How to stop old email addresses appearing automatically in the ‘To’ field in mail app


Have you ever gone to send an email in OS X, and when you start to type the person’s name all their past 5 email addresses come up, even though you have deleted them from Address Book (Contacts App)? Where are the addresses coming from and how do you get rid of them?

Apple mail on the mac keeps track of every person you have received an email from. This makes it easy to send them an email even if they are not in your address book. But this feature becomes a pain when people change their email address and Apple mail remembers the old one. It’s simple to fix though.

To delete a person’s old email address, in Mail  go to ‘Window’ menu and ‘Previous Recipients’.

Then click on the old email address and press the ‘Remove from List’ button.

You should do this anytime someone sends you a ‘my email address has changed’ email.

If this doesn’t work,  there are some good tips in the comments below!


97 responses to “How to stop old email addresses appearing automatically in the ‘To’ field in mail app”

  1. Sheila Johnson

    I have done just what it says and they are deleted in that bit, but the old addresses are still appearing when I click on name to send an e-mail

    1. harry

      I have the same problem, the name has been removed in the previous recipients list, but still appears as a selectable name in all new emails.

  2. dottie

    ‘previous recipient’ does not show as an option under ‘window’

    1. Gene

      I have the same situation……

    2. Marianne L

      I had the same problem. I went to the “Help” menu and searched “Previous Recipients” The term came up and I clicked it. After doing that I was able to search for the bad address and remove it.

  3. Kevin Kurumada

    I keep getting emails from 2015 over and over even after trashing them
    How do I stop them from coming back?

  4. Keith Dickson

    My old a/c. no.keeps stopping me from sharing photos etc and I want my new a/ c no. To be used

  5. tom missildine

    I have used the “Window” method to get an old address out of my computer. Ten times, no help

  6. Kevin

    I also have followed the steps suggested in the main directions above. I opened the “Previous Recipients” list from the Window menu in Apple Mail. I see the old email addresses that I want to delete. I can delete them. They go away. If I close that list and reopen it, they remain gone. So far, so good. BUT, when composing a new email, the old addresses (which I just deleted) still appear as options. The same is true if I close the mail app and reopen it. I doubt rebooting the machine will help but I’ll try it.

    I’m on a Mac Book Pro running Mojave OS 10.14.6 Mail Version 12.4 (3445.104.11)

    1. miste

      same here. name pops up in “autofill” but not located in contacts list…..

  7. JUNE

    can I delete an old email address and COMPLETDLY REMOVE ICLOUDI hate it,it screws up everthing. I need to trash it

    1. Irwin Judson

      Hi June,
      I agree, absolutely. It does screw everything up. The frustrations were furious, especially in .pages until I discovered / figured out that iCloud was the problem, not me!

  8. Lucy

    This really works…

    (I use MacBook Air laptop. OX High Sierra 10.13)

    Click on the CONTACTS icon (yellow book) on the Dock (opens up a window)

    Then click on CONTACTS in the menu bar (above) Yes, above.

    In the sub-menu, select PREFERENCES (opens a window automatically in the General section)

    Deselect “Show contacts Siri found in apps”

    This will remove old email contacts when writing an email draft.

    1. Thank you so much, only deselecting Siri removed the unwanted address permanently.

    2. Marcella Q

      Thank you!

      1. Gene

        doesn’t work for me…..

        this is so confusing not to permanently delete old e-mails

    3. Lin

      Well it sure doesn’t work for me. Nothing does. Worked HOURS on the internet at various times. Delete ’em. They come back. Why I can’t delete the mailbox is beyond me!! Very frustrating. I have them in two places in Mac Mail – Contacts and Emailed Contacts. There is no ‘Show contacts Siri found i apps on my updated version of iMac.

    4. C S Cornish

      MY HERO. Thank you a million. I was so sick of Siri finding old addresses and sticking them in my emails.

  9. William

    I have deleted an email address but the email address comes to the screen and I cannot get rid of it…goes away when email closes or when trying to delete from screen. No malware or virus found…what gives?

  10. I went to Systems Preferences, clicked on Siri selected Preferences and unchecked every program listed. I don’t use /siri, It is a nuisance.

  11. AR

    After removing the emails, QUIT mail and then reopen it. They will be gone.

    1. Herb

      Nope, didn’t work

  12. Dean

    Here’s the quick and simple fix:

    1. Make sure the unwanted email address isn’t in an email address.
    2. In the Mail app on your Mac, choose Window > Previous Recipients.
    3. Find the address you want to delete. You can search for it or sort the list by clicking a column header.
    If you want to check the address in the Contacts app, double-click the card icon in front of the address. If you don’t see a card and want to keep the address in Contacts, just select the address, then click Add to Contacts.
    4. Click Remove From List.

    It’s gone.

    1. Thelma

      This worked well for me. Thanks!!!!

  13. Jim Dove

    I had this problem and finally found an unsuspected culprit. I removed the email address from my previous recipients and contact list but also had it entered as a relative too.

