Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Creating address book entries using email

An email inbox isn’t the right place to keep track of your contact information. Don’t believe me? Try it sometime and see if you don’t lose people’s phone numbers and email addresses among the – what – hundreds? Thousands? of other emails sitting in there too. The consequence? Never having people’s current contact information at hand when you need it. (To regular readers of my blog – sorry for the redundancy in this intro from the last two weeks, but it sounds right for all three posts.)

Most computers offer at least one place to keep track of contact information, and you should use it. For the purposes of this post, I’ll talk about Outlook and Address Book on the Mac, but they’re far from the only games in town.

The beauty of these two tools, though, is that they let you quickly create an address book entry using the email that contains the contact information (often found in email signatures). And when you no longer need the email? You can get rid of it – file it or delete it – so one less message clutters your inbox.

from Microsoft Outlook 2010 (Windows)

From the email, right-click the sender’s name (or email address) and choose Add to Contacts. You can also drag the email to the Contact button in the navigation pane to the left. A Contact window appears with the person’s name and email address filled in.

from Microsoft Outlook 2011 (Mac)

  • With the email selected, open the Message menu and choose Sender, Add to Contacts.


  • Hold your mouse pointer over the sender’s name (or email address) at the top of the message. From the selection of icons that appears, choose Open Outlook contact.

from Mac Mail

In the email itself, move the mouse pointer over the email signature (if there is one). A menu (a data detector) should appear over things like addresses and phone numbers. Click the menu and choose Create New Contact.

Check out the beginning of this video to see what data detectors look like.

Extra Mac tips

  • Select all the text in the email before creating the contact and Mail will put the entire text in the note for the Address Book entry. This tactic makes contacts easier to find when you look for information using Spotlight.
  • If the person has new contact information, like a new mobile phone number, you can click Add To Existing Contact instead.