How to Share a Distribution List in Outlook

By | Apr 16, 2010

If you’re like me, you’re always creating different distribution lists to ease regular e-mailing.  I’ll have them for my boss’s direct reports, for his Chamber of Commerce contacts, for the Board of a non-profit he’s on.  Invariably, someone will realize I have the list and want to use it.  Sharing a private distribution list is actually quite easy.

  1. Open Microsoft Outlook, then open a new message.
  2. Open your Contacts in Outlook.
  3. Arrange your windows so that you can see both the new message and your contacts list.
  4. Drag the Distribution List from your Contacts to the new message, and send the message to the person who needs the list.

When the person receives the e-mail, all they need to do is reverse Step 4.  Drag the Distribution List from the e-mail to the Contacts list.

That’s it.  I told you it was easy.

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3 Comments so far
  1. Anna (2 comments) April 16, 2010 9:43 am

    Will this work if you want their copy of the distribution list to update as you add/delete people from your master list? I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do that for over a year!


  2. Jodith (189 comments) April 26, 2010 6:46 am

    Hi, Anna. Thanks for the question.

    You won’t be able to update their copy of the distribution list, only your own. These instructions apply only to private distribution lists. If you have a list that multiple people need to use, then you should have a public distribution list. You’ll need to contact whoever manages your e-mail server to set that up since you have to have special permissions to create and maintain a public list. You can also restrict who has access to a public list if you don’t want everyone to use it. If you are unable to set up a public list, then you’ll have to e-mail the updated distribution list to anyone who uses it every time you update the list. That’s what I had to do with one of my boss’s management team list. It was considered too small and selective to be a public list by the e-mail administrator, so I would make changes to it and then e-mail the updated list to the team whenever I made changes.

  3. elaine (2 comments) May 11, 2012 8:21 am

    this doesn’t work for me – i am unable to drag a distribution list or a contact into an open email body.

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