Outlook 2013 – why Link Contacts?

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In Outlook 2013 you may have noticed the ‘Link Contacts  …’ item on each contact card.  We’ll explain why it’s there and what it can do for you.

Link Contacts is different from ‘Contact Linking’ that’s been available in many versions of Outlook.  Contact Linking lets you connect a contact with a specific appointment, task or other contacts.  It’s still available in Outlook 2013 but appears to have been downgraded by Microsoft.

To understand the new Link Contacts feature we first need to look at a key difference in Outlook 2013.  The Contact Card.

At first, the contact card looks like a simple display of information from a contact item in Outlook.  It can be that simple but often isn’t.

Contact Cards show merged information from many sources.   The same person in different contact lists (for example a personal contact list and a corporate list) will have their details merged into a single Contact Card view.  Other sources include Sharepoint, Lync (Skype for Business), Skype, Facebook and LinkedIn.

That’s why the tooltip shows the source in brackets. It lets you know where that detail came from.

And there’s an entry on the Contact Card called ‘View Source’ which lists the sources.

Why Link Contacts

Most of the time Outlook will match up contacts from different sources automatically so you don’t have to worry about it.   But other times you’ll have to link them yourself.

A personal list might have their commonly used name while a corporate address list uses a person’s full proper name.  Then there’s mismatches from Facebook, LinkedIn etc.  This can happen when the email address used by someone on a social site is different from the one you have in Outlook.

Click on Link Contacts, then search for the other contact item.

Select the contact to link and press OK

Now when you click on either contact, they both show the same information, merged from two sources into a single display.

The phone number that appeared under the ‘Xander’ contact now appears with the email and IM information from the ‘Alexander’ contact.

The tooltip over each detail should tell you where that information came from.

Linking contacts might suit your needs or not.  It’s quite likely that you want to keep work and personal contact details separate.  The choice is yours.


To remove a link, go back to the Link Contacts menu, click on one of the links and choose the  X  delete button on right.

This does NOT remove the contact, it just drops the linkage between two sources of info for that contact.

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