What Are Outlook Distribution Lists?
Email wasn’t designed with privacy in mind. This is clearly apparent when you send the same message to multiple senders by adding their names to the To or Cc fields. In such cases, all of the included recipients are made aware of who else has received the message.
The Bcc field addresses this problem by sending a new blank carbon copy of your message to multiple recipients, but it can be really tiring having to manually enter each and every email address whenever you want to send the same message to a group of people.
That’s where Outlook distribution lists/groups (referred to as contact groups in newer versions of the email client) come in. Essentially, they are customizable lists of mail addresses that make it much easier to email groups of people, such as other members of your team, your college friends, or your family members.
It has been possible to create a mailing list in Outlook since Office 2007, but you shouldn’t feel bad if you’ve just discovered the feature. The detailed instructions provided in the next section of this article will help you master it in no time.
How to Create a Distribution List in Outlook Desktop App
Let’s take a closer look at how to make a distribution list in Outlook on Mac, Windows, and the web. For the most part, the process is very similar across all platforms, but there are some minor yet important differences you need to know about.
💡 Note: Our instructions are meant only for newer versions of Outlook (2013 or later).
Creating a Distribution List in Outlook on Mac
The creation of a distribution list in the Mac version of Microsoft’s mail client is complicated by the fact that Microsoft released the so-called New Outlook client a few years ago.
The redesigned version of Outlook is easier to use and comes with multiple useful improvements, but it’s still missing some features that were included in the legacy version of Outlook, with distribution groups being among them.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to learn how to revert back to the legacy version of Outlook, so make sure to do that before you follow the steps below:
- Launch Outlook.
- Click the People icon at the bottom of the left pane.
- Click the New Contact List button in the top toolbar.
- Name the new contact list and double-click the empty list below to add as many recipients as you want.
- Click the Save icon.
Make sure to click the “Use Bcc to hide member information” checkbox if you don’t want your recipients to know about one another.
Making a Distribution List in Outlook on Windows
To make a distribution group in Outlook on Windows:
- Launch Outlook.
- Choose the People image at the bottom.
- Click the small arrow next to New Contact and select the Contact Group option.
- Name the new contact group and double-click the empty list below to add as many recipients as you want.
- Click Save & Close.
That was easy, wasn’t it?
How to Create a Distribution List in Outlook 365
The web version of Outlook also supports distribution lists, and here’s how you can create one:
- Open Outlook 365 in your web browser and log in.
- Choose the People icon in the left pane.
- Click the arrow next to New contact and select the New contact list.
- Name the new contact list and add email addresses.
- Click Create when done.
As you can see, creating a distribution list in Outlook on the web isn’t too different from creating one on Windows or Mac.
How to Test a Distribution List
Once you’ve created a distribution list on the platform of your choice, you should test it to see if it works as intended. To do that:
- Launch Outlook.
- Create a new message.
- Enter the name of the mailing list you want to test in the “to” field.
- Send the message.
You can use this same exact process to test a mailing list on any platform.
Manage Your Outlook Messages Better
If you rely on your Outlook inbox on a regular basis, often sending messages to the same recipients, you should equip yourself with a tool like Clean Email to organize them better.
You can think of Clean Email as your own personal email management assistant. When you give the tool access to your inbox (don’t worry — its developers designed it to respect your privacy and protect your security), it automatically sorts your messages for you into easy-to-review bundles, called Smart Folders.
You can then manage multiple messages that have something in common in just one step. To make your life even easier, Clean Email lets you set up the so-called Auto Clean rules when managing messages. Auto Clean rules are triggered automatically whenever a new message matching specified conditions arrives in your inbox, making it possible for you to essentially run it on autopilot.
These and many other useful features (such as Unsubscriber, Read Later, or Privacy Guard) can be used not just by Outlook users but also by the users of Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, and most other popular mail services.
Why is the New Contact List button grayed out on Mac?
If the New Contact List button is grayed out on your Mac, then you need to go to Preferences > General and Uncheck the “Hide On My Computer folders” check box. Then, restart Outlook and try again.
What is the difference between contact group vs distribution group/list in Outlook?
There’s no difference at all. It’s just that Microsoft calls the feature a distribution list in some versions of its email client and a contact group in other versions.
How to add someone to a distribution group in Outlook Office 365?
To add someone to a distribution group in Outlook Office 365:
1. Open Outlook 365 in your web browser and log in.
2. Click the People image in the left panel.
3. Click the small arrow next to New contact and select the New contact list.
4. Name the new contact list and add email addresses.
5. Click Create when done.