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March 24, 2006

Two Contact Folders in MS Outlook 2003

I hate the address book/name-lookup/contact folder/.pst file organization piece of MS Outlook. Now, Outlook is nice in theory, but, in practice, it's abysmal. Right now, I'm struggling because, for some unknown reason, I have two Contact folders in MS Outlook. I see them if I go to Tools - Address Book - "Show Names from the:" and click on the drop down list. On the drop down list, it says "Outlook Address Book", "Contacts", and "Contacts". If I select "Outlook Address Book", it says "No entries in this Address Book". Which, sounds like a problem, but, according to this post, that's how it's supposed to function.

The Outlook Address Book is just an empty shell containing any
Contact Folders that you have enabled as email address books. It will always
appear empty if you select it. No need ever to select it from that dropdown.

Nice, Microsoft. Brilliant. Let's move past that. I have 2 contact folders. And neither one of them is corrupt. They both have similar data in them. So, this is mind-numbingly confusing.

(Continued in extended entry...)

In Outlook, the Folder List on the left only shows one "Contacts" folder under my .pst named "Current". My newly created archival .pst for my old emails does not list a "Contacts" folder.

So, just to try to sort things out, I went into the properties of the "Contacts" folder and renamed it to "Contacts2":
From the Folder List, select the Contacts folder, right click and select Properties and click on the "Outlook Address Book" tab. Check "Show this folder as an e-mail Address Book". Then, I put "Name of the Address Book" as "Contacts2".

So, now, from Tools - Address Book - I do see that one of the two folders has been renamed to "Contacts2". But where is the "Contacts" folder coming from? I selected File - Properties and it says "Information: Personal Folders", "Contact folder: Contacts". For the other contacts folder, it says "Information: Current", "Contact folder: Contacts2". So, apparently they're listing the descriptive name of the .pst file (each .pst file has a name and a file name) after the uqiquitous "Information:". Thanks Microsoft. Thanks for that. Real clear.

So, apparently, this other Contacts folder is coming from a .pst file with a name of "Personal Folders", whatever that is.

I noticed that if I clicked on File - Open - Outlook Data File, I have the following 4 entries:

So, I opened archive.pst and outlook.pst. Finally, I could see that when I opened the "outlook.pst" file, it my "Personal Folders" appeared on the left side in the Folder view. So, now we're getting somewhere. At least I can see the two stupid things now. Now, I'll export them, compare them, and try to merge the two.

File - Import and Export - Export to a file - Comma separated values(DOS) - Select folder to export from = Contacts - Save exported file as contacts.txt. Repeated this for the Contacts2 folder and compared the results. There were only a couple of instances where I had updated the old Contacts folder, so I exported those contacts as VCARD files and then imported them into the newer Contacts folder. Of course, this being Microsoft, it doesn't ask you which contact folder to put it in (go figure), and it doesn't update the existing contact, it just adds them again so they're in there twice. Nice Microsoft. Very nice.

So, I got the new Contacts folder all synced up, albeit somewhat manually. Then I resolved to delete the old .pst files, so they wouldn't cause me any future angst. However, this is not as easy as one might think.

First, I went into File - Data File Management, selected the outlook.pst and the archive.pst Outlook Data Files and clicked Remove. Simple enough, right? Not so fast. All this does is remove them from the Folder List view. So, they're not really gone, and I still see that other contacts folder.

I went into the old Contacts folder under Tools - Address Book and selected the old Contacts folder. Then, I selected all of the contacts and deleted them. This actually finally made the other Contact folder disappear.

Just to be belt and suspenders safe, though, I went to File - Open - Outlook Data File, right clicked on the archive.pst and selected Delete. Repeated for outlook.pst. This made those two old .pst files go away for good.

Finally, I'm down to 1 contacts folder, and only the 2 .pst files that I wanted. Repeat after me...Microsoft sucks!

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Posted by Peenie Wallie on March 24, 2006 at 03:25 PM


From the menu in Outlook:

Tools > Address Book (the AB opens) then Tools > Options > select the second "Contacts" in both of the drop lists and delete the first in the pick list below the drop lists. Click OK.

Posted by: 1 on June 18, 2007 at 07:34 PM

Yup, Microsoft sucks. Thank you for the instructions - it worked perfectly and I never would have figured it out myself.

Posted by: MCH on October 14, 2007 at 08:28 AM

From MS help online. If the first Contacts list drop down is the one you don't want then delete the first one listed here.
I removed a Contacts folder so that it won't be displayed in the Address Book. However, it is still displayed in the Address Book, and I get an error message.

To delete the Contacts folder from the Address Book, do the following:

On the Tools menu, click E-mail Accounts.
Click View or change existing directories or address books, and then click Next.
Select Outlook Address Book, and then click Change.
Select the Contacts folder that you want to remove, and then click Remove Address Book.
Exit and restart Outlook.

Posted by: ebs on November 09, 2007 at 01:43 PM

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