Create and edit a distribution list

A distribution list is a collection of contacts (contact: Person, inside or outside of your organization, about whom you can save several types of information, such as street and e-mail addresses, telephone and fax numbers, and Web page URLs.). It provides an easy way to send e-mail messages to a group of people. For example, if you frequently send messages to the marketing team, you can create a distribution list — called "Marketing Team" — that contains the e-mail addresses of everyone on that team. A message sent to this distribution list goes to all recipients listed in the distribution list. You can include distribution lists in messages, task requests, meeting requests, and even in other distribution lists.

What do you want to do?


Create a distribution list

Distribution lists are stored by default in your Contacts folder. If you use a Microsoft Exchange account, your Global Address List (Global Address List: The address book that contains all user, group, and distribution list e-mail addresses in your organization. The administrator creates and maintains this address book. It may also contain public folder e-mail addresses.) can contain global distribution lists, which are available to everyone who uses that network. The personal distribution lists (personal distribution list: A collection of e-mail addresses that you create and add to your Outlook Address Book as one e-mail alias. When you send a message to a distribution list, it goes to each e-mail address in the list.) that you create in your Contacts folder are available only to you, but you can share them by sending them to others.

ShowHow many names can I include in a distribution list?

The maximum number of names that you can include in a distribution list depends on the size of the contact files (for each contact) themselves. There are no hard and fast rules but in general, a distribution list can contain between 50-70 names and e-mail addresses. A maximum number of e-mail addresses, with minimum contact file size, is approximately 125, and this can include other distribution lists.

For more information see the Knowledge Base article on the maximum size for distribution lists.

Do one of the following:

  • Create a distribution list by using names in the Address Book    
    1. On the File menu, point to New, and then click Distribution List.
    2. In the Name box, type the name of your distribution list. (For example, "Political Friends.")
    3. On the Distribution List tab, click Select Members.
    4. In the Address Book drop-down list, click the address book that contains the e-mail addresses you want to include in your distribution list.

Address Books list

  1. In the Search box, type a name that you want to include. When the name you're searching for appears in the list below, click it, and then click Members.
  2. Do this for each person whom you want to add to the distribution list, and then click OK.

If you want to add a longer description of the distribution list, on the Distribution List tab, click Notes, and then type the text.

The distribution list is saved in your Contacts folder under the name that you give it.

  • Create a distribution list by copying names from an e-mail message    
  1. In the message that you want to copy the names from, select the names in the To or Cc box (To, Cc, and Bcc boxes: A message is sent to the recipients in the To box. Recipients in the Cc (carbon copy) and Bcc (blind carbon copy) boxes also get the message; however, the names of the recipients in the Bcc box aren't visible to other recipients.).
  2. Right-click your selection, and then click Copy on the shortcut menu.
  3. Click the Microsoft Office ButtonButton image, and under Create New Outlook Item, click Distribution list.
  4. On the Distribution List tab, in the Members group, click Select Members.
  5. At the bottom of the Select Members dialog box, in the Members box, right-click and then click Paste on the shortcut menu.

 Note   A member does not need to be in your Address Book in order to be added to the distribution list. The member's name and e-mail address will be included when you copy and paste from the original e-mail message.

  1. Click OK.
  2. In the Name box, type a name for the distribution list.
  3. On the Distribution List tab, in the Actions group, click Save & Close.

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Add a distribution list received from someone else to your Contacts

Distribution lists are stored by default in your Contacts folder. When you receive a distribution list from someone else, you can save it to your Contacts.

  1. Open the message that contains the distribution list.
  2. In the header of the message, right-click the distribution list, and then click Add to Outlook Contacts on the shortcut menu.

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Add or delete a name in a distribution list

You edit a distribution list by adding or deleting names.

ShowShow me the names in a distribution list

Do one of the following:

  • View the names in the Address Book
    1. In a new message, click To.
    2. In the Address Book drop-down list, click the address book that contains the distribution list that you want information about.
    3. In the Search box, type the name of the distribution list.
    4. In the Name list, right-click the distribution list, and then click Properties on the shortcut menu.

ShowWhy don't I see the Name list in the Address Book?

You may have used the More columns search option the last time that you used the Address Book. To restore the name list view, click Name only next to Search.


  • View the names in the header of a message or meeting request
  • In the To box, click the plus sign (+) next to the name of the distribution list.

 Note    After the list is expanded, you cannot collapse the list again. Distribution lists in the E-mail field of a contact cannot be expanded.

Do one of the following:

  • View the names in the Address Book
  • In a new message, click To.
  • In the Address Book drop-down list, click the address book that contains the distribution list that you want information about.
  • In the Search box, type the name of the distribution list.
  • In the Name list, right-click the distribution list, and then click Properties on the shortcut menu.

ShowWhy don't I see the Name list in the Address Book?

You may have used the More columns search option the last time that you used the Address Book. To restore the name list view, click Name only next to Search.


  • View the names in the header of a message or meeting request
    • In the To box, click the plus sign (+) next to the name of the distribution list.

 Note    After the list is expanded, you cannot collapse the list again. Distribution lists in the E-mail field of a contact cannot be expanded

  1. In Contacts, open the distribution list.

 Note   In list views, distribution lists are marked with Button image.

  1. Do one or more of the following:
    • Add an address from an address book or a contacts folder    
      1. On the Distribution List tab, click Select Members.
      2. In the Address Book drop-down list, click the address book that contains the e-mail addresses you want in your distribution list.
      3. In the Search box, type a name you want to include.
      4. In the Name list, click the name, and then click Members. Do this for each person whom you want to add to the distribution list, and then click OK.

ShowWhy don't I see the Name list in the Address Book?

You may have used the More columns search option the last time that you used the Address Book. To restore the name list view, click Name only next to Search.


  • Add an address that is not in a contacts folder or an address book    
  1. On the Distribution List tab, click Add New.
  2. Type the information for the e-mail address, and then click OK.
  • Delete a name    
  • Click the name, and then click Remove.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2007