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Create, edit, use and share a contact group in Outlook

The tutorial focuses on the problems you may encounter in Outlook when using a contact group, formerly called "a distribution list". It summarized the most common and convenient solutions. Please click the solutions listed below to go to the corresponding instructions.

Create a contact group in Outlook

Edit a contact group in Outlook

Send an email to a contact group in Outlook

Share and save a contact group in Outlook


Create a contact group in Outlook

You may find situations that you need to send a mass email to the members of a company or a workgroup for business reasons. Or you may need to send a holiday card to all your family members and your friends. For such cases, to create a contact group will save loads of time sending emails one by one. Here our ExtendOffice team have listed the methods to create contact groups from your Outlook contacts, address book, and data in Excel, word or in text form, and to create groups for the senders or recipients in your mailboxes in Outlook.

Create a contact group from Outlook contacts or address book

1. Click People or Contacts on the navigation bar in your Outlook.

2. Under the tab Home, click New Contact Group in the group New.

3. In the Contact Group window, name the contact group in the Name field.

4. Click Add Members in the group Members, choose From Outlook Contacts or From Address Book on the drop-down list according to your needs. (If you want to add only one contact at the moment, and who is not in your Outlook contacts or address book, choose New E-mail Contact.)
contact group 01

5. In the Select Members dialog box, to select multiple discontiguous contacts, hold down the Ctrl key and then click the contacts one by one; to select multiple contiguous contacts, click the first contact, then hold down Shift and select the last one.

6. Click the Members button on the bottom left of the dialog box to add all the selected contacts to the Members field, and then click OK.
contact group 02

7. In the Contact Group window, click Save & Close.


Create a contact group from data in Excel, Word or other applications

contact group 03

contact group 04

Let’s say you received a list of email addresses in an Excel spreadsheet, Word document or other applications as shown above. To bulk add the addresses to a contact group in your Outlook, please do as follows:

1. Click People or Contacts on the navigation bar in your Outlook.

2. Under the tab Home, click New Contact Group in the group New.

3. In the Contact Group window, name the contact group in the Name field.

4. Click Add Members in the group Members, choose From Outlook Contacts.

5. Copy the data in your Excel spreadsheet or Word document.

6. In the Select Members dialog box, paste the data in the Members field, and then click OK.
contact group 05

7. In the Contact Group window, click Save & Close.

√ Note: Each email address needs to be separated with a semicolon or paragraph mark (one name and address per line). If there is no name, the address will be used for the display name in the contact group.


Create a contact group for recipients or senders in your mailbox

If you want to add all the recipients and senders of a mail or multiple mails to a contact group, or if you want to group some of the senders or recipients in your mailbox, you can use the Add to Group feature of Kutools for Outlook, a handy Outlook add-in developed by our team. It will quickly create a contact group according to your needs.

1. Select the mail(s) with the recipients or senders who you want to add to the contact group.

2. Go to the Kutools Plus tab, in the Contact group, click Add to Group.

3. In the Add Recipients to Contact Groups dialog box, select All, All senders, or All recipients on the Scope drop-down list. The boxes next to the email addresses that meet the condition will be checked.

4. At the right side of the dialog box, select the contact group(s) where you want to add the addresses to; Or you can create a new contact group by clicking New contact group, then check the box next to it. Click OK.
contact group 06

If you don’t have our Outlook add-in installed, click here to download. Or you can use a more clunky way: copy the addresses of the senders of recipients that you want to add to a contact group, then, paste them in the Members field in the Select Members dialog box. For more details, please refer to the 4th-7th steps of creating a contact group from Outlook contacts or address book.


Edit a contact group in Outlook

There are times when we need to edit our contact groups: There are personnel changes in your company, colleagues and projects come and go, so that you need to add or remove some members; The members in a contact group are kind of mixed, so you want to break the group into two or more groups; Two departments merged so you need to merge two contact groups……

Before we do so, we need to find where the groups are:

If you are in the view of Mail, please click the Address Book in the group Find under the tab Home, and then search for the group in the pop-up dialog box; If you have shifted to People or Contacts view on the navigation bar in your Outlook, you can find the group in the list of your contacts by typing its name in the search box above the list.
contact group 07

After you find the contact group, double-click on its name to open the Contact Group window. Now, find the methods listed below that meet your needs for next move.


Add or remove members from a contact group

• To add members to a contact group, please refer to the 4th-7th steps of creating a contact group from Outlook contacts or address book.

• To remove members from a contact group, select the members in an opened Contact Group window first, then click the Remove Member feature in the group Members. Click Save & Close in the group Actions.


Split a contact group in Outlook

Here we listed two ways to split a contact group in Outlook: One is with its own feature, the other is with the Split to contact group feature of Kutools for Outlook.

• Spilt a contact group in Outlook by copying and removing

Let’s say you need to separate a contact group into two. Please follow the steps below:

1. On the People or Contacts page, search for the contact group you want to edit.

2. Right-click on (don’t let go) the group and drag it a bit above or below, release the mouse button, you will see a short pop-up menu as shown in the screenshot below, click Copy. There will be two same contact groups appearing in the list.

contact group 08 >>> contact group 09

3. Double click to open the both groups, change the names of the groups as you need, for example, ExtendOffice1 and ExtendOffice2. Then remove, let’s say, name 8-15 in the ExtendOffice1, and name 1-7 in the ExtendOffice2.
contact group 10

4. By now, you will have two new smaller contact groups, click Save & Close.
contact group 11

• Easily split a contact group in Outlook with an amazing tool

Or if you have installed our Kutools for Outlook in your computer, to split a contact group, please follow the steps below:

1. Select the contact group that you want to split (Here I selected the group named ExtendOffice test 1 for example).

2. Go to the tab Kutools Plus, find Contact group in the ribbon Contact, select Split to contact group in the drop-down list.

