How to fix Microsoft Outlook email address lookup when composing email

Microsoft Outlook’s time is up…actually it has been up for many years. The interface gets worse and worse. The fact that very few of us work solely on one device makes it more irrelevant. And the fact that transferring of data gets more and more complex is absolutely unconscionable in this day and age of technology.

Case in point: Today, I worked with a client who uses Outlook 2007 or 2010 on 4 different computers and tries (without success) to keep them all in sync. The problem I helped with today was getting Outlook to automatically look up email addresses from the contact list. Guess what? It doesn’t happen right out of the box!!

What in the name of Bill Gates is a 21st century email program doing not offering this essential function out of the box?? I guess that’s a rhetorical question since Outlook is a 20th century product with no real improvements since 1997. I digress,  however.

Since I’ve long been in a Gmail convert and devotee, I had to quickly resort to a web search. Microsoft’s support was worthless. A few blogs offered this advice:

  1. Start a new email
  2. Click the To: button
  3. Select all people in your address book
  4. Click OK
  5. All addresses will appear in your to field (DO NOT PUSH SEND!!)
  6. Push Ctrl+A on your keyboard
  7. Push Alt+K on your keyboard
  8. Delete the message
  9. Try a new message and the lookup should work.

Woo hoo! It did work…until you close and restart Outlook. Moral: Do NOT use the above method.

A little more searching took me to this well written article from How-to-Geek describing how to use a tool from the clever people at Nirsoft. Turns out that the geniuses at Microsoft designed Outlook to not use the contact list for lookup, but instead build another (hidden) database that builds the lookup list over time. Crazy, I know, but thanks to How-To-Geek’s article and Nirsoft’s tool, you can control the beast that is Outlook a little better before you wise up and start using web based email.

How-to-Geek’s perfectly laid out article did the trick to solve this auto complete or lookup problem for email addresses in Microsoft Outlook.


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