Combining Outlook distribution lists

This really should be as easy and clicking a couple buttons, selecting the groups to merge and hitting OK. I can’t believe there isn’t a nice way within Outlook to do this. I have 7 distribution lists that I’m going to merge into probably 2 lists. We use this to send attachments so it’s nice to break it up and not clog up the server all at the same time, but we don’t need this broken up that much.

  1. What you want to do is open each group that you’re wanting to merge together and go to the file menu, then save as.
  2. On the save as type line make sure to select text only (*.txt) and remember where you save it. The text files will look something like this:textfile
  3. Delete the lines at the top so all you have in your text file are the names and email address. Do this for all the text files.
  4. This next part I find easier to do with excel. In Excel (2010) go to the Data tab and select from text. Select delimited and hit next. I only need to select tab because I’m wanting to remove the email address outside of the parentheses. If you select tab and space it will split them into 3 columns, which isn’t necessary. This way we can delete the entire column at once. Actually, after completing this I had some lists that were formatted differently so I had to play around a bit. As long as you get the duplicated email address in it’s own column that will work.
  5. Highlight column B where the duplication of the address is and delete it.
  6. Now this is where I’m sure there are multiple ways to do this, but I’m not an Excel expert so this is what I figured out. What we need to do next is add a semi-colon to the end of each line to separate the people. What you should have now is something like this:
  7. I used a formula to do this. In column B1 type =A1&”;” to get this:
  8. Now click and drag the corner of cell B1 down the column to add the semi-colon the the rest of the fields. There’s probably a macro that can do this, but I have no experience with them so this isn’t too bad. My lists aren’t that large.
  9. What I did next was copy the column with the added semi-colon and paste it into a new notepad file. I did this with all 7 of my groups. You can either just keep appending the one file or put them into multiple, user preference.
  10. Now go into Outlook and create a new contact group.
  11. Click on add members and choose either from outlook contacts or from address book, it gets you to the same place.
  12. Now instead of selecting people from the address book go to your notepad file, copy and paste all of those people separated by the semi-colon into the members box and hit OK.

If you’re only merging a couple groups you can probably just paste directly from Excel into the members box. I had 7 to do so it was easier for me to go through notepad first.

I found this info on another site so I’m definitely not taking credit for it. Just adding it to my little notebook since I know I’ll be needing it again at some point.




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