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How to Organize Your Outlook Contacts

As
a business owner, you need to keep track of your contacts. Lost contact
information could mean a lost opportunity to do business. You can’t follow
through with a potential customer if you don’t know how to reach them. With
Microsoft Outlook, your contact list is as close as your email with your
Outlook contacts list.

If
you know how, you can do a lot with your MS Outlook contacts. You can create
contact lists in Outlook, share contacts and contact lists with other tools and with other
email users, and even send group messages. Learning how to make the most of
your Outlook contacts is a great way to get organized.

In
this tutorial, you’ll learn all the basics including how to add contacts to
Outlook and how to create a contact group in Outlook. We’ll also examine some
of the more advanced features such as how to share a contact group in Outlook.
Let’s get started.

Why
Your Microsoft Outlook Contacts Are Important

A
contact in MS Outlook is a person or business that you contact frequently. For
frequent contacts, Outlook allows you to keep multiple online address books
right inside your email.

Each entry in your email address book is known as a contact.
As a business professional, or just someone who relies on email, having your
address books online is convenient. It also means you never need to worry about
losing a contact’s information again.

To
find your Outlook address book, click the Address
Book
icon (it looks like an open book) on the right of your Home tab. The Address Book: Contacts dialog box displays with some basic
information about each contact:

Address Book Contacts dialog box
You’ll see some basic information about your contacts in the Address Book: Contacts dialog box.

Your default address book is Contacts – [Your Email Address], but you can create additional
address books as needed.

To view more detailed information about a
contact, double-clic
k on their name to open their contact card: 

A contact card in the MS Outlook address book
An MS Outlook contact card contains detailed contact information.

As
you can see, your contact card includes more than just your contact’s email
address. In addition to the ability to store up to three email addresses for
each contact, there are fields for you to enter the following information:

  • Job title
  • Web page address
  • IM address
  • Phone
    numbers (Business, Home, Business Fax, Mobile, and many more)
  • Addresses
    (up to three physical addresses per contact)

You
can even attach an image to the contact card if you’ve got one. Plus, there’s a
Notes field for you to type
additional information.

Not
only does your Outlook address book allow you to organize and find contact
information quickly, you can also use it to send group emails by means of
contact groups. Learn more about Microsoft Outlook in these tutorials:

Learn Helpful Email Organizational Tips & Strategies

Before we tackle to topic of how to organize your MS Outlook contacts, don’t forget to sign up to the Tuts+
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Now let’s move on to learning about contacts and contact groups in MS Outlook:

1. How to Create New Contacts in MS Outlook

Now
that you understand the importance of your Outlook address book, you’re ready
to begin building your contact list by creating new contacts. There are
basically two methods you can use to add contacts to Outlook:

  1. from
    within an address book
  2. from
    within an email

Let’s
examine each method separately.

Step
1. How to Add Contacts to Outlook From Your Address Book

This
method of adding contact information is especially helpful if you’ve got
business cards you want to add to your contacts in MS Outlook. Having your
contact information neatly organized in your email inbox is much better than
keeping a stack of cards, which might get lost or accidentally discarded.

To
start, open an address book in MS Outlook and right-click anywhere within the
address book. A pop-up menu appears:

Address book pop-up menu
Click the New Entry option to add a new contact to your address book.

Click
the New Entry option. The New Entry dialog box displays:

Outlook New Entry dialog box
You can add a new contact or a new contact group from the New Entry dialog box.

Select the New
Contact
option and click OK.
You’ll see a blank Contact Card:

A contact card in the MS Outlook address book
The contact card allows you to store a variety of information about each contact in your Outlook address book.

Fill
out each contact field with the appropriate information.

Whenever
you see a down arrow the right of a field, you can click on it add additional
information. In the example below, there are three types of addresses you can
add to a contact card: 

A closer look at the Address field on a contact card
You can store more than one physical address for each contact.

When
you’ve finished typing in your contact’s information, select Save & New to save the contact and
continue adding contacts to your address book. Or, select Save & Delete to return to the Address Book: Contacts dialog box.

Step
2. How to Add Contacts to Outlook from an Email

When
you receive an email from a new contact and you want to save their information
in your MS Outlook address book, it’s easy to do so. Start with the email that
contains the contact information open:

Saving a contact from an email
You can save contact information from emails you receive in Outlook. 

Right-click
on the sender’s address. A pop-up menu appears:

Adding a contact to MS Outlook
Use the Add to Outlook Contacts option to add a new contact to your address book from an email.

Select
the Add to Outlook Contacts option.
A contact card opens with the sender’s name and email address already filled.
If you’ve got additional information about this contact, add it to their
contact information now.

When
you’re done adding information click Save
& Close
or Save & New to
save the contact to your address book.

