The Quick and Easy Way To Manage Email Distribution Lists On The Mac

Most people have a few lists of people they email on a regular basis. It might be a team of coworkers, a group of friends you vacation with, or even your close family. When you email these groups, you probably enter each email one at a time into the “TO:” field, which is not only annoying to do over and over again, but is prone to mistakes, like forgetting to add someone or worse yet, adding someone you didn’t mean to by mistake!

The solution for this is to use Email Distribution Lists. You can create lists so you only need to type the list name, and email clients like Outlook and Mail.app will automatically enter the individual email addresses. In this post, you’ll learn how to do this for both Outlook 2011 and Mail.app; the two most popular email clients for the Mac.

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Outlook 2011 Distribution Lists

The first step is to open up Outlook 2011 and head over to the Contacts section by clicking in the Navigation pane in the bottom left corner.

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Next, in the Home tab on the Outlook 2011 Ribbon, click Contact Group. (Note: for some exchange accounts this is disabled).

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Next, fill out the information in the window that appears. Give the group a useful name that is descriptive of the members and/or the use of the group, and enter the email addresses of the people you wish to be in the list.

(Note: Don’t click the “Use Bcc to hide member information” check box. If you wish to hide people from the list just enter the list onto the Bcc line of the message.)

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Once all the information is entered, click the Save Close button. This will return you to the Outlook 2011 window.

To test out your new group, click on the Mail button in the bottom-left navigation pane and start a new email message. Start typing the name of the contact group, and it will appear.

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That’s all there is to it for Outlook 2011. Now let’s have a look at how to do this same task in Apple’s Mail.app client.

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Apple Mail.app Distribution Lists

Out of the box there is no way to easily make contact groups inside of Mail.app mainly because of the integration Apple has between Mail and Contacts. Since Mail.app gets its contact information from the Contacts app, this is where you need to go for contact groups.

First, open up the Contacts app (in previous versions of OSX this is called “Address Book.”), and click the File menu, then New Group.

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Enter a descriptive name for the group so you remember it later.

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Now that the group is added, you can drag and drop contacts into the group. Just go through your contacts and drop them into this new group.

Once you have added the members to the list, you should see them when you click on it:

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With this complete, you can close Contacts and head over to Mail.app. To test this out, start a new message and type the beginning of your contact group’s name. It should appear as below:

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Please note that if you added contacts to this group that do not have an email address listed, they will automatically be removed from the email. If no members have an email listed, the list will not allow itself to be added to the new message.

Wrap-Up

Distribution lists can be a very useful tool and really save you time by helping to avoid mistakes. People tend to think of these as solely for use in business, but with the number of personal emails sent today, the distribution list can be a real help in not only protecting privacy but making your emails easier to send.

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