How to Turn Off Contacts Found in Mail from Mac OS X

Feb 4, 2016 - 2 Comments

Mail app icon Modern versions of Mail app for Mac OS X and iOS default to scanning through email content to suggest contacts and fill in additional information about existing contacts. While this can offer a convenient way of easily filling in and uncovering contact information exchanged through emails, it can also frequently be inaccurate, leading to erroneous contact information added to people and entries within the address book. And, because the Mac address book is synced to the iPhone contacts through iCloud, any peculiarities or inaccurate contact information found in email on a Mac will end up on your iOS devices too. Fortunately, it’s easy to disable the contact suggestions when contacts are “found in Mail” in the Mac OS X Mail app client.

By the way, if you’re turning this off on a Mac, you’ll likely want to also disable the contacts found in Mail feature in iOS too.

Disabling Contact Suggestions Found in Mail for Mac OS X

This disables the contacts found in Mail feature, and also removes any currently suggested contacts from the address book:

  1. Quit Mail app on the Mac
  2. Open the Contacts application in Mac OS X, it’s found within the /Applications/ folder
  3. Contacts app in Mac OS X

  4. Pull down the Contacts menu and choose “Preferences” then go to the General tab
  5. Uncheck the box next to “Show contacts found in Mail”
  6. Turn  off contacts found in Mail in Mac OS X

  7. Confirm that you want to turn the contacts found in Mail feature off, as well as remove any existing contact suggestions as found in Mail by clicking on the “Turn Off” button
  8. Confirm to disable contact suggestions as found in Mail for Mac OS X

  9. Exit out of Contacts app and relaunch Mail to use the email client as usual

Now emails will no longer be scanned by Mail and Contacts for any possible suggestions in Mac OS X. If you use an iPhone or iPad, don’t forget to turn off the contact suggestions from Mail in iOS as well.

Some users like this feature a lot, but it can also be annoying, it really depends on your experience with it and how accurate the suggestions have been. Personally I’ve discovered the suggested contacts are often just outright wrong, where nearly any string of numbers are frequently and erroneously added to a contact as an additional phone number despite not being even close to accurate. An even more frustrating experience was encountered by a friend recently, where their Mac and iPhone were adding third party contact information discussed in emails to existing contacts, thereby confusing two completely unrelated entities and once even leading to false caller ID identification – not too smart. With that said, this feature will undoubtedly improve over time as it learns to better identify and associate address book details, but for the time being it seems to be a ‘love it or hate it’ function in the Mail applications of iOS and OS X.

Of course if you want to reverse this and re-enable contact suggestions as found in Mail, just return to the Contacts app preferences and check the box again. Relaunching Mail app will then scan the emails within the inbox and contacts will be re-added as they are found.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

2 Comments

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  1. Matt says:

    Can you do this on the iphone as well (running latest software)

    Thanks

  2. Ian Douglas says:

    Is like this “Show contacts found in mail” feature, but it adds every inbound sender — even those that need to be included into “Junk Mail”. Is there any way to avoid those goofy email addresses from being included into search? They are not in the “previous recipients” but they are in the search field, and I have no way to clean that up — including following the suggesstions in this article. I’m using Sierra.

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