When you type a name into the TO: field in a new e-mail message, Outlook looks it up and completes it automatically, if possible.

It doesn’t look where you think.

The list that drops down immediately is NOT from your Contacts folder. That first dropdown list is Outlook’s memory of names from prior messages, stored in a “nickname cache.” The most recent ones are at the top.

  • This list is not directly accessible. It’s stored in a file named _____.NK2, usually in Documents and Settings(User Name)Application DataMicrosoftOutlook.
  • If you want to delete a name from the list, use the up/down arrows to highlight the name, then press Delete.
  • If the nickname list is corrupted, here’s Microsoft’s explanation of how to reset it.

If you type a name in the TO: field and the nickname list doesn’t help, then Outlook looks it up in your Contacts folder. That almost always takes 2-3 seconds. Some people move quickly and mistakenly decide that Outlook doesn’t have an auto-complete feature.

  • You can type a few letters, then press Ctrl-K to force Outlook to look up the name immediately. (There’s also a “Check Names” button that you’ve never noticed.)
  • If you type a name and move away from the TO: field, you’ll see Outlook change the name to the recipient’s e-mail address, if there’s only one person in your Contacts folder with that name.
  • If there’s more than one contact matching the name you typed, a squiggly line will appear under the name. You can right-click on the name and choose from a list of possibilities.
  • If you don’t choose the name ahead of time, Outlook will stop and ask for clarification before it sends the message.
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