Tip 864: Send email to a Contact category

When you assign categories to Contacts you can send an email message to everyone in the category.

To do this in Microsoft Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013, begin by grouping by category then select the category and click the Email button on the Home ribbon's Communicate section. This will open a new email message addressed to the members of the category.

While in the Contacts folder:

  1. Switch to a list view and group by categories.
  2. Select the desired category header.
  3. Click the Email button (Outlook 2010/2013) or Actions, New message to command in older versions. (Actions, Create, New message in Outlook 2007)
  4. new message to contacts

A new message opens addressed to the selected contacts.

In Microsoft Outlook 2007, apply the category view using the View, Arrange by, Categories menu, select the desired category then look for the New message to contact command on the Actions, Create menu.

The steps are similar in older versions: apply a group by category view, select the category group then use the Actions, New message to contact command to open a new message addressed to the category members.

Published May 10, 2011. Last reviewed on April 25, 2013.

  • Phillip Kirchoff

    Tip 864 how do I select category and should I be in Mail or Contacts
    The directions are not discriptive or in a flow chart of step by step.

  • dianep

    You need to be in contacts to use this method. I've updated the post to clarify this and also added a video tutorial.

  • outlook whiz

    Correction needed to instructions for 2007 users
    ACTIONS > Create > new message

  • Sophie You

    This is a great video! I find this very help. However, after following all the steps my emails are not poping up in my "To" field. Can you please tell me why?

  • Diane Poremsky

    Does it work if you click the Meeting button instead?

  • jerri

    This is EXACTLY what I needed. It took me a really long time to get my search terms right and find this answer, but it was worth the search. Thank you so much.

  • Valerie Alberts

    is there a way for us to make the "to" the category instead of listing everyones name and address?

  • Diane Poremsky

    You need to add the addresses to the BCC field (select all, copy and paste). Create contact with the name of the category and use a valid address - put it in the To field.

  • speed

    I'd like to include my contacts' second and third email adresses when I send a whole category mail. Is there an easy / elegant way to do that? Many Thanks!

  • Diane Poremsky

    No, not really, well not if elegant = using a native feature. While it's easy to send to all 3 addresses when you use the New Email to contact command, when you select multiple contacts, outlook uses just the first address.

    You can do it using a macro - new message to selected contacts can be tweaked to add the additional email fields.

    Another option is create a view with all 3 address fields - remove *all* other fields from the view - then copy the category members. Paste into notepad and replace the white space* between addresses with ; (and delete the email field names from the top line) before pasting into the address field. *Notepad's search and replace can handle this. Copy the whitespace, press ctrl+h, paste the whitespace in the find field, type ; in the replace field.

  • speed

    Thanks, DP...I like both options, but being a visual learner I went straight to the 2nd one. However, I can't seem to find a way to get around doing individual find/replace actions for each line (I have over 150 lines). And, it also seems to be true when attempted in Word. It also appears I'm not living up to my screen name.

  • Diane Poremsky

    LOL When I use the second method, I paste into notepad, then select the white space -position the cursor at the end of the first address, hold shift and use the right arrow to select the white space. Ctrl+C to copy it. Ctrl+H to open the find & replace dialog, and Ctrl+V to paste it into the Find field (you know the paste worked only because the cursor position moves). Tab to the Replace field and type ; then hit Replace all button. Select all, Copy and you are ready to paste it into the address field.

  • Diane Poremsky

    If you still need help - I recorded a quickie video showing how to clean up the text in notepad.

  • William Axline

    when I add a new contact to my Outlook Contact list and want to add a category for the person - the category function is grayed out and does not work.
    It has always worked in earlier versions of Outlook - what has changed in the latest version of Outlook ?

  • Diane Poremsky

    Are you using Outlook 2013 with an IMAP account and storing the contacts in the IMAP data file? categories aren't completely supported in the IMAP data file.

  • Clark Hartness

    Has anyone been able to Create an Email from a Category List in Outlook 2013? This seems to be entirely too frickin hard to do IMHO

  • Diane Poremsky

    It works in Outlook 2013 exactly the same way as shown in the video on this page - Switch to a list view, Arrange By Category (View ribbon), select the category and on the Home ribbon, click the Email button.

  • Kayla

    My boss uses Outlook 2010, but when he selects multiple contacts and clicks the Email button, nothing happens. Any idea why it doesn't work, or what he could do to get around this?

  • Diane Poremsky

    A new message doesn't open at all? If he selects only 1 contact and clicks the button, do a new message open addressed to that contact?

  • Kayla

    It doesn't work even with just one contact selected!

  • Diane Poremsky

    I'm assuming the meeting button doesn't work either?

  • Kayla

    Nope - we just tested it, and the meeting button didn't work either.

  • Diane Poremsky

    Does everything else seem to work ok? I'm thinking the profile might be corrupt.

  • Kayla

    I'm not sure, but it seems like he has been dealing with a variety of other strange problems with Outlook. The most recent issue (besides the Email button) is that the first and last names of his contacts are reversed whenever he edits or adds a contact. Not sure if that is related to this problem, but it's pretty frustrating!

    Anyway, we'll look into restoring his profile, in case that's what's causing all the problems. Thanks for your help!

  • Diane Poremsky

    I'm not sure if that is related either. It not an uncommon problem if he syncs with a smartphone or imported contacts. Because it involves contacts, i am a little suspicious.

  • Anne Kuhns

    I'm having a similar issue with Outlook 2007 (PC is running Windows 7). I assigned categories to contacts, then went to View Arrange by Categories, highlighted the Category name then went to Actions Create New Message to Contact but absolutely nothing happens. No blank email comes up - nothing, and I don't get any error message. I can't get any results from New Message Request to Contact, either. Outlook seems to be working OK otherwise.

  • Diane Poremsky

    When you select the category, it should automatically select the contacts within the group when you choose New message to contact. I suspect it isn't. If you select the contacts (Select the first one in the group, then hold Shift and select the last), does it work as expected?

  • Anne Kuhns

    This is exactly what was going on and your suggestion worked. Thanks very much.