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Clean and Organize Email

Organizing and Cleaning-up Your Electronic Address Book

By: Janet L. Hall

(Editors Note: This article includes instructions for Outlook Express, Netscape Communicator, AOL, and ACT! users).

Has your email address book become unmanageable?

Do you ever look at all the email addresses and wonder, "Who are all these people?"

Do you have difficulty locating someone in your address book that you need to send email to NOW?

Do you know you can sort your email addresses by first and last name, name, email address and more?

Set a date and time with yourself that you will do the following exercises to organize and clean-up your electronic address book.

First you want to go and view your address book, see what kind of shape it's in.

Mine, for example, had 755 email addresses. Some had first name, some last, but most of them just had email addresses. One reason for that is that I have selected the option to automatically add the email address of anyone that sends me email (I've since turned this option off). I also found numerous duplicates and people that I didn't even know, let alone communicate with.

First let me demonstrate all the different ways you can view or sort your email address book, which will make for quicker organization and cleaning out:


  • Open Outlook Express

  • CLICK Tools at the top of screen

  • CLICK Address Book

A new window opens and you are presented with your Address Book.

Notice the columns have headings of NAME, E-MAIL Address, Business Phone, and Home Phone. Note: Don't worry if yours are a little different.

Place your mouse pointer at the top of the E-Mail Address column and CLICK. Now all your E-Mail addresses will be sorted in either ascending or descending order. CLICK again, and the reverse happens.

Each column can be sorted in ascending or descending order by placing your mouse pointer on the top of the column you want to sort  by and CLICKING. You can also do this by CLICKING on VIEW  (while in your address book) and CLICK Sort By.

Now, you can simply arrow down through each E-Mail address, deleting or editing as you go.

To DELETE an E-Mail Address:

CLICK on the "person" to highlight and CLICK Delete at the top of screen or the DELete key on your keyboard.

To EDIT an E-Mail Address:

Double CLICK on the "person" and CLICK on the NAME Tab to edit any information.

Now you might be like me, and not want to sit in front of the computer screen to edit and delete, although you will have to do this eventually. When I was cleaning up mine, I was getting ready to go to the doctors where I knew I would have to sit and wait. So I Exported my address book, printed it out, and did my editing on paper while sitting at the doctors. When I came back to my office I simply went through my edited list, deleting and editing my address book on the screen.

To EXPORT your address book:

  • While in your E-Mail Program, CLICK File and CLICK Export

  • CLICK Address Book

  • CLICK on Text File (Comma Separated Values)

  • CLICK Export

  • CLICK Browse (This is to locate what folder you are going to store it in; I use TEST, and to assign it a name; I use address book)


Now go and open the new file, it will be in EXCEL, adjust the columns and print out.


Basically you use the same steps to sort as an Outlook Express user; however, the wording is slightly different:

  • CLICK on Communicator

  • CLICK on Address Book

You will have more columns and you can even add more columns to sort on by clicking the side arrows at the bottom of your address book. You can also use VIEW. I did not see an Export Function in Netscape.

AOL Users:

I used a friend's AOL account to check out AOL's email functions and found the email addresses were already sorted in ascending order. I did not find a way to sort or export. However you can edit and delete.

ACT! Users:

More then an E-Mail program, yet you can sort by CLICKING on EDIT and then CLICK SORT. You can sort your people up to three different ways, either in ascending or descending order. To EXPORT, go to FILE, CLICK Data Exchange, CLICK Export and follow the wizard instructions.

Organizing Mass E-Mails:

If you find that you need to send the same mail message to several people all the time, such as a team at work, or a committee you're on, you can put them in a Group (Outlook Express, AOL, and ACT!) or List (Netscape) so you don't have to look for or type their E- Mail address all the time.

Create a group in Outlook Express:

  • Open your E-Mail program


  • CLICK on Address Book


Name your Group (this is what you will type into the TO: when you want to send them all the same E-Mail). Now just follow the instructions on your screen and start adding the people you want to be in this group.

AOL, ACT!, and Netscape programs have similar steps for creating groups. If you are using one of these programs, check out their HELP feature if you need help creating groups.

I have found that most E-Mail programs contain the above basic functions for organizing your E-Mail addresses; however, it would be next to impossible to try and include them all here. You can discover what your E-Mail program can do by checking out their HELP Section and you just might stumble across some neat "stuff."

Thank you for supporting me in my work.
Janet Hall is a Professional Organizer-Certified , Certified Pyramid Feng Shui Practitioner, Speaker, and Author and can help you regain control of your life, your time, your stuff, and your environment. Organizing By Phone and in person at

Copyright (c) 2001-2010 by OverHall Consulting
P.O. Box 263, Port Republic, MD 20676
All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce, copy, or distribute so long as article is kept intact, this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author is attached.


Janet L. Hall
P.O. Box 263
Port Republic, MD 20676
Email Janet
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