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Mail Merge from an Outlook Contact Group

Cindy M tells us about a curious oversight in Outlook …

Outlook will not allow me to choose a Contact Group on which to perform a mail merge. I got an error message stating “Contact groups cannot be merged. You must select a Contact.”

It’s something we’d never thought to check but Cindy is quite right.  A Contact Group (formerly distribution list) is a way to bring many contacts together under a single name (like Friends, Customers, Enemies etc).

It means you can TO, CC or BCC to a Contact Group but not use the same group directly in a mail merge from Outlook.     That’s annoying since, presumably it would not be hard for Microsoft to get the Contact Group members then continue with the merge.

The workarounds aren’t simple either.   A mail merge can be started from a current Outlook contact view.  We can’t find a way to display Contact Group members in a View.  In other words, there’s no contact field that can show if a contact is a member of a specific Group.  (we may be wrong, if you can figure it out, please let us know).

A mail merge can be started from Outlook using manually selected contacts from a list.  One workaround is to manually select the contact group members.

Another workaround is to put all the Contact Group members into a Category or custom field.  Then filter the view to show only contacts with that Category.  But you have to remember that each contact added/deletion in the Group also needs a Category change.

Microsoft – another item for your Outlook To Do list.  In fact, all the mail merge code needs dragging into the 21st Century.

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