    Once I removed both listings from my contacts the old email was discarded permanently and no longer pops up when I type the first letters of the name in the email header. Halleluja!

  14. Used2Could

    Just change your email address. Problem solved.

  15. Macbook Pro:
    Go to Google Contacts
    Scroll to Other Contacts on left
    Delete all that you will

  16. esamax

    There is another problem I found for those who cannot get rid of an old email – Siri remembers email addresses so I believe you must delete any old email that is still on your computer with the old address

  17. Bas Meijer

    The thing is, there are redundant email addresses that are stored locally on your Mac and on iCloud. To get rid of the Mac ones as explained before: In Mail in the menu bar got to Window > Previous Recipients and get rid of the addresses you like. I got rid of everything here, nice and clean restart.
    Now, there might ALSO be some redundant email addresses stores in iCloud, to get rid of those you have to edit every contact one by one and check what needs to be deleted. This can be done on any device that logs in to your iCloud accoun, so this can be your Contacts application on you Mac, you iOS or iPadOS device, or alternatively you can even log into on any browser and go to Contacts and to it from there. The advantage is that once you have done that, all your Apple devices that sync to iCloud are up to date.
    That is providing iCloud is your one and ONLY source of your Contacts (check the Internet Account settings in the System Preferences), otherwise you have to check e.g. your Google account too. In my case I also had to get rid of some files in the user library.
    Delete the files in /Users/YOUR_USERNAME/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/ that start with MailRecents* and restart Mail.

  18. candy

    after deleting contact on mac (mail>window>previous recipients>delete), DELETE FROM PHONE CONTACTS!

  19. Charlie Hartman

    Okay, I have tried everything on this list, and nothing works. Not only does Mac Mail continue to show the old email as a suggestion — I could live with that — but it seems randomly to select the old email even though the new email is at the top and highlighted. As someone else said on this list, Apple says that as long as you have ANY EMAILS on your computer that came from or were sent to the old address, you cannot depend on the new email to be the one that the mail uses.

    I write to John Smith several times a day. Most of the time (about 75%) if I start typing in johnsmith, the mail will automatically fill in But sometimes it randomly fills in! I am not a touch typist, so I look at the keyboard when I am typing in the address johnsmith, and then I hit Enter. When I look up at the screen to see what the Mac decided to put in, it shows only John Smith. Of course, there is a tiny dropdown arrow I can click on to see whether it’s the old or new address, but I am usually concentrating on typing what I want to say to John, and I am not likely to stop what I’m doing so I can check to see what email address the computer decided to use this time.

    For me, the aggravating issue is the random selection of addresses. This is a computer, after all, and when I type in johnsmith, the computer should respond the same way every time. Computers do not have a wacky sense of humor that makes them randomly do different things. The computer response should be predictable, but it is not, and after talking with three different senior advisors at Apple and being told I had to live with it, I figured I needed to solve this problem some other way.

    This is what I did that works. In the Contacts app, I clicked the plus sign (+) and chose New Contact. I then typed in a first name of random letters (I used “qwer”.) Anything will do as long as it’s not something you will ever really use. I skipped the last name, and for the home Email, I entered Now when I start a new email, I type qwer, and the Mac always autofills the correct address for John Smith!

    It’s a stupid workaround, but until Apple gets its act together, at least I have a way to know my emails will never go to the old address! (When the old address is the old company, I really do not want my email to go there.) If anybody knows of a better way to get the right address every time, please Comment! Thanks.

    1. I can’t help sorry, I’ve just changed from Apple Mail to Spark. It seems to not be plagued with these issues!

    2. An interesting workaround Charlie!

  20. Gina Harrop

    How do I stop the name of a deceased person from coming up when sending emails .I have deleted the name from my contacts but it’s still appearing .
    Very upsetting & frustrating.

  21. Jeff Cuzzi

    It seems Apple is simply ignoring its users, and doing nothing to fix this problem. Not even a “sorry, yep, it is broken” in this thread, which has been running for two years. I am still having the problem after deleting every email in every mailbox mentioning the suspect address, and it was already deleted in my contacts. But Apple mail keeps throwing it up to me. Macs used to be pretty flawless but maybe all Apple cares about is phones.

  22. Darren

    Hi, I kept seeing one of my own email addresses that I typed wrong that was not saved in my contacts. I added this invalid email address to my google contacts then deleted it. Make sure to close and or refresh the page afterwards it should not show up anymore.

  23. Trying to get rid of this one and it doesn’t seem to disappear know one in roads martine know how either and I can’t go to work until it’s gone and my new email is. In its place and it’s very destressing

  24. Robin Stefan

    Thank you for this wonderful solution!!!!

  25. Katy D

    Hi all,
    I had a problem with undeliverable replies (apparently assumed to be associated with SPAM) which I finally narrowed down to an old address which this person had used 2 years ago. It didn’t appear in my contacts but it came from old mail in apps. I tried all of the above but the solution that finally worked was to delete this person totally from my contacts and then re-added only the current address. So far, so good – the ‘bad’ address has not re-appeared.

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