Delete an Address From Mac Mail's Auto-Complete List

When auto-completion becomes more annoying than helpful

Man using Mac macbook air

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Apple's Mail application in Mac OS X and macOS completes a recipient's email address as you start typing it in the To, Cc, or BCC fields of an email if you used it before or entered it on a Contact card. If you have used more than one address, it displays all the options beneath the name as you type it. You just click on the one you want to use.

Sometimes, people change email addresses. If a friend changes job frequently, you may end up with a string of defunct email address for that person. Having the Mail app try to auto-complete with a defunct email address is annoying, but there's a way to delete old or merely unwanted addresses from the Auto-Complete list in Mail. Any new address is remembered automatically, and soon the auto-complete feature is useful again.

Delete a Recurring Email Address Using the Auto-Complete List

Although Apple deleted Remove From Previous Recipients List from the To options of a new email, you can still delete previous recipients using the Auto-Complete List.

When you want to clean up or delete the auto-complete addresses for several people, it is easy to work directly in the Auto-Complete list. To remove an email address from the auto-complete list in Mac OS X Mail or macOS Mail:

  1. Open the Mail application in Mac OS X or macOS.

  2. Click Window in the menu bar and select Previous Recipients to open a list of individuals to whom you have sent emails in the past. Entries are listed alphabetically by email address. Also included in the list is the date you last used the email address.

  3. Select the search field, and type the name or email address of the person you want to remove from the Previous Recipients list. You may see several listings for a person in the search results screen.

  4. Click on the email address you want to remove to highlight it and then click the Remove From List button at the bottom of the screen. If you want to remove all the listings for a person with more than one email address, click in the search results field, use the keyboard shortcut Command+A to select all the results, and then click Remove From List. You can also hold down the Command key while you select multiple entries. Then, click the Remove From List button.

This method does not remove email addresses that are entered on a card in the Contacts application. 

Remove Previous Email Address From Contacts Card

If you've entered information for an individual on a Contacts card, you can't delete their old email addresses using the Previous Recipients list. For those people, you have two options:

  1. Open the Contacts application. Locate the individual's card and manually remove the old information.

  2. In a new email, type the person's name in the To field. Click the small arrow at the end of the name or email address and click Show Contact Card to open the contact card where you can make the deletion.

If you want to confirm that the email address has been removed, open a new email and enter the recipient's name in the To field. You won't see the address you just removed in the list that appears.