Step
3. How to Add an Image to an Contact

If
you’ve got it, you can add an image or logo to a contact card. Start by opening
the contact card of the individual you want to add the image to. Click the Add Contact Picture icon to the right
of the individual’s name. A browser window opens:

Browser window for adding image to Outlook contact
You can add an image to your MS Outlook contact.

Navigate to the file with the image you want to add. Click
on it to select it and click OK. The
image you selected now appears on the contact card:

MS Outlook contact card with image
You can add a photo or a graphic image to an MS Outlook contact card.

Step 4. How to Delete a Contact

Occasionally, you may want to delete a contact. The
information may no longer be valid, or you may no longer need it.

Fortunately,
it’s easy to delete a contact in Outlook. Start by opening the Address Book: Contacts dialog box. Click
the name of the contact you want to delete to select it. Next, right-click
anywhere in the dialog box. The pop-up menu displays:

Address book with pop-up menu
Select the name of the contact in the address book, then click Delete.

Select
the Delete option. The system
prompts you to confirm that you really want to delete the contact:

Contact deletion prompt
Click the Yes button to delete the selected contact.

Click
Yes and the contact is removed from
your MS Outlook address book.

3. Build a Contact Group

If
you need to send more than one message to the same group of people, a contact
group can help you save time by letting you send the same message to all
members in your group at one time. By using a contact group, you can be sure
everyone got the same information. Best of all, you eliminate the risk of
forgetting to send the email to someone—which you might do if you emailed each
group member separately.

(Note:
This feature was known as the
Distribution List in some earlier versions of Outlook.
)

Let’s
take a closer look at contact groups.

Step
1. How to Create a Contact Group in Outlook

Start
by opening the People window. Click
on the three dots in the lower left corner MS Outlook. The Navigation Options pop-up menu appears:

Navigation Options pop-up menu
Select the People option from the Navigation pop-up menu.

Select
the People option from the pop-up
menu. The People window displays
with a complete list of your contacts:

People window in Outlook
You can see a complete list of your Outlook contacts on the People window.

Click the New Contact
Group
in the Ribbon. An empty Contact Group window appears:

Empty Contact Group window
Use the Contact Group window to create a new contact group.

Type the name of the contact group you wish to create in the
Name field. Now that you’ve created
a new contact group, you’re ready to begin adding contacts to it.

Step 2. How to Add Contacts to an Outlook Contact Group

To add new contacts to a contact group, start
with the empty Contact Group window
open. Click the Add Member icon in
the ribbon. A pop-up menu displays:

Adding a member to an Outlook Contact Group
To add members to an Outlook contact group, choose between Outlook contacts, your address book, or a new email contact.

You
can choose between selecting members from your existing Outlook contacts, from
your address book, or creating a new email contact to add to the contact group.

If
you choose the From Outlook Contacts or the From Address Book option from the
pop-up menu, the Select Members:
Contacts
window displays. You can choose a contact name from that.

For this example, we’re going to choose the New E-mail Contact option. Rather than
getting the full contact card, the Add
New Member
dialog box appears:

Add New Member dialog box
Use the Add New Member dialog box to add members to your Outlook contact group.

Type
in the name and address of the contact you wish to add to the group. Notice
that the checkbox next to Add to
Contacts
is checked by default. If you uncheck it, the contact will be
added to your new contact group, but not to your address book. This can be
helpful if you only need to contact this person as part of the group.

Once
you’ve entered your information, click OK.
The contact is now added to your contact group. Continue adding as many
contacts to the group as you need. 

When you’re done adding members to your new contact group,
click the Save & Close icon in
the upper left of the Contact Group
window.

Step 3. How to Use Your Contact Group

The
next time you’re ready to send a message to the members of your contact group,
simply type the contact group name in the To
field. Click the Send button when your message is complete. The message will be sent to all members of your contact group:

Type the contact group name into the To field
Type your contact group name into the To field of a new message to send it to all contact group members.

Step
4. How to Rename a Contact Group

After
you’ve created a contact group, you can rename it. For example, if a project
ends and the project group is assigned to a new project you might want to
rename your contact group.

To
rename your group, open the Navigation
pop-up menu and select the People
option:

People option on the Navigation pop-up menu
Use the People option on the Navigation pop-up menu to open the Contacts window.

The
Contacts window appears:

The Contacts window in Outlook
Contact groups appear at the top of the Contacts window.

The
contact group name appears at the top of the contact list (next to the people
icon). Click the contact group to
select it. Double-click on the selected contact group to open the Contact Group window:

Renaming a contact group
You can rename an existing contact group.

Type
a new contact group name in the Name
field. When you’re done, click the Update
Now
icon. Or, click the Save &
Close
icon to save your changes and exit the window.

Step
5. How to Change the Contacts in an MS Outlook Contact Group

Email lists tend to be fluid. Group members change over time.
Outlook email can help you keep up.

