How to Fix Gmail Autofill Addresses

Years ago, people rarely changed email addresses. Today people change jobs and have many email addresses. However, some email programs don’t want to let go of the old addresses. This can cause problems with auto-complete or autofill. This happened to a friend who mistakenly sent an email to a colleague’s old work email address. I’ll skip the embarrassing parts and show you how to delete an email address from Gmail.

How Google Captures Email Addresses

Part of the problem arises because Google, like many email programs, notes whom you’ve sent an email to. Suppose 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.does@example.com to my Contacts once I click the Send button.

typing email to jane.doe
New email address used.

If you were to open Google Contacts, you would see Jane’s new record with the email address and my test email.

Jane Doe contact record
Minimal information carried over from Gmail.

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

Google Email Autofill Suggestions

To make it easier, Google also shows these email addresses and names when you start typing in the To: box of an email. Sometimes this feature is called auto-complete or autofill. The frequency of use of that email address plays a part.

Using the test example above of Jane Doe, you can see Google has added her name to the suggestion list. This is also where people can run into problems because they may have selected the wrong email or misspelled it.

gmail suggesting emails for jane
Gmail starts to filter for “Jane.”

Edit Gmail Auto Complete 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

How to Delete an Email Address from Gmail

Sometimes you need to delete an email address simply because it’s outdated. Other times, you might have made a typo. Either way, you want to delete these addresses so they don’t show in your auto-complete or autofill list.

  1. Log into your Google account.
  2. Go to https://contacts.google.com.
  3. Start typing either your contact’s name or email address in the search bar at the top.
Search bar for Google contacts.
  1. Click the contact record.
  2. Click the 3 vertical dots on the right side.
  3. From the drop-down menu, select Delete.
Delete the Contact record.
  1. Click Delete.
  2. Log out of Gmail.

When you compose an email message and start typing in the To: field, your changes should show. You will not see any entry for Jane Doe in auto-complete.

Deleting the Google contact will not remove any correspondence. You should still have your emails.

How to Turn Off Auto-Complete Contacts

Some people may prefer not to have this Gmail feature. Instead, they prefer to add contacts.

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click the Gear icon in the top right. This will open your Settings page.
  3. Scroll down to Create contacts from auto-complete.
  4. Tick the radio button I’ll add contacts myself.
change auto-complete options

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