I have Outlook 2010 on a Windows 7 laptop. When I go to send an email, if I start typing a contact's last name in the "TO" line, Outlook will not auto-populate a list of names that fit the description of what I have typed so far. However, if I start typing the first name instead, the auto-fill feature will work properly based on what I have typed so far.

The company I work for has 20k+ employees. If I want to email someone like "Michael Hutch", typing the first name "Michael" gives me a list of around 800 names to choose from. However, if I type "Hutch" the auto-complete won't list any names.

My old laptop with Outlook 2003 was able to auto-complete by last names. Is there a way to enable this in Outlook 2010?

  • You could go through your contacts and change each name from, say, "Michael Hutch" to "Hutch, Michael". Would that be feasible? – Dr Kitty Jun 22 '12 at 21:25
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    Related question at answers.microsoft.com: answers.microsoft.com/en-us/msoffice/forum/…. It looks like there's nothing to do, and some Microsoft employees/MVPs are explaining that everything works as expected. Yay for a great user experience! – Fabio says Reinstate Monica Sep 13 '17 at 13:09
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    What happens if you type "Hutch" followed by Ctrl+K (or alternatively in the Message tab, Names group, click the button Check Names.)? Do you have more than one Address book? – harrymc Jan 3 '18 at 15:30


When searching for a recipient based on text you type in the “To”, “CC”, or “BCC” fields, auto-complete looks at the following fields:

  1. Display Name (i.e. Jane K. Doe)

  2. Primary SMTP E-mail address (i.e. Jane_Doe@domain.com)

  3. Exchange Alias (i.e. janedoe)

  4. legacyExchangeDN attribute in Active Directory (more on this later)

Auto-complete does NOT search against any of the following criteria:

First Name (if it is different from the display name, for example if the display name contained a nickname instead of the legal first name, which is listed in the recipients’ “first name” field in Active Directory)

Last Name (unless one of the above four fields starts with the last name)

Username (unless one of the above four fields starts with the username, or is set to match the username)

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    This doesn't really answer the question. It explains the fields that autocomplete uses to suggest email addresses, but it doesn't help the OP figure out if there's a way to get it to sort by last name, or explain why it's not possible. For example, can a person control the display name or Exchange Alias, or if they are sending to people in a GAL is this set by the Exchange admin? – Adam Wuerl Feb 1 '13 at 20:55

To search by last-name, you must change the order in which Display Name is constructed from the first and last names.

To do that in Outlook 2010 :

  • Go into File > Info > Account Settings > Account Settings
  • In the Address Books tab, click the address book in question, and then the Change button
  • In the dialog box, check "File As (Smith, John)"
  • Click the Close button


I remark that Autocomplete shows addresses of people you’ve sent messages to previously. Autoresolution/Autoresolve is the one that looks in your Contacts folder or other address book. You may populate the Autocomplete list by an entire address book by sending a message to all the contacts (doing that in Offline mode will let you delete it before it is really sent), although I don't know if this will work for a 20K+ list.

To do Autoresolve, type "Hutch" followed by Ctrl+K, or alternatively in the Message tab, Names group, click the button Check Names.

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  • Will this work for a global address book? My company has a shared list of employee emails. – Stevoisiak Jan 5 '18 at 18:42
  • By default the GAL is searched first. I don't have experience with making this work for the GAL - you will have to experiment and see. At worst you could try the "GAL to Autocomplete list" trick I described above. – harrymc Jan 5 '18 at 19:56
  • Unfortunately, it appears that the Account Settings method does not work for the Global Address List. – Stevoisiak Jan 9 '18 at 15:17
  • You might need help from the administrator of the GAL. – harrymc Jan 10 '18 at 8:18

Type the last name and then click the "Check Names" button:

Check Names Button

This will bring up a window that lists all contacts with that last name.

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