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How to restore missing contacts in Outlook

Kay Ewbank
21 Oct 2014
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We explain how to restore missing Outlook contacts and fix the "Could not find an Outlook contact with this email address" error message

Question: I'm using Outlook 2010, and some of my contacts seem to be missing from the contact list. I know they're there because when I start typing their name, Outlook correctly suggests the rest of their name. If I try to look through my contacts to find them, they're not there, and doing a search for their name or email doesn't find them either. What's really irritating is that if I select the name in the email where Outlook has just suggested it, right-click on the email address and choose "Look up Outlook contact", Outlook tells me it "Could not find an Outlook contact with this email address", which must be a lie because it's just completed the address for me. How do I find this missing addresses?

Kate Ward

Answer: From the sounds of it, this is a problem with Outlook's autocomplete. Outlook is trying its best to help you complete email addresses, but it doesn't add those addresses to your actual contact list unless you tell it to. Instead, people you email are added to the Suggested Contacts folder.

The first thing to check is Outlook 2010's Suggested Contacts folder. This is a new feature in 2010 that appears in your folder list, but you're not really alerted to it. When you send an email to a contact that's not in your Contacts folder, the email address is stored in the Suggested Contacts folder. From this point onwards, if you begin typing an email address that's in this folder, you will be shown the complete email address to save you typing it. We think this may be what's happened in your case.

^You can disable the Suggested Contacts folder in Outlook 2010

However, the real reason why the Suggested Contacts folder has been created is to save you effort, because you can copy any entries from within Suggested Contacts to your actual Contacts list. If you check out your Suggested Contacts folder you'll see that some of the names in there are people who should be in Contacts, so move them across and fill in the missing details. You may also find some people who are already in your Contacts folder, but using a different email address. If you attempt to move these across, there's a risk Outlook will treat them as a separate ‘person' from the original contact, so you'll need to put the new email address manually into the original contact.

There will also be some who you really only emailed the once, so you can just leave them in Suggested Contacts – it doesn't cause any problems.

If you don't like the way Outlook assumes you're going to want to keep details of new contacts, you can disable the Suggested Contacts folder. From the Outlook File menu, choose Options. In the dialogue that appears, take the tick mark out of the choice for "Automatically create Outlook contacts for recipients that do not belong to an Outlook Address Book" under Suggested contacts.

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