Working with Outlook

Managing Email Contacts

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xyzManaging your email contacts is an on-going exercise as people come and go in your life, and as people change jobs and email addresses. I telecommute and work from my 'home' office more than I work from my employer's business 'office' these days, and I carry and use the business's notebook between premises.

The business licences Microsoft Office 2003 Outlook for their corporate email, so that is what I use. Mostly, Outlook does a pretty good default job of getting you up-and-running straight out-of-the-box with little configuration required. However, if you're like me and need to maintain an audit trail of your correspondence, you will need to manage your emails, and your contacts. The remainder of this topic is about managing your Outlook contacts.
For details about managing your email, see Jump across to separate topicConfiguring Outlook email.

When I'm at the business office, I plug directly into the office network, log-in, and Outlook connects directly to the business's email server to send and receive my emails. It uses the email type "EX" (whatever that is?). Alternatively, when I'm at my home office (away from the business office), I connect wirelessly to the home network, log-in locally, and Outlook connects remotely with the POP3 (Post Office Protocol version 3) account facilities provided by my personal website to send and receive my emails using the email type "SMTP" (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). Whilst at home, Outlook remains 'offline' to the business's network email server, and uses its offline settings.

Once setup, this mostly works just fine, however, managing my email contacts sometimes becomes a problem whenever Outlook tries to "help" me, by automatically changing things behind the scenes. One such annoyance occurs whenever I try to add an email address to my personal contacts list whilst that address exists in the business Offline Address Book.

The problem is that Outlook automatically changes the personal Contact address to the relative address from the Offline Address Book, thus breaking the full SMTP address in my personal Contacts list. The result is that whenever I attempt to send an SMTP email (via my personal website email server) containing a relative email address, the whole email is bounced back without having been sent to anyone, because my personal website email server doesn't contain relative links to my business network email server. It requires a full SMPT address for all recipients.

To overcome this "helpful" behaviour of Outlook, I have had to create a separate SMTP address for every contact (in the business Offline Address Book) that I wish to email whilst I'm away from the business office (offline to the business email server) and add those contacts to my personal Contacts list. However, they must be added as a full SMTP address, not a relative address, and this is where Outlook "helps" and breaks any I attempt to add directly.

I have much trouble getting the full SMTP style address to "stick" with my contacts, for example, when I manually create a "new" contact, because Outlook changes them when I save the contact details. I have, however, found a workaround. See Jump down to subjectHow to add an SMTP email address to your personal Contacts list.

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To add an SMTP email address to your personal Contacts list:

  1. In Outlook, create a new 'Distribution List' (Ctrl+Shift+L).

    This will display the 'Untitled - Distribution List' dialog.
    Don't worry about naming the list, because we won't be saving it.

  2. Click the Add New... button.

    Outlook's Add New Member dialog box

  3. Enter appropriate details for the 'Display name' and 'E-mail address' fields, and make certain that you check the 'Add to Contacts' box. (This is the trick to add an SMTP address to your contacts list.)
  4. Click OK.

    This will save the contact in the contacts list (which is what we want) and will close the 'Add New Member' dialog. If it prompts you that the contact is being duplicated, select "Add this as a new contact anyway" and click OK. You will need to view the Outlook Address Book to determine which is appropriate, and delete the duplicated contact. See the comment after this procedure for details.

    Tip Tip

    If you have more than one contact to add, repeat steps 2–4 as required.

  5. Close the 'Untitled - Distribution List' dialog without saving, as it's not required anymore.
    When it prompts you save the changes, click No.

You should check your Outlook Address book (Ctrl+Shift+B) to see that the contact has been entered properly. Once created in this manner, Outlook does not change the address, so inspecting the properties of the contact is safe. View the 'E-mail type' column, and confirm that it lists as "SMTP". This address will now work with your POP3 account.


See Also

Jump across to separate topic Configuring Outlook Email | Jump across to separate topic Customising Outlook Email Settings | Jump across to separate topic Using Outlook to retrieve email from your POP3 email account | Jump back to site home page Lotech Solutions' Tips, Tricks, and Procedures

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