Clean Your Gmail Autocomplete List

Back in the old internet days, people rarely changed email addresses. Today is a different story with people changing jobs and having multiple email addresses. Sometimes email programs don’t want to let go of the old addresses and keep displaying them for us, which can present problems. This happened to a friend of mine who mistakenly sent an email to a colleague’s old work email address. I’ll skip the embarrassing parts and show you an easy way to remove these stale or unwanted addresses from the Google’s auto-complete list.

Understanding How Google Captures Email Addresses

Part of the problem arises because Google, like many email programs, notes who you’ve sent email to. If you type in an address in the To: box, Gmail stores that info in your Google Contacts. In the example below, Google will automatically add a record for Jane.Doe to my Contacts once I click the Send button.

gmail captures email address

If you were to click the Contacts link while in Gmail, you would see Jane’s new record that only has the email address.

gmail contact record created

A similar process happens if I hit Reply to an email and send it. Google assumes that I correspond with the email address and automatically adds to my Contacts.

Google Email Suggestions

To make it easier, Google also shows these email addresses and names when you start typing in the To: box of an email. They call this feature “auto-complete” and the matching emails and names are displayed by frequency of use. Using the test example above of Jane Doe, you can see Google has added her name to the suggestion list.

gmail autocomplete list

Editing Gmail Autocomplete Suggestion List

The key to removing or changing an email address is to edit the underlying contact record. You can:

  • Delete the contact record
  • Delete a contact’s email address
  • Change or add a contact’s email address

The steps are pretty much the same.

  1. Log into your Gmail account
  2. Click the down triangle next to Gmail
  3. google-contacts2

  4. Select Contacts from the drop down menu
  5. Enter in the contact’s name or email in the search bar and select their record.
  6. Click in the contact’s email address field. Once you click in the text box, a trash icon shows to the right. You can either edit the address and click Save Now on the top right or click the trash can icon to delete.
  7. google contact email textbox

  8. If you no longer want the contact record, you can click More and select Delete contact.
  9. delete Google contact record

  10. Sign out of Gmail and log back in.

Now, when you compose and email message and start typing in the To: field, your changes should be reflected.

While Google is smart in many ways, sometimes you need to offer a helping hand and edit your Google Contact records. Otherwise, you could find yourself sending correspondence to old email addresses that may no longer be attended.