Back in the old days, people rarely changed email addresses. Today people change jobs and have multiple email addresses. Some email programs don’t want to let go of the old addresses. This can cause problems with auto-complete. This happened to a friend with Gmail. She 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.
Understanding How Google Captures Email Addresses
Part of the problem arises because Google, like many email programs, notes who you’ve sent email. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to my Contacts once I click the Send button.
If you were to open Google Contacts, you would see Jane’s new record that has the email address and my test email.
A similar process happens if I hit Reply to an email and send it. Google assumes that I correspond with the sender 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 the frequency of use.
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.
Editing 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Sometimes you need to delete an email address simply because it’s outdated.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 type. Either way, you want to delete these addresses so they don’t show in your auto-complete list.
- Log into your Google account.
- Go to https://contacts.google.com.
- Start typing either your contact’s name or email address in the search bar at the top.
- Click the contact record.
- Click the 3 vertical dots on the right side.
- From the drop-down menu, select Delete.
- Click Delete.
- Log out of Gmail.
You can use any Google service.
You should see an alphabetical list by First name.
A filtered drop-down list will appear.
The contact record will appear as a pop up.
This will show you the More actions list.
This option is just above the labels.
A confirmation pop-up appears.
This step is needed for many people to clear the deleted entries.
Now, when you compose an email message and start typing in the To: field, your changes should be reflected. 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.
- Open Gmail.
- Click the Gear icon in the top right. This will open your Settings page.
- Scroll down to Create contacts from auto-complete
- Tick the radio button I’ll add contacts myself
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.