Learn to Clean up the macOS Mail Auto-Complete List

Delete old addresses from the Mail app address-completion list

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MacOS Mail has a good memory when it comes to recalling the people you've emailed in the past. Its memory is so good, Mail never forgets any email address until you manually remove it.

Sometimes, though, you run across an old address that you never email anymore, and it is getting in the way when you send a message to someone with a similar address, or to the same person who no longer uses that old address.

You can remove the email address of a single person, but instead of deleting just one entry from the list, why not remove all the deadbeat addresses you no longer need? You can do so by selecting multiples at once.

Clean up the Auto-Complete List in MacOS Mail

Follow these steps to clean up the auto-complete list of previous recipients' addresses in macOS Mail:

  1. Select Window > Previous Recipients from the Mail menu.

  2. Click the Last Used header so the addresses are sorted with the least recently used on top. If the list contains a lot of entries dated several years ago, you can safely batch-remove them by year — either because you don't contact that person anymore or that person uses a newer email address.

  3. To select a group of old entries, click the first entry and then Shift-click the last one to highlight them all. Review the list. If you see one or more entries in the group you don't want to delete, Command + Shift them to unhighlight them.

  4. Click Remove From List to delete all the highlighted old entries.

To unselect a group of highlighted entries, Option-click on one of them, which unselects all but the entry you click on.

If you don't want to work on such a wholesale level, you can search for specific individuals using the search box at the top of Previous Recipients. Enter a person's name and immediately see all the email addresses Mail has stored for that person and the dates you last used them. Depending on the last date of use, you may be able to safely remove all but the most recent email address for that person.

If you have an email address entered on a Contact card for someone in the Contacts app, you can't delete the address in the Previous Recipients screen. You have to remove it from the Contact card.