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Suggested Contacts in Outlook 2010

What the new Suggested Contacts folder does - and does not do.

by Office Watch

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One of the new features introduced in MS Outlook 2010 is Suggested Contacts folder. It will appear in your folder list when you install Office 2010 with no immediate explanation of what it is or what it does.

Once the email setting is successfully configured in Outlook 2010 if you click the Contacts link then you will find a folder “Suggested Contacts” below the Contacts folder under My Contacts.

Suggested contact folder image from Suggested Contacts in Outlook 2010 at Office-Watch.com

Initially this folder will be empty. As you start sending out emails those addresses which are not already in your Contacts folder will be stored automatically in the Suggested Contacts folder.

Suggested contacts image from Suggested Contacts in Outlook 2010 at Office-Watch.com

The main objective of suggested contacts is to cut the effort of saving required email addresses manually and prompt people to fill in their Contacts list.

When sending emails Outlook will check if the address is already present in the Contacts. If not it will create a Suggested Contact for you. You can move any email addresses from the Suggested Contacts folder to the main Contacts folder and add some more information about the person or company.

When you add any new contacts to your address book you have the option of either adding it to the Suggested Contacts folder or the Main Contacts folder. Unless you have some good reason – put all your Contacts into the main Contacts folder and let Outlook handle the Suggested Contacts folder.

Using Suggested Contacts

After you have run Outlook 2010 for a while, have a look in the Suggested Contacts folder. Browsing through it you’ll see the entries will fall into some broad categories:

One-off addresses

People you have sent emails to but probably never will again. These people don’t need a separate Contact entry.

Leave them listed in Suggested Contacts (it does no harm).

Different Addresses

These are people you have in your contacts list, but now have a different email address that’s NOT recorded in their main contact. When that happens, Outlook 2010 will create a suggested contact because the email addresses are different.

Copy the Suggested Contact to the Contacts list. If the name matches, Outlook will offer to merge the two contacts into a single contact entry. If the names don’t match (most likely the suggested contact has only an email address) then you’ll have to manually edit the main contact with the new address.

New Contacts

A Suggested Contact list may show someone who you want in your Contacts list but never got there.

Simply move the Suggested Contact to the main Contacts list, then open the new Contact and add other details as you wish.

Copying / Moving Suggested Contacts

Items in the Suggested Contacts folder are standard Outlook contact entries; there’s nothing special about them.

Suggested Contacts can be moved or copied just like any other Outlook item. Most likely you’ll drag a suggested contact to the main Contacts folder and drop it.

The long way to do it is on the Home tab of the ribbon. If you click the Home button under Suggested Contacts link the tool bar is displayed which shows various options to work around the suggested contacts.

Suggested contacts menu image from Suggested Contacts in Outlook 2010 at Office-Watch.com

Under Actions | Move there are commands to move or copy the selected entries to another folder.

Editing Suggested Contact Details

Normally you would leave suggested contacts as they are and only edit entries in the Contact folder. However there’s nothing stopping you editing a suggested contact in that folder.

For editing or viewing any contact details in the Suggested Contacts folder you can double click on the contact name. A window displaying all the contact details will pop open.

Contact details image from Suggested Contacts in Outlook 2010 at Office-Watch.com

Here you can add personal information of the contact like full name, picture, company details, display name, telephone numbers, send OneNote, add business card, etc. You can even schedule meeting or call the user if you are signed to an instant messaging application and if both the user and your system environments support these features.

Disabling Suggested Contacts

The concept of suggested contacts may prove a hindrance when you send a lot of ‘one-off’ messages. . All those unwanted email ids will be stored in your suggested contacts list and it may seem unnecessary to record them since you have a record in Sent Items as well.

In such cases you may prefer to do without the Suggested Contacts folder. Click File | Options, In the Outlook Options window click on Contacts link. Here uncheck the option "Automatically create Outlook contacts for recipients that do not belong to an Outlook Address Book" under Suggested contacts. By default this option will be enabled.

Once this option is disabled no more contacts will be added to the Suggested Contacts folder but the existing Suggested Contacts remain.

Disable suggested contact image from Suggested Contacts in Outlook 2010 at Office-Watch.com

Syncronization Problems

The Suggested Contacts folder is setup as a Outlook Address Book folder by default.  This means it is searched when looking for contacts or addresses.

It also means that many sync tools - like the one for Apple iPhone's - will copy the Suggested Contacts folder to your device.  Since the Suggested Contacts folder can get very large and contain a lot of entries you don't need on a portable device, its likely that you will want to stop the sync.

There are various ways to stop syncronization of the Suggested Contacts folder - most of them depend on your particular device and sync software.

However the easiest way is probably in Outlook itself.  Right-click on the Suggested Contacts folder, choose Properties then 'Outlook Address Book'.

Outlook 2010 - Suggested Contacts properties image from Suggested Contacts in Outlook 2010 at Office-Watch.com

Uncheck the 'Show this folder as an e-mail Address Book' option then OK.  This will remove the Suggested Contacts folder as a Contact folder as shown above.  It should also prevent most sync software seeing it as a contacts folder that needs copying.

What Suggested Contacts is not

There’s a lot of strange information going around about the Suggested Contacts feature in Outlook 2010. Sadly when one person posts some wrong info, it gets copied by others without checking.

AutoComplete

When you type an email address in Outlook, a list of possible AutoComplete entries appears. The AutoComplete list is NOT sourced from Suggested Contacts.

AutoComplete has changed in Outlook 2010 but the changes don’t involve Suggested Contacts.

Junk Email and Safe Senders

Optionally email addresses you send messages to can be automatically placed in the Safe Senders list (see Junk Email options | Safe Senders ). Suggested Contacts is NOT a replacement for the Safe Sender list. There is a separate Safe Sender list used by the spam filter.

Capitalization

There are reports that different capitalizations of the same email address are treated as separate Suggested Contact entries. For example, messages to FredDagg@freddagg.com and freddagg@freddagg.com are reportedly and wrongly listed separately. We could not replicate that bug – different capitalizations of the same email address are ignored by Suggested Contacts, as it should.

Article posted: Sunday, 09 May 2010

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