Mail - Why do wrong addresses pop up?

Joel, one of my friends from the Hershey Apple Core User Group, asked a question that I hear too often.

It seems that when he types an address in Mail, old and incorrect addresses pop up in the To field.

This ability for Apple’s Mail program is one of its best features, but it can also be one of the most frustrating ones. There is a special list of previous email recipients that Mail keeps track of. To see the list, go to the Window menu in Mail and select Previous Recipients.

A window like this one will appear. I have resized the columns so that I have not exposed the addresses of my friends and clients.

This is a list of all the people you have sent email to since you began using Mail, cleared the list, or removed addresses. If you have made mistakes in typing in addresses, those are also captured. Look at this name in my list:

If I type in Still, Mail will fill it in as an address. Notice that there is no @ sign, and no email server in the listing--but Mail will still use it.

Is this a bug? No. Mail will allow you to send emails to a whole group of people who are in a special list in your address book and those lists do not have the as a part of their name. The are designated by the Groups list in your Apple Address book.

If you are getting old or incorrect addresses when you are adding recipients to emails, take a few minutes to clean out the errors in Previous Recipients.

Le’s spend a few more minutes to explore some of the things you can do in Previous Recipients.

I know that many Apple users don’t realize that the column headers in the window below are actually sort buttons.

If you click on the name button, the list will be sorted alphabetically by the person’s name. Do you see the little arrow at the end of the Name button? That arrow determines the sort order. If the arrow is pointing up, the list will be sorted from A to Z by last name. If the arrow points down, the list will be sorted from Z to A (The items without names will be at the bottom of the list in Previous Recipients).

If you click the Email button, the Previous Recipients list will be sorted by email addresses. Again, the triangles will determine the sort order.

If you click the Last Used button, the Previous Recipients List will be sorted by the date you last used the address. In this case, the up arrow will put the oldest addresses at the top. The down arrow will put the most recently used addresses at the top of the list.

Did you notice the little icon that appears before Frederick Apple C? That icon lets me know that the email address for Frederick Apple C is in my Address Book.

The next time you are on hold on the telephone, consider cleaning up your Previous Recipients list. Begin by looking for incomplete addresses. Then sort the addresses by name and delete older addresses when you have multiple addresses for the same person, consider eliminating the older ones. Think about eliminating addresses that you have not used in several years. Highlight addresses for friends that are not in your address book and use the button in the lower right corner of the window to add them to your address book.

If your addresses are in really bad shape, you may want to select all of the addresses (Command A), press the Remove from List button and start all over again!

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