As the University grows we’re finding that the Outlook address book has an increasing number of names that are the same or very similar. When staff share names with students, and where confidential or personal information is being sent, there are very real risks involved in misdirected email causing reputational, financial or legal damage to the University.
There is no way to automatically detect these mistakes so we all need to take responsibility for ensuring that we have addressed our email to the correct recipients before sending.
Please read the sections below for advice on how to reduce the risk or get help if you think you might have misdirected an email.
- Using the Outlook address book to see more recipient details.
- Turning off the Outlook auto-complete feature.
- Checking the Outlook address book for duplicate or similar contacts.
- Getting help if you have misdirected an email.
Using the Outlook address book to see more recipient details
By using the Outlook address book to check the details (title, department, etc) of your recipient you can ensure you’re sending to the right person. To do this, open a new email and click the ‘To..’ button to bring up the address book. By default the window is quite small so hoover your mouse over the bottom right hand corner then click and drag until you can see all of the detail columns. You only need do this once and the new size will be remembered next time you open the address book.
Turning off the Outlook auto-complete feature
By default, Outlook remembers the email addresses you use; and as you start typing in the To, Cc or Bcc fields, will attempt to predict the address and automatically complete it for you. This saves time if Outlook's prediction is correct but can easily result in you inadvertently sending mail to the wrong recipient if it’s wrong.
To turn this feature off in Outlook 2010 click File > Options > Mail then scroll down to Send Messages and clear the tick box starting Use Auto-Complete ...
Checking the Outlook address book for duplicate or similar contacts
You can use the Outlook address book to see if anyone has a duplicate or similar name to yourself or one of your regular contacts.
Someone similar to yourself? If someone in the address book is a similar to yourself then let your regular contacts know. Ask them to take extra care when emailing you and advise them to enter your username to make it easier do so safely.
Someone similar to one of your regular contacts? If you find someone in the Outlook address book with a similar name to someone you email regularly then make a note of your contact's username (alias) and type this into the To field whenever you email them. Click Check Names and you'll see their full name come up. Finish composing your message but don’t forget to check the recipients again before you send.
What to do if you have misdirected an email
Don’t panic – accidents happen. Make sure you report the misdirect without delay so that we can take the right steps to protect everyone involved.