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Viewing Outlook Contacts by Group

By Bill Dyszel

Contact lists can get pretty long after awhile; you can easily collect a few thousand contacts in a few years. Sorting a list that long means that if you’re looking for stuff starting with the letter M, for example, you have to go about three feet below the bottom of your monitor screen to find that contact, no matter what you do.

Groups are the answer (no, you don’t have to sign up for Outlook Anonymous). Outlook already offers you several predefined lists that use grouping.

You can use several types of view in Outlook:

  • Sorted list: This view is like a deck of playing cards laid out in numerical order, starting with the deuces, then the threes, then the fours, and so on up through the picture cards.
  • Grouped view: This view is like seeing the cards arranged with all the hearts in one row, then all the spades, then the diamonds, and then the clubs.
  • Other views: Outlook also has several other view types that don’t apply to contacts, such as Timeline and Address Cards.

You may find gathering items of similar types into groups handy for tasks such as finding all the people on your list who work for a certain company when you want to send congratulations on a new piece of business. Because Outlook users find grouping by company so frequently useful, the By Company view is set up as a predefined view in Outlook.

To use the By Company view, follow these steps:

1. Click the Contacts button in the Navigation Pane.

The Contacts module opens with its current view displayed.

2. Choose the By Company view from the list in the Navigation Pane.

Each gray bar labeled Company: (name of company) has a little box at the left with a plus or minus sign on it. Click a plus sign to see additional names under the company’s heading; a minus sign indicates that no more entries are available.

3. Click the plus icon to see entries for the company listed on the gray bar.

This grouping thing gets really handy if you assign categories to your contacts as you create items. If you’re clever about how you use and add categories that fit the work you do, you can find grouping by category a huge timesaver.

If the predefined group views don’t meet your needs, you can group items according to just about anything you want, assuming that you’ve entered the data.

To see the By Category view, follow these steps:

1. Click the Contacts button in the Navigation Pane.

The Contacts view appears.

2. Choose the By Category view from the list in the Navigation Pane.

Each gray bar has an icon on the left side with a plus or a minus, followed by Category: (name of Category). A minus indicates that no entries are hidden under that category heading; a plus means more entries are available.

3. Click a plus-sign icon to see more entries for the Category listed on the gray bar.

Grouping is a good way to manage all Outlook items, especially contacts. After you get a handle on using groups, you can save a lot of time when you’re trying to find things.