six colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

By Dan Moren

Tip: Excise old email addresses from Mail

Previous Recipients

While on a freelance assignment for an old colleague of mine the other day, I forwarded him a relevant email. The next day, not having heard back, I checked to see if he’d received it: nope. So I revisited my Sent box and found the email, sure enough with his name in the To field…and then I checked the address.

As you may remember, last year around this time a bunch of my former co-workers were looking for new jobs. And while I’ve since updated most of their contact information, Mail’s dirty little secret is that its handy autocomplete database—which suggests email addresses as you enter recipients in the To, CC, or BCC fields—is only partially drawn from your contacts.

So what to do when your colleague’s old, non-functioning work address still pops up as the top suggestion for them?

Here’s what.

In Mail go to the Window menu and choose Previous Recipients. Search for your contact’s name (or part of the address)1, and you should be presented with a list of matches. Choose the address(es) you want to axe and click Remove From List. VoilĂ ! Next time you type their name into the To field, all those old addresses should be a thing of the past.


  1. The search algorithm is a little weird. It appears to match against any part of a name, but only against the beginning of an address. So I can search for “Dan Moren” but in searching for “dmoren@macworld.com” I can search for “dmoren”, but not “macworld”. Odd.  ↩

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]