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Email Address Autofill Feature

For email, the autofill is something we have all come to love and embrace. It makes our life a little easier when we create and send out our emails, by helping us fill out the TO, CC and BCC fields when we need it. We type in a few letters and presto – up pops a list of email addresses, relevant to what we typed. How cool is that! We select the address we want, send and off it goes – into and across the mysterious abyss we call the Internet.

As magical as it is, there are times it’s not all that magical. Like an incorrect email address or simply unwanted. The addresses remain in our list, and we skip over it to select the one we want. The list overtime becomes oversaturated with unnecessary muck.

But do we clean it – not right away. Chances are it will get pushed off until it becomes down right annoying.

I have found that most of the time the autofill list is something we accept but don’t really understand.

What is the Autofill List?

The list is a collection of email addresses that can be “learned” or “picked up” by the email program on your computer.So, what does this mean? Well each time you manually type in an email address, or get an email from someone, that address can get added to this list. So, this continues to grow.

What You Need To Know

  • It’s TEMPORARY
    This list is never designed to be a permanent. It was designed to make life easier for us, without the hassles of opening our address book every time. It can be cleared or modified at any time.
  • It is TRANSFERABLE
    Because of its nature of being temporary, it’s often overlooked as something that needs to be moved from one computer to another. If you need this list, be sure to mention that its needed in you backups and when you move to a new computer.
  • It’s a RISK
    Most people will not see this as a risk, but its cost many companies embarrassment and financial lost. Take a moment to be sure the address in the list is actually the person intended to receive it – I cannot stress this enough. Similar email addresses can easily be miss interpreted, and without thinking the email goes to someone else.

Managing the List

These lists can and should be regularly managed, or even cleared. Each email program has a similar way of do this.

  • Microsoft Outlook: To delete items in this list, open an email and start typing in the TO, CC, or BCC field – so the list pops up. Use your arrow keys (up and down) to select the email you want to remove from this list. Notice at the end of the email address a delete symbol will appear – click it to remove that email from the list.

    If you want to turn off or on this feature, or clear the list, then: Go to File, then Options, and select Mail. At the end of the section Send Messages, you will find a checkbox and button for this.

  • Mozilla Thunderbird: To delete items in this list, open your Address Book to get to the Collected Addresses to delete the entries you do not want or need.

    To turn on or off the autocomplete feature: Go to Tools, then Options, and select Composition. You will find all your options here on how the auto completion list is created.

  • Mac Mail: To delete items in this list there are two methods, depending on the version of Mac Mail:
    • Direct: Open an email and start typing in the TO or CC field – so the list pops up. Use your arrow keys (up and down) to select the email you want to remove from the list, and then press the delete key on your keyboard.
    • Common: With Mac Mail open, click on Window in the main menu at the top of the screen. Then select Previous Recipients, which will open up a window to manage this list. Delete as needed by selecting the email then clicking on Remove From List.

The Good Bad and Ugly

The security risks for using the email autofill feature are real – it can contribute to Data Leakage. If you send sensitive materials, this could potentially be a problem if sent information gets in the wrong hands by accident. Many companies either turn this feature off, or have the list cleared daily.

We recommend at very minimal keeping this list regularly cleaned – purging incorrect or unneeded addresses.

We Can Help

MyITAssistant can help you secure your autofill lists by creating a manageable solution to fit your needs.

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