How to use the Apple Mail Previous Recipients tool

Learn how the Previous Recipients tool locates overlooked contacts in your Apple Mail address book.

How to use the Apple Mail Previous Recipients Tool

I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to compose an email in Apple Mail only to find the recipient in question isn't in my address book. I know, without a doubt, I've received missives from that person but must have failed to save their address. To remedy this I search for their name in my inbox and hope that I've saved the email. If not, it's time to either guess or Google. Or, better yet, it's time to use of a very handy (although somewhat obscure) tool in Apple Mail. That tool is called Previous Recipients.

This tool maintains a local database of email addresses associated with email, which has arrived in your inbox. It doesn't matter if you saved the contact to your address book or not, the Previous Recipients tool keeps track of those email addresses regardless.

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Using the tool

How do you use this tool? Simple. Let me show you. Open Apple Mail and click Window | Previous Recipients. In the resulting window, search for the contact you wish to use. If the contact has a card icon to the left of their name, that means that they are already in your address book. No card icon? No entry.

To add the contact to your address book, select it, and then click Add to Contacts. The email address is now a part of your address book and ready to use. Go back to Apple Mail and send your missive to the newly added contact.

This tool makes it incredibly easy to find contacts you may have either overlooked or forgotten to add to your address book. Now, those important contact addresses will never slip through your fingers again.

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Image: Apple