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2314
How to create, use and share contact groups (distribution lists) in Outlook or OWA


Note: This article applies only to Outlook 2010 and 2007 as used on a Windows PC, or to Outlook Web App (OWA).  If you're using Outlook 2011 on an Apple Mac, please refer to FAQ 2276 instead.

If there is a group of people you email repeatedly with Outlook or Outlook Web App (OWA), you can set up a contact group (known as a distribution list in Outlook 2007 and earlier versions) to make this more convenient.

It's also possible to share a contact group once you've created it.

Contents

  1. Creating a contact group in Outlook 2010
  2. Creating a distribution list in Outlook 2007
  3. Creating a contact group in Outlook Web App (OWA)
  4. Pasting addresses into a contact group
  5. Sharing contact groups
  6. Sending email to a contact group

Creating a contact group in Outlook 2010

  1. Select Contacts (bottom left of the Outlook window).
  2. Click on New Contact Group in the toolbar.
  3. Enter a name for your contact group in the Name: box.
  4. Click on Add Members in the toolbar.   You then have a choice of actions:
    • Click From Outlook Contacts if you want to add addresses from your own Contacts; or
    • Click From Address Book to add addresses from the Global Address List; or
    • Click New E-mail Contact to add one or more names and email addresses by hand.
    • You can use either of the first two options if you're going to paste in a list of addresses from another source.

    Outlook 2010 creating a contact group
  5. If you selected the From Outlook Contacts or From Address Book options, you can add names to your contact group by clicking a name in the list of addresses shown in the Select Members window, then clicking the Members -> button.  Each address selected will appear in the Members box.  You can select several names at a time by holding down the CTRL key while you click on each name (scrolling as necessary) in the Global Address List.  Click OK when done.

    Alternatively with those two options, you can Copy a list of addresses from another source such as a text file, and Paste them into the Members box. See the note about Pasting addresses into a contact group, below.
    Click OK when done.

  6. If you selected the New E-Mail Contact option, you'll be given an Add New Member box to complete, as shown below. Enter the Display Name (usually a real name) and the E-Mail Address as shown in the example here.  We recommend that you un-tick the Add to Contacts option box, otherwise the address will be added to your main contacts.  Click OK to add the new member.
    Repeat step 6 for each member to be added.

    Add a new member to a contact group

  7. Save your contact group by clicking the Save & Close icon at the top left of the window.

Creating a distribution list in Outlook 2007

  1. Select Contacts.
  2. Open the Actions Menu and click on New Distribution List.
  3. Type a name for your distribution list in the Name: box.
  4. Click the Select members icon in the toolbar.
  5. EITHER:
    Add names to your list by clicking a name in the Global Address List, then clicking the Members -> button.  Each address selected will appear in the Members box.  You can select several names at a time by holding down the CTRL key while you click on each name (scrolling as necessary) in the Global Address List.

    OR:
    Alternatively, you can Copy a list of addresses from another source such as a text file, and Paste them into the Members box. See the note about Pasting addresses into a contact group, below.

  6. When you have finished selecting members, click OK.
  7. Save your distribution list by clicking the Save & Close icon at the top left of the screen.

Creating a contact group in Outlook Web App (OWA)

  1. Click on Contacts at the bottom left of the OWA window.
  2. Click the arrow against the New button (top left of the messages pane) and click on Group in the drop-down menu:

    OWA Contacts ... OWA Contacts New Group

  3. Enter a suitable name for the new group in the Group Name box.
  4. Click on Members... under the Group Name box.

    OWA Contacts New Group Name


  5. EITHER:
    Select names for your group by clicking one or more names in the Global Address List, then clicking the Members -> button.  Each address selected will appear in the Members box.  You can select several names at a time by holding down the CTRL key while you click on each name (scrolling as necessary) in the Global Address List.

    OR:
    Alternatively, you can Copy a list of addresses from another source such as a text file, and Paste them into the Members box. See the note below about Pasting addresses into a contact group.  This method will be necessary for addresses such as external addresses that will not be in the Global Address List.

  6. When you have finished adding addresses to the Members box, click OK.
  7. Click on Add to Group so that the selected members are added to the contact group.
  8. Click on Save and Close to save the contact group.

Pasting addresses into a contact group

When copying and pasting a list of addresses for import into a Contact Group or Distribution List, it's important that you ensure the email addresses are correctly formatted, otherwise you may find that your emails are rejected as a result of a header syntax error.

When entering the addresses into a text file or spreadsheet, ready for copying, please type them in the following format:

Real Name <Email address>

where Real Name is the real name or other title for the address, followed by at least one space, and <Email Address> is the email address itself enclosed in angle brackets <like this>.

For example,

Ann Other  <A.N.Other@example.com>

Never enclose the real name or the email address in quotation marks, whether single or double.

When you have added one or more address to the contact group, it should appear as follows:

Outlook 2010: Address added to contact group

There should be no email address shown next to the name in the Name column.  If an email address is shown there, you need to edit the entry so as to show only the person's name.  The email address should only appear in the E-mail column.

Sharing contact groups

Once you've created a contact group, it's possible to make it available to your colleagues.   Full details can be found in FAQ 2504.

Sending email to a contact group

Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007

  1. In Outlook, click on Contacts to enter your Contacts management pane.
  2. Find the required contact group, then right-click its name.
  3. Point the mouse pointer to Create in the drop-down menu, then...
    If using Outlook 2010, select E-mail from the sub-menu.
    If using Outlook 2007, select New Message to Contact from the sub-menu.
  4. Outlook will put the contact group name in the To... box at first.  If you want the contact group in the Cc... or Bcc... box instead, select the contact group name (drag the mouse pointer over it with the left button held down) to highlight it, then drag the name to one of the other boxes, where it should then reappear.
  5. Compose the message as required, then send it.

Outlook Web App (OWA)

  1. Start a New message in the usual way.
  2. Click one of the To:, Cc: or Bcc: box labels to enter the address book.
    If the Bcc: box is not visible and you want to use it, first click on Options..., then click on the Show Bcc option box, then click OK.
  3. Find the required contact group in your Contacts (it will be shown with the name you gave it when you created it).
  4. Click the contact group's name to select it.
  5. Click the To->, Cc-> or Bcc-> label to add the contact group to that box.
    The contact group name will appear in the selected box.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Now compose and send your message as required.

Alternative method for OWA:

  1. Click on Contacts to enter your Contacts management pane.
  2. Find the required contact group.
  3. Right-click on the contact group name, then click on New Message in the drop-down menu.
    This method will however only add the contact group to the To: box - it doesn't give you the choice of using Cc or Bcc.

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This is question number 2314, which appears in following categories:

Created by David Guest on 10 May 2011 and last updated by Andy Clews on 12 November 2013