Why doesn't an Outlook change of address stick?

Stop Outlook remembering an old email address.

” A friend notified me about a change of her email address but when I sent a message it still went to the old address. I’ve checked the Contacts list so why is Outlook getting it wrong? “

There are numerous possible causes for this, the first is the most likely and common problem but don’t discount the other possibilities.


Outlook’s Autocomplete is the list of contacts that appears when you start typing in the TO: field of an email like this edited example:

Outlook - Autocomplete email addresses - edited.jpg image from Why doesn


This list is NOT connected to your contacts list directly – in other words a change in your Contacts doesn’t change the Autocomplete list at all. The Autocomplete list is simply a list of previous used addresses in that field – much in the same way that many browsers will show a list of web links as you start typing.

The original email address might well have been copied from an Outlook Contact but once it’s on the Autocomplete list there’s no linkage. That means you update a Contact but when you type their name in a message field and select from the list that appears, you’re selecting the old email address as used in the past.

Autocomplete is so useful and quick, it’s easy to forget the downside.

The fix is in two parts. First remove the old entry from the Autocomplete list then use the new email address from your Contacts list.

  1. Type in the first characters of the person’s name. When their details appear in the Autocomplete list use the down and up arrow keys to highlight the outdated entry then press Delete to get rid of it.
    This trick should work in any Autocomplete drop-down list to remove unwanted entries – for example web link in Internet Explorer.
  2. Type in the person’s name then press Alt + K to retrieve the address from the Contacts list.
    Double check that the new email address is inserted. Once used, the updated address will appear in future Autocomplete lists.

The tip for deleting unwanted items from the Autocomplete list can also be used to remove ‘one off’ addresses that can otherwise keep appearing long after you sent a messages to that address.

Multiple email addresses on Contacts

Another possibility is that the old email address is still hidden in your Contacts list.

Outlook can store up to three email addresses for a single contact, though only one is immediately visible in a contact.

Outlook - multiple email addresses in a Contact.jpg image from Why doesn


Use the drop down list to check that the old address isn’t hiding as ‘E-mail 2’ or ‘E-mail 3’.

Are there multiple contacts for one person? This is less likely these days because recent versions of Outlook are better at detecting duplicates and prompting you to merge changes into a single contact.

From address is still wrong

The last possibility is that it’s not your fault! If you hit ‘Reply’ and the wrong email address comes up in the ‘To’ field then the sender hasn’t updated their email configuration to show the new address as the sender of their messages.

This is most likely if they are changing email addresses while staying with the same email host or ISP. When this happens their basic email configuration (POP, SMTP and login) might not change but the email address changes.

Whatever the reason, all you can do to let the sender know that they have to fix their email configuration.

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