Here are some examples, which assume that Philip Q. Schmertz and Robert Philodendron are two entries in the Global Address List:

  • If you type "phil" you'll get both Philip Q. Schmertz and Robert Philodendron as matches.
  • If you then add a space after "phil" Robert Philodendron will no longer show as a match.
  • If you type "phil schmertz" you will not get a match.
  • If you type "phil q. schmertz" you will not get a match.
  • If you type "philip q. s" you WILL get Philip Q. Schmertz as a match. (The period after "q" is required.)


An easy way to add a contact is to right-click (or ctrl-click) on a message from the person you want to add, select Sender, then select Add to People. A new Contact card will open with the sender's name and email address filled in.

To add a new contact from scratch, click People at the bottom of the main Outlook window. The People screen will open. Click New Contact in the ribbon. A Contact card will open. Fill in at least the First NameLast Name, and an e-mail field. All other fields are optional. (To get fields for additional email addresses, click the plus sign next to Internet, then select the type of address.) When you're done with this card, click Save & Close.

To edit an existing contact, double-click on it.

To delete a contact, click on it and press Delete on your keyboard, or right-click and select Delete in the drop-down menu.

Contact Groups

Learn how to create a group of Contacts in Outlook with this guidance from Microsoft. Your Contacts list is your address book or list of people.


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