Monday, July 1, 2002

Tips for managing contacts in Outlook


By Diane Poremsky

Outlook does more than just manage email. Besides managing your calendar and tasks, it also is a satisfactory contact manager -- possibly not as good as some dedicated contact managers, but for most users it meets their needs. After keeping email addresses, the next most popular use of the Contacts portion is as an address book. Most people are familiar with mail merge or the Actions | New Letter to Contact wizard, but those aren't your only options. You can export the contact information to Word or Excel, as well as copy and paste, or use Office XP's Smart Tags (remember them?) to insert contact data into Office documents.

I'll bet you're thinking "Copy and paste? That's too much work." You're right. It can be a lot of work -- unless you use views to your advantage. Create a table view that shows all of the fields you need copied, then select the record (or records) you want copied and type Control-C to copy. Move to the Office document and press Control-V to paste. If you want to use a card view, be sure to use Edit | Paste Special and paste as text, not files, which is the default paste action for address card view. All visible fields are copied and pasted into the document. It's easy and it's fast too.

If you have Office XP, you can use Smart Tags to insert addresses into letters. Type a contact's name and it is underlined with a fine red line when the Smart Tag recognizes it as a name. You need to type the contacts full display name for this to work, but if there is a matching contact, you can click on the icon and insert the address, send mail, schedule a meeting or open the Contact record.

The default Smart Tag only inserts the mailing address field, however other Smart Tags are available which will insert or use the other fields. I'm adding the final touches on a suite of enhanced Smart Tags, one of which will dial the contact's phone number. You can find the suite of Smart Tags later this summer at Look for other Smart Tags using the short cut in Tools | Autocorrect Options | Smart Tags tab | More Smart Tags or at

If you want to send professional looking mail, you should verify the addresses against the US Postal Service's National Address database. There are several add-ins for use with Word or Outlook that that use MAILERS+4 CASS certified search engine to search the national database, including Address Fixer from and a variety of services and products from Melissa Data, at

After all this, since you have the addresses entered into Word, why not print the postage you need to complete your mailing? and ClickStamps from Pitney Bowes are two of the more popular internet postage services. Both are capable of accessing Outlook's contacts for addresses and integrates with Word.