When typing a recipient's name in the "To:" field, Mail.app will bring up an autocomplete menu showing all email addresses for that recipient (e.g., Home and Work). If I don't pay attention and just hit Enter or Tab to autocomplete the recipients name, Mail.app picks the first address.

Is there a way to choose the default email address that Mail.app selects for the autocomplete of a recipient? I'm not sure if this settings resides in Mail.app or the Address Book.


In the example below, there are two email addresses for the recipient. Mail.app defaults to the Home email, whereas I'd prefer it to default to the Work email for this contact.

Mail.app Recipient Autocomplete

  • 1
    You can use <kbd> for keyboard shortcuts. ;)
    – user3227
    Feb 10, 2011 at 20:00

4 Answers 4


You can if you have the contact in a group in Address Book. Select the group, then go to Edit > Edit Distribution List... You can select the contact's default email address (the default one is marked in bold). As far as I know, this only sets the default address when emailing that group, though. I don't know of a way to set a default address for a "normal" contact. (After trying to figure out a way off and on for several years, I'm inclined to say it isn't possible, but hopefully someone will prove me wrong.)

  • I'm afraid you're correct. For this particular contact, I have his default address for the distribution lists that he's in set to his work email address. However, whenever I email just him, I end up accidentally sending it to his home email address. Feb 10, 2011 at 17:40

Remove the email address you don't want to be the default from the 'Previous Recipients' list in Mail.app:

Mail -> Window -> Previous Recipients -> Search for Name

This will make the default (and much faster) first address the one in the Previous List and any others in the address book will be further down the auto-complete list.

This works until that recipient sends you a new email from that same address, which puts that email address back into the queue.


What order are the addresses in in Address Book? If you put the work address first there, it might be on top in the Mail list and be the default selection.

  • The work email is first in the Address Book. Feb 10, 2011 at 18:29
  • Then maybe make it last? Not the most logical solution, but the strangest things work sometimes.
    – Cajunluke
    Feb 10, 2011 at 19:21
  • See my answer: remove the unwanted email from the previous recipients list in Mail.app, which is separate from the address book.
    – alfwatt
    Nov 14, 2012 at 20:53

I had to perform the following steps to make this work.

  • Edit addresses in Contacts using cut-and-paste to make the one I wanted as default at the top
  • Mail -> Window -> Previous Recipients -> Search for Name -> Delete
  • Send email to new default address
  • Restart Mail

All of which is a bit of a PITA, but at least it's working now.

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