Outlook’s AutoComplete strikes again

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A KPMG team in Florida, USA are embarrassed and lost an important client all because of a slip of the keyboard and Outlook’s email AutoComplete feature.

Miami Today has the story of the proposed new Miami-Dade courthouse and a mistake by the courthouse consultant’s KPMG. A confidential proposal and evaluation was mistakenly sent by KPMG to rival bidders.

KPMG identified the source of the leak as the “autofill function in Microsoft Outlook,”.

It’s actually called AutoComplete (AutoFill is an Excel feature).  Outlook displays a list of email addresses used in the past

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Example courtesy of Microsoft

It’s way too easy to accidentally choose the wrong name from a list.  Office-Watch.com has told the tale of this happening before to the Aussie Immigration Department and the Bank of England.  There’s been plenty of other mistakes caused by the same Outlook feature.

The Fix

If you’re working in a sensitive area, consider stopping Outlook’s AutoComplete.  It makes email addressing a little slower but greatly reduces the risk of addressing accidents.

Go to Options | Mail then Uncheck the option ‘Use Auto-Complete List to suggest names when typing in the To, Cc, and Bcc lines’.

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You might also want to use the ‘Empty Auto-Complete List’ button to clear out the history.


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