Delete Bad Addresses: MS Outlook

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft Outlook tries to be very helpful and keeps track of the people that you correspond with. There are pros and cons to this behavior, however.

On the plus side, Outlook remembers addresses you've used in the past, even if you have never stored them as Contacts and you can retrieve them by typing only the first few letters.

The cons however, go on for a bit. The worst is that as you update your contacts, the AutoComplete name cache file remains static. So even though you have changed Aunt Mary's address several times in the last year, the one Outlook suggests when you start typing Mary in the To field will be the wrong one.

These phantom e-mail addresses can drive you nuts after a while -- and, as is typical of Microsoft, there is no way to edit the file where these names are stored since it isn't written in plain text.

Outlook stores up to 1000 entries in this hidden name cache and the entire cache is loaded into memory each time you launch Outlook. According to Microsoft's Knowledge Base, the lookup feature slows noticeably when the cache reaches 1000 names. The company notes in another article that if the name cache file becomes corrupted, Outlook may start sending mail to another AutoComplete entry's address. So what do you do?

There is no easy solution to this case conundrum -- the "feature" was just designed incorrectly. Nevertheless, you can delete entries from the file one at a time in certain instances. To accomplish this:

  1. Click the New button to open a new message.
  2. Type the first three character of the cached name into the to field to trigger the AutoComplete feature.
  3. Press the Down Arrow key to highlight the offending cached name.
  4. Press Delete to remove it.

Unfortunately, this only works if more than one cached name begins with the first three letters, triggering the drop-down list.

(c) Carol Bratt, all rights reserved. Used with permission. Duplication is forbidden without express consent of author. Visit Carol's web site to learn more tips like this one!

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