How to remove autocompleting zombie contacts from iPhone Mail

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remove suggested mail contacts
Addresses aren't as easy to delete as they once were.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Mail app on your Mac and your iPhone/iPad does a lot for you, which is usually good. But sometimes it’s a little too helpful, like when it keeps autocompleting an old, unused email address for one of your contacts. Most of us just start tapping a name into the To: field, and pick the top result from the list. But Mail will sometimes put “zombie” addresses in there, addresses that you have deleted from your contacts, but which are being remembered anyway.

Today, we’ll see how to get rid of those zombie email autocompletes.

Why do zombie contacts exist?

Suggested mail addresses have an ⓘ next to them.
Suggested mail addresses have an ⓘ next to them.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Mail app keeps a list of often-used email addresses, so you can enjoy the benefits of auto-complete, without having to explicitly add those folks to your contacts list. Usually that’s just fine. I don’t necessarily want all my PR contacts in my address book, but I do want to be able to mail them when needed, for example.

The problem comes when Mail keeps suggesting an old email address that’s no longer active. Even if you’ve deleted it from the address book entry for that contact, it may still stick around.

How to remove suggested contacts on iPhone and iPad

How to remove suggested contacts on iPhone and iPad.
How to remove suggested contacts on iPhone and iPad.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Removing a suggested contact is easy, but also non-obvious, like most of Apple’s features. Here’s how:

  1. Open mail and compose a new message.
  2. Start typing the contact’s name in the To: field.
  3. Temporary “zombie” contacts have a ⓘ next to them.
  4. Tap the ⓘ. You’ll see the contacts page for this email address
  5. Tap Remove from Recents to do just that.

Congratulations. You’ve just removed that annoying zombie email address from Mail app. While you were doing this, you probably noticed a whole bunch of emails in there that you will never need again, or didn’t even realize you’d had any contact with. You could go through the entire list, removing them all, but it’ll only start to fill up again. You never really noticed them before, so it’s easiest just to ignore them.

Better to save this trick to remove emails that you keep using accidentally. And you should bookmark this page for future reference. Does a friend of your keep sending email to that old Gmail address of your that you never use any more? Send them this how-to, and threaten to unfriend them IRL if they don’t follow it.