Using and Managing the Outlook Express Address Book

The Outlook Express Address Book stores contact information for easy access when sending email. Although it appears that Outlook express has its own address book it actually uses the windows address book(WAB).

The windows address book

The windows address book is a stand alone application which you can access without opening outlook express. To open the address book go to programs>accessories>address book.

Here we will look at how to use, manage and maintain the
windows/outlook express address book.

Adding Contacts to The Outlook Address Book

There are many different ways of adding contact information to the Outlook Address Book. Here we will look at the different ways that it can be achieved.

Add Contacts Automatically

You can set up Outlook Express automatically add people you reply
to, to your Address Book:

  1. In Outlook Express, on the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. On the Send tab, click Automatically put people I
    reply to in my Address Book

To add an individual contacts from email

  1. In a message you are viewing or replying to, right-click the
    name, and then click Add to Address Book.
  2. In the message list of any mail folder, right-click a message,
    and then click Add Sender to Address Book.


Import Names From Other Address Books

You can import email addresses and contact information from any program that exports comma-separated values (CSV) text files, and also from other popular clients such as Microsoft Outlook, and services like Yahoo mail,Gmail etc

Importing an Address Book.

If the Import file is in WAB format then:

  1. Open Outlook Express.
  2. Click the addresses icon ( not file>import). The address book opens.
  3. Select File>Import Address book (WAB).
  4. Select the .Wab file to import and click ok and the address book will be imported.

If the Import file is in .csv format then:

  1. Open Outlook Express.
  2. Click the addresses icon ( not file>import). The address book opens.
  3. Select File>Import other Address book
  4. Select Text file (comma separated values).
  5. Click Import.
  6. Select the .csv file to import and click open.
  7. Click Next.
  8. You can now change the address book to name mapping (not normally done).
  9. Click Finish to complete the import.
  10. Click Ok when import complete and and close the import window.

 Manually Add a Contact to The Address Book

  1. Open the address book.- click Tools> Address Book.
  2. In the Address Book, select the folder to which you want to add
    a contact. (see address book folders).
  3. On the Address Book toolbar, click New, and then click
    New Contact
  4. On the Name tab, type at least the first and last name of
    the contact-display name.
  5. Add any information you would like to include in the other tabs.

To add a contact to your Address Book from a business card

Business card located on your computer:

  1. In the Address Book, on the File menu, point to Import,
    and then click Business Card (vCard).
  2. Locate the business card file on your computer or a network
    drive, select it, and then click Open.

Business card included as an attachment:

  1. Double Click the business card icon.outlook-address-book-vcard-1
  2. If you receive an open attachment warning tick the open it
    button and then ok.
  3. Click add to address Book.outlook-address-book-vcard-2

To find people and businesses on the Internet

oe-find-peopleThis feature doesn’t work particularly well as most of the directories aren’t locatable . If you want more information on this feature consult the address book help files.

Using Outlook Express Address Book Folders

Its possible to create folders in order to organise your in outlook Express addresses/contacts.

The default address book has a single folder called main identity as shown below:



To create additional folders simply right click the main identity folder and select new> new folder and give the folder a name.

To move contacts between folders just drag and drop them. You can
also copy them by right clicking the contact and selecting copy.

Copying contacts is not advised as the two contacts are not synchronized , meaning that if you change the details of one they are not changed in the other.

Shared Contacts Folder

This folder is used for sharing contact/addresses with other Outlook express users.

Families typically share a computer and separate their email using outlook Express Identities. The shared contacts folder is ideal for storing contacts that the whole family use.

To move a contact into the shared contact folder just drag it their and the contact details will be visible to anyone logging on using any other identity.


Folders and Mail Groups

Although folders can be used to group email contacts together they are very different from mail groups.

Contacts can belong to multiple groups but only one folder unless of course you create a copy (see above).

 Folder Problems

You cannot export the folders you create as a .csv file. It is only possible to export the main identity folder as a .csv file (format used to transfer the address book between clients/systems).

Also if you export the address book in WAB (Windows address book) format then then contents of the folders are exported, but the folders themselves aren’t.

Organise Names in The Address Book

If you have a large Address Book then you may want to organise it to suit your preferences.

To sort contacts by name, e-mail address, or phone number, click the appropriate column heading above the name list or select it from the view>sort by menu option.


To switch columns between ascending and descending sort order, click the column heading or select it from the view>sort by menu option.


To change the order of the columns, point to a column heading (Name, E-mail Address, Home Phone, and so on), and then drag the column to the left or right until it’s located where you want it.

Exporting The Address Book

To transfer your outlook express/windows address book either between email clients like Outlook, Windows Live Mail etc or email services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail you need to export your address book in a format that is readable by the other client/service .

To create a copy of your contacts/addresses so that you can transfer it either to another program or system.

  1. Open Outlook Express.
  2. Click the addresses icon ( not file>export). The address book opens.
  3. Select File>Export>Address book.
  4. Select Other Address book  and then Text file (common separated values).
  5. Click Export.
  6. Give the file name (contacts) and using browse store in the desired location.
  7. Select the fields your require to export and click finish.
  8. After the confirmation message click close.

If you are creating a copy of the address book so as you can move it to outlook express on another computer or as a backup then the procedure is:

  1. Open Outlook Express.
  2. Click the addresses icon ( not file>export). The address book opens.
  3. Select File>Export>Address book.
  4. Select Address book (WAB).
  5. Click Export.
  6. Give the file name (contacts), and using browse store in the backup directory you created for the email messages.
  7. After the confirmation message click close.

Address Book Location

To change the address book location you need to edit the registry and I would advise against this unless you really need to.

If you still want to then please ensure that you are comfortable using the registry editor and consult the Microsoft knowledge base article: How to Change the Location of the Windows Address Book: Q156828

Editing the registry !

Many TechNet (Microsoft knowledge base)  articles refer to editing the
registry and always come with a warning that you could seriously damage your computer if you do it wrong.

Therefore always ensure that you have a backup of the registry before you make registry changes and if you don’t feel comfortable
with it don’t do it.

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