How to Delete an Email Address from Gmail Autofill

Have you ever noticed that Gmail can keep email addresses forever? This is because they get added to your Gmail’s autocomplete list or autofill. Over time, these addresses can get outdated or entered incorrectly. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to delete an email address from your autofill email address list in Gmail for good.

Note: This tutorial is not about deleting your Google account.

How Google Saves Email Addresses

Part of the problem occurs because Google remembers to whom you’ve sent an email. So, for example, when you type an address in the To: box, it becomes an auto-saved email address in Google Contacts.

Think of Google Contacts as your primary contact list. However, Google has two contact repositories. One is the primary Contacts, and the second is in an area called Other Contacts

Other Contacts folder within Google Contacts.
Scroll down for Other Contacts

In the example below, Google automatically adds a contact record for jane.doe@example.com to my Contacts once I click the Send button.

New email to jane.doe@example.com.
New email address

If you were to open Google Contacts, you would see Jane’s new record with the email address and a link to the test email. However, your contacts list will only show her email. This is because Google does not know the entity behind the email address unless that person uses their Google account.

Jane Doe record in Google Contacts.
Minimal information is carried over from Gmail.

A similar process happens if I hit Reply or use the Gmail shortcut key to contact someone I’ve not communicated with. A typical example is when you fill out a web support form. If you reply to the company’s email, it will go to Other contacts.

Another way Google gets emails is when you import contacts into Google Contacts or an email list. Generally, this is OK unless you have similar entries that aren’t an exact match. Duplicate records can compound problems.

Gmail Autofill Suggestions

To make it easier, Google also shows emails and names when you start typing in the To: box of an email. This feature is called auto-complete or autofill. Google also prioritizes the address list by frequency. 

Using the test example above for Jane Doe, you can see Google has added her information to the suggestion list. Unfortunately, this is also where people can run into problems. They may have entered the wrong email, misspelled it, or selected the wrong suggestion.

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

Edit Gmail Autocomplete Suggestion List

The key to removing or changing an email address is to edit the underlying contact record. You can’t do it by deleting all the emails from that sender. Instead, you can:

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

If you delete the only email address from a contact record, they will no longer show in the autofill list when you compose the email. This is because Gmail requires an email recipient to have an address.

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Method 1: Delete Google Contact Record

Sometimes you want to remove an entire contact record. Perhaps, it’s a vendor or person you won’t correspond with. A good starting point is your Other Contacts folder. 

By deleting the record, these entries won’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 your contact’s name or email address in the search bar at the top.

In the example below, I entered the word “help.” Google then displays any contact record with that word in the entity name or one of the associated email addresses. 

If there isn’t an entity name such as “Jane Doe” or “help,” Google will use the email address.

Using Search to find email addresses matching "help".
Email addresses referencing “help.”
  1. Click the desired contact record.
  2. Click the three-dot icon on the right side.
  3. From the More Options drop-down menu, select Delete.
Delete the Contact record using More Options menu.
Deleting a contact record
  1. Click Delete.
  2. Log out of Gmail and sign back in.

When you compose an email message and start typing in the To: field, your changes should appear. However, you will not see any entry for your deleted contact record in the auto-complete suggestion list.

Deleting the Google contact will not remove any email.

Method 2: Delete or Edit a Contact Email Address

Another typical example is when people change their email addresses or company. In this scenario, you want to keep the contact record. So instead, we’ll remove an alternate email address.

  1. Log into your Google account.
  2. Go to https://contacts.google.com.
  3. Start typing your contact’s name or email address in the search bar at the top.
  4. Click your desired contact record.
  5. Click the blue Edit button on the right side.
  6. Scroll down to the Email section.
  7. Move your mouse to the right of the email address you’d like to remove.
  8. An X should appear with the word Remove.
Remove option showing when hovering over Other label.
Hover to show Remove control
  1. Click the X.
  2. Click the Save button.
  3.  Log out of Gmail and sign back in.

How to Turn Off Auto-Complete Contacts

Some people prefer not to have email addresses added automatically. Instead, they prefer to add contacts or limit the primary email address.

  1. Open Gmail.
  2. Click the Gear icon in the top right. This will open your Settings page.
  3. Click See all settings. You should be on the General tab.
  4. Scroll down to Create contacts from auto-complete.
  5. Tick the radio button I’ll add contacts myself.
Gmail setting to change auto-complete options.
  1. Scroll down and click the Save Changes button.

Why am I still Seeing Emails on Autofill?

Sometimes people still see records for deleted items. This can happen for several reasons.

  1. You didn’t log out of Gmail and log back in.
  2. You need to clear your browser cache.
  3. You have another instance of the email address. Double-check your list of contacts.

While Google is smart in many ways, you need to offer a helping hand to refine the autocomplete list. Otherwise, you could find yourself sending correspondence to irrelevant or outdated email addresses.