Mail's Previous Receipents folder

The Apple Mail (Mac OS) has a folder under the Window tab titled Previous Recipients This is one of the first places that Mail looks to complete the address information when one is addressing a message (New, Reply or Forward). This auto fill feature is valued

However it seems to me that the information in the Previous Recipients folder has changed. Previously the folder only contained the email information of people I HAD SENT a message to. Now it seems to contain those PLUS the addresses of some of the people that have sent me email messages.

Am I right that the criteria for inclusion in Previous Recipients has changed in the past year?

If so, is there a Preference setting in Mail to retorn to the good old days?


This bothers me because many more, mostly unknown destinations, are appearing when addressing an email message


A quick scan through my previous recipients list does not confirm that that it has changed. There are just a few which I can’t find in my sent box, but looks 99% genuine sent

However I do think it is a Royal Pain, and delete all my previous recipients regularly. The problem is when people change their email and send the new address to me. I change it in Contacts and delete the old one, but forget to also delete the old one from Previous Recipients.

Next time I send them an email Previous Recipients (or maybe Spotlight, or both) find and offer me the old address and new address so then I have check which is right.

I would like an option not use Previous Recipients at all. People I want to initiate emails to are all in my Contacts, so Mail offers them. That is enough.

I agree that regularly deleting the contents of Previous Recipients is a good practice. I do it occasionally but not on a schedule

I attaching a visual that (to me at least) proves that Previous Recipents displays the addresses of people / senders in addition to those you send email messages to.

Following MIke’s message yesterday I cleared the folder of all addresses Note the attached image

With the possible exception of the first displayed address ALL were email messages sent to to my account. I did NOT send them a message

My supposition in true. The folder contains addresses fro all incoming and outgoing email Since the spam addresses don’t show it may be only messages that I opened

I still think it used to be different

Mike is right. Regularly clear the folder of all content and you will be less bothered with the wrong address being offered up when creating an email message.

I don’t send email from my iPhone so I don’t know if a similar issue is there


I just checked my previous recipients list and I can confirm Jerry in FL’s comments that Mail does add names to the list when an e-mail is received.


That explains why I have so many Tidbits recipients. But how does one prevent Mail from attaching a random persons name to the list address?

Pretty sure my Tidbits list address was attached to a Jose in the past. It does this for every list I am on.


I, regularly, go to the folder and delete all.

I used to not do this in case I had sent a message to someone not in Contact but not one I wanted to add. Now, unfortunately, the Previous Receipents folder is garbage


Ouch. Discourse uses that reply+ technique to ensure that all replies go to the proper topic. It works far, far better than tracking Message-ID headers or Subject lines. But yeah, you’re going to want to delete all those or you could end up directing a message to the wrong topic.

Since before I started this topic, which became a thread, it became obvious to me that one could NOT just type a designation address before selecting an email (whether To or Cc or Bcc) type in Apple Mail I now clear the Previous Recipients folder almost every month; more often might make sene

There may be other email applications that don’t have this problem but Apple Mail is functiinally enough for me. The Previous R issue is minor for me IF I AM AWARE when creating a message

Bottom line? Purge the Previous Rec often

I have never had a mail group acquire a new person unless I created a vCard that included the parameter of a Smart Group.


Yes, I have to change my comment.

Mail DOES assign a random persons name to any group email address. My groups were Yahoo and Tidbits. I never had this issue in Eudora and I really haven’t used any other email program on the Mac since 1987.

Interestingly, it does NOT do this with the groups that have merged over to IO.

As far as the multiple messages as shown in my screen shot, that seems to be a Tidbits thing, with the exception of the IO group I manage, only for the emails I need to approve (those are reply emails similar to the Tidbits replies).