How to Create Custom Groups in Outlook 2016

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outlook contacts group

Do you tend to send emails to the same group of people? Save some time and effort emailing all those contacts at once by creating a custom contact group in Outlook 2016. At present, this feature only works if you have a business or school account, not a personal Office 365 account.

Outlook's Contact Group feature lets you send an email to a group of email addresses quickly under one name, e.g., "Family & Friends" or "Fellow Board Members." When you send an email to the Contact Group, it goes to all of the recipients you've specified for that group. Here's how to set it up.

1. Open Outlook and click on the Contacts icon in the bottom left navigation pane. (It looks like the silhouette of two people)

outlook contacts

2. Click the New Contact Group button under the Home tab. A new window opens.

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3. Under the Contact Group tab, click Add Members and select From Outlook Contacts.

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4. Hold down the CTRL key as you select each email contact you want to add to the Contact Group. 

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5. Click the Members button to add those specific contacts as your group members and click OK.

6. Enter a name for the group. after checking that you've got all the names and emails you want for your contact group.

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7. Click Save & Close under the Contact Group tab. 

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When you want to send a message to all of the members in this group, create a new email as usual, but put your new Contact Group name in the "To..." field. (Start typing it in and you should be able to select the group from Outlook's autocomplete.) You can check who's in the distribution list by clicking the plus (+) sign besides the Contact Group name and, if needed, delete or add email addresses to the recipients list.

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This is one of the best email shortcuts in Outlook when you have to send a mass email. You can also add the Contact Group to the CC or BCC field. Just make sure you upgrade your Contact Group if and when someone should no longer be on your emailing list. (Go to Contacts, click on the group name, and then click Edit to add or remove contacts from the group.) 

Add a comment
  • P J Porter Says:

    followed instructions above and when tried to "Save & Close" for a MS Box "unknown error" with no explanation or direction. very annoying.

  • Yvonne Maddox Says:

    I did a test email to my gmail and unfortunately, you can see every email address to which you sent the group email. How can I make it so people can't see every email address? I tried putting it in only the CC box and it did the same! Even Gmail is better than that! Any ideas?

  • John G Says:

    Disappointed MS couldn't include such a basic feature in their Personal Office...

  • Nat B Says:

    Everything above won't work with and/or - that's what is meant by does not work with 'Personal Office365' account.

    I think this is a take back from Hotmail ...

  • Paul V Says:

    My "New Contact Group" button is greyed out so I cannot select it. Do you know how I can undo this because I need to create custom groups.

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