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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The 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 Contacts card. If you have used more than one address for that person, Mail displays all the options beneath the name as you type it, and you click on the one you want to use.

However, people change email addresses. There's a way to delete old or unwanted addresses from the Auto-Complete list in Mail. The Mail application remembers and new addresses automatically, and soon the auto-complete feature is useful again.

Delete a Recurring Email Address Using the Auto-Complete List

When you want to remove auto-complete addresses, you can do it by working directly in the Previous Recipients 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 in the drop-down menu to open a list of individuals to whom you have sent emails in the past.

    Location of Previous Recipients option in Mac Mail
  3. Entries are listed alphabetically by email address. Also included in the list is the date you last used the email address.

    Previous Recipients list

    Select the search field and start typing 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 as you type.

    Previous Recipients in Mail on a Mac
  4. Click on the email address you want to remove to highlight it and then click Remove From List button at the bottom of the screen.

    Selection on a Previous Recipients list

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. 

To remove several listings, 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 Addresses From Contacts Card

If you've entered information for individuals on a Contacts card, you can't delete their old email addresses using the Previous Recipients list. For those people, you must open the Contacts application. Locate the individual's card and manually remove the old email information.

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.