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

When Auto-Completion Becomes More Annoying Than Helpful

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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 have 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.

Neither of the methods here deletes an email address that you have entered onto a card in the Contacts application. However, it is easy to go to the card to make the deletion, if you so choose.

Delete a Recurring Email Address From a New Email

If you only have one person's errant email addresses to deal with, do it directly in a new mail screen:

  1. Open a new email in the Mac OS X or macOS Mail application.
  2. Type the name of a recipient in the To field. As you type, a list of possible results appears under the name.
  3. Click on an email address that you want to remove in the list of options that appears to enter the address in the To field.
  1. Click the small arrow at the end of the email address in the To field.
  2. Select Remove From Previous Recipients List.
  3. If the person has a card in the Contacts application with the email address you are trying to remove, you won't see the Remove From Previous Recipients option. Instead, you'll see the option to select Show Contact Card. Click it to open the contact card and make the deletion there.

    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. 

    Note: Siri may find addresses for your recipient in other applications. If that happens, Mail first displays the previous recipient entries when you enter a recipient's name in the To field and then draws a line under them before indicating that Siri has discovered additional addresses elsewhere.

    Remove Email Addresses From the Auto-Complete List

    If you want to clean up or delete the auto-complete addresses for several people, it is easier 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. They are listed alphabetically by email address. Also included in the list is the date you last used the email address. 
    3. In the search field, 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.
    1. 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. Go to the Contacts card and delete the old email address there.