3. In the Split to contact group window, check the boxes next to the group members that you want to move to a new contact group, click Ok.
contact group 12

4. Name the new group in the pop-up dialog box, click OK.
contact group 13

5. The two split contact groups will then appear in the Contacts list, feel free to open the groups to view their members.
contact group 14


Break up a contact group and add its members as contacts in Outlook

To break up, or we say remove, a contact group in Outlook, you can just go to the People or Contacts page and right-click on the group that you want to remove, and click Delete on the pop-up menu. But if you want to add all its members as individual Outlook contacts at the same time, please check the two approaches we listed below:

• Break up a contact group with the build-in feature of Outlook

1. Double click to open the contact group in your Contacts list.

2. Double click on a member that you want to add to your Contacts list.

3. Click the three-dot button to view more options, and then click Add to Outlook Contacts.
contact group 15

4. In the pop-up Contact window, you can add extra information if you need, then click Save & Close.

5. Repeat the steps 2-4 to add all the members.

6. Now go back to the People or Contacts view to delete the contact group.

The method is suitable for the groups that contain only a few members. If the group contains a large number of members, the method would waste too much time. In this case, please check the Break feature of Kutools for Outlook below.

• Easily break up a contact group with Kutools for Outlook

1. Select the contact group that you want to break.

2. Go to the tab Kutools Plus, click Contact group > Break.

3. In the Break window, click All to check all the boxes, then click Ok.

4. A dialog box will pop up asking Do you want to break up this contact group to single contacts? Click Yes.

5. All its members are now added to your Contacts list, and the contact group is deleted at the same time.

√ Note: If you only want to add some of its members to your Contacts list, check the boxes next to the specific members, click Ok to add them to the list while deleting them from the group. The group containing the members that you didn’t check will still exist.

Click to download Kutools for Outlook for a 60-day free trial.


Merge contact groups into one in Outlook

To merge two or more contact groups as one new group. Please follow the steps below:

1. Create a new contact group. (Follow the steps 1-3 of creating a contact group from Outlook contacts or address book.)

2. Click Add Members in the group Members, choose From Outlook Contacts.

3. In the Select Members dialog box, select the contact groups that you want to combine.

4. Click Members on the bottom left of the dialog box, and then click OK.

5. In the Contact Group window, click Save & Close.

√ Note: The method above is very simple and fast. However, the group you created this way is like a big group containing several small ones, it’s not as convenient when you need to edit the group members. Because you will have to open each small group in order to edit. To merge several contact groups, and add only group members to one group. Please check How To Merge Or Combine Distribution Lists In Outlook?


Send an email to a contact group in Outlook

To send an email to one or more contact groups in Outlook, please follow the steps below:

1. In the Mail view, click New Email to start a new message.

2. In the To... field, type the name of the contact group. Outlook will show potential matches from your Contacts list as the picture shown below. If you don’t want the recipients to see each other, type the group’s name in the Bcc... field. (If the field is not showing in the message window, go to the Options tab, and then click Bcc in the group Show Fields.)
contact group 16

In case you don’t remember the group name, you can click To... to open the Select Names window to view all your contacts in your Contacts list. Select the groups that you want to send a message to, then click To, Cc, or Bcc as you need. The names of the groups will show in the corresponding field. (I clicked To as an example here.) Then click OK.
contact group 17

3. Type the subject and body of your email message. Click Send after you finish typing.


Share and save a contact group in Outlook

You may need to send a work-related contact group to a new employee, or share an interest-related group to your friends; you may also receive a contact group shared by others. In this part, we will talk about how to share a contact group, and how to save a contact group sent by others in Outlook.

Share a contact group in Outlook

• You can include the group in an email message and send it to others:

1. In the Mail view, click New Email to create a new message. A Message window will pop up. Adjust the size of the window, move it next to your Outlook window, so that the both windows are visible at the same time.

2. Click People or Contacts from the navigation bar in the Outlook window.

3. Find the contact group that you want to share, and drag it into the message body as an attachment in the Message window.

4. Fill out the information in the Message window as you need, then click Send to share the contact group.

• You can also insert a contact group as an attachment instead of dragging it to a message body:

1. In the Mail view, click New Email to create a new message.

2. Go to the tab Insert in the pop-up Message window, find the Include group, click Outlook Item.

3. In the Insert Item dialog box, select a Contacts folder under certain mailbox to list all the contacts and contact groups in the Items box. Now you can find and select the contact group and then click OK to insert it as an attachment.
contact group 18

4. Fill out the information in the Message window as you need, then click Send to share the contact group.

Save a contact group in Outlook

To save a contact group shared by others in an email message:

1. Open the message that includes the contact group attachment.

2. Drag the attachment to the navigation bar, and drop it on People or Contacts.

This is the simplest approach, you can click People or Contacts to check the newly saved group.


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