If you’ve ever bought a new PC and copied your contacts and emails over from the old one to the new one (i do this often it seems, but for some reason have a mental block where the little dickens are hidden away), you have probably run into this little glitch, you know the one, you go to send an email and your contacts are empty.
Mostly its because of the way Outlook handles .pst files. You can copy your old one over and replace the new one on your new PC but most of the time and you get your old emails but the contacts don’t show up properly. You may notice you have more than one “contacts” folders listed in the sidebar, or in the “New Mail Message” you are creating you see you have no contacts listed in the default address book. If you click on the “ Show Names from the:“ pulldown you should have the option of getting addresses from your old Contacts file. This is a pain if you want to use quick addresses though, so what you need to do is remove the contacts files and address books that are associated with your email accounts. I may be getting ahead of myself though. First thing to do is to ensure you have an address book. Go to your Tools, then Email Accounts and click on the View or change… as seen in the image below
You will see something that looks like this. If you see your address book already listed (you should if you copied over an old .pst file since the address book or contacts are part of the file) If its not there, you need to add it. if it is there, then you just need to tell Outlook that it is the folder to use. If you have more than one listed, it probably means you have an new basically empty one associated with your email account as well as your old one you copied over. I’ve found it easiest to remove them both and then add back the one you know is correct, since most of the time the two will have the same names. You can also check and see which is the largest file size and remove the smaller one.
Once you’ve got that straightened out, you can go to your folder listing in Outlook and you should see your Contacts folder listed there. Its a simple case of selecting that folder, right clicking and going into the properties of it. On the tab named Outlook Address Book, click the button to “Show this folder as an e-mail address book” and click ok to get back out of it. You will probably need to close and restart Outlook and thats about it. You should now have all your contacts showing up when you start a new email.
Taming the MS Outlook .pst file beast can be tricky, but don’t let it get you down, most of the time all the info is there but the links are not set up inside Outlook to let you see it.