Dear Lifehacker: How can I manage Outlook’s auto-complete feature?

Dear Lifehacker: How can I manage Outlook’s auto-complete feature?

Dear Lifehacker, I want to learn more about using and enhancing the auto-complete feature in Outlook. My company doesn’t let me download free software for use on my office computer, but I am computer literate. Any hints? Thanks, Mike

Dear Mike,
Auto-complete — where Outlook works out the likely address you want to
reply to based on recent replies and entries in your contacts — is one
of the most useful features in Outlook (similar options are also found
in some online mail systems like Gmail, though disappointingly
Outlook’s web access version doesn’t emulate it). If you’ve set up
Outlook on a new computer and imported your PST files, it can come as a
rude shock to realise that lots of email addresses you thought were in
your contacts were actually only stored in the auto-complete archives,
which are stored separately.
Fortunately, you can move this information from one PC to another, and
you don’t need any specialised tools to do so. As we’ve detailed before,
this information is stored in a file with an .NK2 extension, typically found in
Outlook’s App Data folders. As long as you can access the relevant
folders on your PC (which might not be possible in Vista depending on
how permissions are set by your management), you’re home and hosed.
If you don’t like auto-complete, it is possible to turn it off. Select
the Tools menu, click on Options, click on E-mail options, click on
Advanced e-mail Options and deselect ‘Suggest names while completing
To, Cc, and Bcc fields’. Finally, if you can install your own software,
NK2View lets you edit the auto-complete entries — useful if there’s a
stray name in there that keeps coming up that you’d like to dump. Hope
this helps, love, Lifehacker


  • It is possible to delete a name from the autocomplete feature by simply starting to type the name and then pressing delete on the relevant autocomplete entry. This will remove it from the autocomplete database.

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