Tip 1122: Sort order in Outlook's People Hub

Bob asked this question:

When I select PEOPLE, I see a list of the contacts I imported. Most display as First Name then Last name, but some display Last Name and then First Name. I have edited each of them and the data is entered properly for each. First names in first name field and last name in last name field. Why are some displaying one way and others displaying another way?

This is one of the reasons why I think the new People Hub is confusing. Instead of displaying the contacts using the File As format, the People Hub uses the Full Name field, exactly as it displays on the contact. But Outlook sorts by the File As field. In many cases, both fields will be identical, but when they aren't, the sort order makes no sense.

People Hub SortingYou can have contacts displayed Last, First and sorted by the first name or displayed in First Last format and sorted by the last name. Add the company field and sorting can appear out of whack. Very confusing!

As you can see in the screenshot on the right, it appears that there is no logical sort order.

The screenshot includes 3 entries for Fred Smith, none of which are sorted together. While each uses First Last format in the full name field, the File As field controls the sort order and each contact uses a different File as format.

The first Fred Smith is filed as Acme, Inc (Smith, Fred).
Fred Smith #2 has Fred Smith in the File as field.
The last Fred Smith has Smith, Fred in the File as field.

Fixing the sort order

It would be better if the People Hub was sorted by the same field used for the display. Fortunately, there are two ways to fix this.

You can customize the View to use a different sort order. Switch to the View tab and click the View Settings button then select a different sort order. I like to use the Full Name field.

Or you can change the File As field to match the Full Name field. If you want to sort by last names, you need to use Last, First format in the File As field.

The file as field and full name fields control the display and sort orders

If you need to update a large number of contacts, you can use a macro, and yes, I have macros available you can use to change the File as field and the Full name display.

The macro at Bulk Change File As Format for Contacts will change the File As field to Full name. (You don't need to change anything to use the Full name field.)

If you need to change full name field to first last format, replace the With... End With block of code in the Bulk change macro with the following.

            With objContact
               .FullName = .FirstName & " " .LastName
               .Save
            End With

If the first and last name fields are swapped, use the macro at Macro to Swap First and Last Names to swap them.

Using the People Hub

So what is the point of the People Hub? It's not a useless as it first seems to many new Outlook 2013 users.

If you need a contact's information, it's displayed in the reading pane. You can select and copy the addresses, click on the email address to send a message, create a meeting with the contact. If your computer voice capabilities (which are supported by Outlook), the Phone icon will be enabled and you place the call from this screen.

If you have multiple contacts for a person, you can link them together and merge the contact information together on one screen. If you are signed in to Facebook or LinkedIn, information from Facebook or LinkedIn is included in the merge. When multiple contact sources are used, links to each source are listed under View Source. Click the link to open the full contact, or to view the person's Facebook or LinkedIn page.

People Hub Contacts

Published December 24, 2013. Last reviewed on April 8, 2014.