Create distribution list in Outlook: Edit, Manage & Share

Do you want to send an email to several contacts at the same time? Then learn here how to create a distribution list in Outlook.

How to create a distribution list in Outlook

If you want to send a circular email to several email addresses and save time, then the distribution list of Outlook is a useful tool for this. The function of the distribution list is somewhat hidden in the current Outlook versions and you can find again as a contact group.

You can combine as many contacts as you want and add them to a distribution list by creating a contact group.

Why should I create email distribution lists in Outlook?

As already mentioned, the distribution list in Outlook ensures that you reach several recipients with one mail. This way you don’t need to write to them all individually, and you save a lot of time.

Thus, it is a very practical tool of Outlook that we will examine in more detail in the following paragraphs. Learn here how to create an email distribution list in Outlook!

What is distribution list in Outlook?

The Outlook distribution list is an elegant and efficient way to send many emails at once. Such a contact group can be, for example, the project team, the own department, selected customers or even the own circle of friends.

In the meantime, Microsoft has renamed the previous “distribution lists” to “contact groups.” But this has not changed anything.

How to create a distribution list in Outlook

We will now explain how to create a distribution list in Outlook step by step.

Open the contact list

To open the contact list, scroll down on the start page with the mouse wheel. Now click on the icon that has the outline of a figure. Now a window should open where you can view your contacts.

Create a new group

On the left side, you will now see, among other things, the term groups. But since you haven’t created one yet, there’s not much to see here yet. Instead, look all the way up to the New Contact tab and click New Contact Group.

Name the group

Now enter a name for the group. You also have the option to enter a short description. All members can see this.

Select members

In the next step, you select the members on your distribution list. You can either add people from your Outlook address book or from your email contacts. To do this, click on “Add members” in the “Members” group on the “Contact group” tab. To add a person, double-click on it and confirm with OK.

Save distribution list in Outlook & exit

You have now created your first distribution list in Outlook and only need to confirm and finish the whole process.

By the way, the distribution list can be modified and adapted at any time, for example, if you want to add more members or remove existing ones. To do this, proceed in the same way as described above and carry out the corresponding actions.

Create an Outlook distribution list on Excel

You can also create a distribution list (contact group) in Outlook directly from Excel files. All you have to do is copy the respective names and email addresses in the Excel spreadsheet or workbook and paste them into the distribution list, done. A time-consuming import or export is not necessary. Proceed as follows.

  • Select the rows and columns in the Excel spreadsheet containing the desired people’s names and email addresses.
  • Copy them to the clipboard (either using → “CTRL + C” or by right-clicking and then selecting the option → Copy in the context menu).
  • Switch to your Outlook program, click – as described in point 1 above – in the People/Contacts area on → New contact group, give the new distribution list a meaningful name.
  • Click in the menu at the top on → Add members and select the option → From Outlook contacts.
  • Now click in the new dialog box at the very bottom in the input line to the right of “Members” (see Fig. 2), paste the data from the clipboard (either using → “CTRL + V” or right mouse click and the option → Paste)
  • And confirm the selection copied in by clicking → Ok. And the distribution list creation from Excel is ready!

Edit, save, manage & share distribution lists

Distribution lists are a very useful tool in Outlook. That’s why you can share and share with colleagues. Then they can also use your compiled distribution list(s). This is important, not least for the substitution ability, for example, in case of vacation or illness. To share a distribution list contact group in Outlook, simply follow the steps below.

Note: In order to share Outlook items such as distribution lists and contact groups with other Outlook users, both require the Microsoft Exchange Server or Microsoft Exchange Online sharing tool. This is included by default in every Microsoft 365 subscription. In addition, your company may also not have restricted the sharing policies accordingly.

  • Open Outlook, click → People (Contacts) at the bottom left and then click the contact group you want to share in the folder selection on the left side of the screen.
  • Then click the → Share Contacts button under the → Start tab and enter the recipient’s name in the sharing invitation email.
  • The recipient just needs to click on the link in the share invitation → “Open this contact folder” done.

If an error message interrupts the sharing process in the meantime, ask your IT administrator to check the sharing policy of your email account. You can learn mail merge in our following guide How to Mail Merge in MS Word.

Simply send the distribution list by email

Instead of sharing the distribution list, you can simply email the contact group. This way, the recipient does not get access rights to your folder, as is the case with sharing, but can easily copy or save the distribution list to his or her own contact folder. To do this, proceed as follows:

  • Open a new email in its own window (not just in the reading pane) and enter the recipient and subject.
  • Then select Category → People (Contacts) in the main Outlook window and adjust the application windows so that Outlook and the new email are displayed side by side.
  • Now simply drag and drop the contact group (distribution list) from the contact folder into the email text box and send the email as usual.
  • The distribution list is now in the attachment as an Outlook item and can be opened by the recipient or simply dragged directly into his/her contact folder.

Send emails with an Outlook distribution list

Sending and sending an email from an Outlook distribution list is quite simple. All you have to do is to decide beforehand whether the individual recipient addresses should be visible to all recipients or not.

Basically, every recipient can see the other people’s email addresses in a distribution list if they are in “To” or “Cc”. Only in “Bcc” all other email addresses of the distribution list are not visible, only their own. And this is how you set this:

  • Click either in the “To”, “Cc”, or “Bcc” address field. And type in the name of the contact group in question. Outlook will then show you the entries from your address book that match the entry.
  • Alternatively, you can also click on the respective “To”, “Cc”, or “Bcc” button. Now the entire contact list is displayed. In contrast to individual contacts, distribution groups are displayed in bold.
  • Then enter the desired email text and subject and send the email as usual.

Create email templates for the distribution lists

A real efficiency turbo for frequent email work is using email templates. Because as different as the content of the emails may be, the same building blocks are often needed. And that’s exactly why you can easily create individual email templates in Outlook.

Then all you have to do in the future is change the current details – and the group mail for the distribution list is ready! Another way to save yourself a lot of paperwork in email correspondence is the practical text modules.

Simply save frequently used text phrases, blocks or even entire paragraphs (including formatting) as a text module, and you get a shortcut for quick insertion. You can find out in the following WireDale‘s instructions.

Quick guide

  • Click on the “Start” tab and select the “Contacts” icon at the bottom left.
  • Create your distribution list via “New contact group”.
  • Name your distribution list and click on “Add members”. Select your desired option here.
  • For the “From address book” option, select your desired contacts by double-clicking on them. Confirm your selection with “OK”.
  • Click on the “Save & close” field.

By composing an email and inserting your newly created distribution list as the recipient, check your distribution list.

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