You can quickly and easily change the contact group
members from the Contact Group
window. You can assign new contacts to the contact group or even delete existing
group members.  Start with the Contact Group window open: 

Open Contact Group window
You can change the contact members in an existing contact group.

Let’s start by adding a new member to the existing contact
group. Double-click the Add Members
icon in the Ribbon. You’re given a
choice to add a member from your Outlook contacts list, your address book, or
to type in a new email contact. After you’ve finished adding a member, click on
the Update Now icon in the Ribbon.

To
remove a member from the contact group, click the member name to select it.
Next, click the Remove Member icon
in the Ribbon. The member’s contact
information is removed from the contact group. (They’re not, however, removed
from your Outlook email contacts list.)

When
you’ve finished making changes to your contact group, click the Save & Close icon on the left of
the Ribbon to exit from the window.

Step
6. How to Delete a Contact Group

From
time to time, you may wish to delete a contact group entirely. Maybe you no
longer need to contact the group members. 

To
delete a contact group from your MS Outlook email, start with the Contacts window open. Your contact
groups appear at the top of the list. 

Click the contact group you want to delete to select it.
Click the Delete icon (it looks like
an X) in the Ribbon. Your contact
group is deleted.

4. Share Contact Info & Contact Groups

Whether
you use your Outlook email for business or personal use, it’s helpful and
timesaving to be able to share contact information with other MS Outlook users
and with Microsoft OneNote. In Outlook, you can share contacts with OneNote or
with other Outlook users.

OneNote
is a note-taking application that’s part of Microsoft Office. To learn more
about OneNote, review this tutorial:

Step
1. How to Send Contact Info to OneNote

Start
with the Contacts window open. Click
on a contact to select them, then click the OneNote icon in the Ribbon.
The Select Location in OneNote
dialog box appears:

Sharing an Outlook contact to OneNote
You can share Outlook contact information with Microsoft OneNote.

Expand
the My Notebook option and select
the OneNote notebook where you want to store the contact information. Click OK. Your information is added to
OneNote in the notebook you selected:

Outlook contact information in MS OneNote
The Microsoft Outlook contact information has been shared to OneNote.

Note: You can also share Outlook contact card information to OneNote.

Step
2. How to Share a Contact or Contact Group in Outlook

If someone else needs your contact information or even your
contact group, you can quickly and easily share the information with them
through Outlook email.

Start with the Contacts
window open. Click on the Outlook item you want to share to select it. The item
can be a contact group or an individual contact. In this example, I’m demonstrating how to share a contact group in Outlook. 

Click Forward Contact on the Ribbon
to bring up the pop-up menu:

Forwarding contact information through Outlook
You can forward Outlook contact or contact group information to someone else.

Note: Contact groups can only be forwarded as an Outlook contact. Individual contacts
can be forwarded as either an Outlook contact or a business card.

Select
the option for the format of the contact item. An email Compose window opens with the contact item already attached:

Outlook Compose wincow
The Outlook contact group information you’re sharing is attached to the email.

Type
in the email address of the person you want to receive the information. It’s
also a good idea to add some text in the body of the message so your item
doesn’t end up in the spam folder. When you’re done, click the Send button.

Practical
Ways to Use Your Contact Groups

Once
you’ve entered your contacts into Outlook and organized them into groups you’ll
find that there are many uses for Outlook contact groups. Here are just few ideas:

  1. Project messages.
    If you need to send the same information to all your project team members,
    contact groups are a great tool. Make sure everyone on your team is on the same
    page.
  2. Meetings.
    While there are other ways to send out meeting notices, sending one through
    email via a contact group allows you to add attachments and other details.
  3. Announcements.
    If your business does company-wide announcements, or even department-wide
    announcements a group email sent using a contact list can help get the word
    out.
  4. Notifications
    and alerts
    . If you need to alert a group of clients about a software
    upgrade or other system changes, a contact list can ensure your message reaches
    the right people.
  5. Social
    events
    . Contact groups are also a great tool for organizing social events
    such as parties, group get-togethers, sporting events and other social
    occasions.

Using
a contact group to send a message to more than one person is practical and
timesaving. Once you become comfortable
using contact groups, you’ll be able to think of your own unique uses for them.

Organize Your Email With Better Inbox Management

You’re less likely to have a cluttered MS Outlook inbox if you’re following good email management practices. Learn how to
reduce your email inbox clutter
with our free eBook:
 

Free eBook PDF Manage Your Inbox

Conclusion

Now
that you know how to add contacts to Outlook and how to organize those contacts
into contact groups once you’ve added them, you’re ready to make full use of MS Outlook contacts for your business and personal life. Start by creating a
contact group in Outlook today.

How do you use Outlook contacts in your business? Do you
make use of MS Outlook contact groups? Share your thoughts (or tips) in the
comments below.