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Display previous recipient information Apps
Have you ever wanted an easy way to see who you've recently emailed, to either add them to your Address Book, or perhaps to create a new mailing list or mailing group? I know I have.

By accident, I closed my main Mail viewer window, and was looking for how to open it back up (not terribly obvious -- it's in the 'File' menu), and I found the Previous Recipients viewer (Window menu -> Previous Recipients) and tried it. It's a sortable and searchable list of addresses you have previously sent Mail to. You can also use it to clear out some or all of your non-Address-Book, auto-completing history of email addresses.

I guess this could sort-of also be used to check on activity for a Mail client that has deleted the items in its "Sent" mailbox. Chalk this up as another not-so-obvious, but pretty cool feature.

[robg adds: Generally speaking, we don't run menu option hints, as I consider them to be 'obvious' and most users should discover them in their exploration of the app or system. However, sometimes I make exceptions for exceptionally useful items that may be overlooked. I asked a couple of Mail users about this one this morning, and neither had ever seen this window. So I chose to run it ... flame away! :) ]
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Display previous recipient information
Authored by: flipflop on Oct 25, '04 11:21:00AM

Great tip!

I mean it, I endlessly looked for a way how to remove an old email address of a friend who swithched ISP. I looked around everywhere, for some option to erase caches and setting the updated address in Address book, and so on. Without any results...

So this is where Apple stores the data. Cool!

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more useful than it looks
Authored by: NeutronMonk on Oct 25, '04 11:34:34AM

The "Previous Recipients" window also lists those mailers that have requested, and received, a "return receipt"- these don't show up in "Sent Mail".

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Authored by: gerti on Oct 25, '04 11:35:06AM

I seem to remember times when software came with manuals. That was great, one could skim through the manuals, and find all the neat features that were not immediately obvious.

And when software was updated, release notes in the manual would quickly point out new features.

Instead now we have a 'Help Viewer' which is clunky at best, and more often than not basically just points out the obvious.

Apple, can we have manuals back please?

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Display previous recipient information
Authored by: myriapod on Oct 25, '04 12:19:49PM

Are you telling me that is sending out receipts to spammers without asking me? I see UNKNOWN addresses into the previous recipients list!
This would be awful.

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Display previous recipient information
Authored by: yosithezet on Oct 26, '04 02:23:21AM

From what I can tell you are correct. And I can't find a way to tell it to NOT send return receipts. This is awful!

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What tells you it's sending return receipts?
Authored by: hamarkus on Oct 26, '04 05:56:23AM

What tells you that Mail is sending return receipts? I interpret that list as the one Mail uses for address auto-completion, with Mail simply collecting all E-mail addresses it can get hold of, i.e. all those you have sent E-mails to and all those you received E-mail from.

And I can tell you that this panel has been in Mail for quite some time. It even predates the brushed metall Addressbook, which should mean it's been in there since 10.1 at least.

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What tells you it's sending return receipts?
Authored by: NeutronMonk on Oct 26, '04 02:09:10PM

I set up a Hotmail account on my win box to test this- Outlook has the capability for requesting receipts. Sure enough- the return receipt address showed up in the "Previous Recipients" folder on my mac, and my win box went "ding"!

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I could not reproduce this w/ Netscape 4.7 nor Exchange WebAccess receipts
Authored by: hamarkus on Nov 20, '04 07:48:06AM

Using Netscape 4.7 under Classic, the only e-mail client I have installed than can ask for return receipts, and the MS Exchange WebAccess I sent e-mails to myself asking for a receipt. Opened it in Mail. Nothing happened. Opened in Netscape 4.7 and agreed to send a receipt via a dialogue box. Received a return receipts downloaded both by Mail and Netscape.

So, return receipts at least those asked for by Netscape 4.7 and Exchange WebAccess are not sent by Mail.

There is a second kind of receipt, delivery receipts, for which Exchange WebAccess can ask for. These, however, are sent out by the mail server itself, accnowledging the existance and functioning of the e-mail account.

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and Junk Mail too...
Authored by: markl2 on Oct 25, '04 12:36:36PM

First - thanks for running this hint. I think it gets the "Hiding in Plain Sight" award. I've been wondering about the mythical "Previous Recipients" list for ages and never found it...

Just to people know, this Previous Recipients list can also be used in Junk Mail filtering: See Preferences > Junk Mail tab. Under "The following types of messages are exempt from junk filtering:" there is a checkbox "Sender of message is in my Previous Recipients". I believe it is checked by default.

This is how I knew the list existed, but had no idea where it was. On of my things-to-do was to go plowing through's files to see if I could find it. (One of the perils of being a software developer: we're all too comfortable rooting about in the muck!)

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Display previous recipient information
Authored by: fil0124 on Oct 25, '04 04:00:57PM

This closes what I thought was a gap in! When composing new emails, I always tried to type a previous recipient's name in the To: field, hoping for autocomplete, but it never worked. Now I can easily either add them to my address book, or simply remember what the email address is, without having to guess and use the search field.

Only a savings of three seconds, but hey, it's a savings of three seconds x3 gillion emails.

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Display previous recipient information
Authored by: dashard on Nov 20, '04 02:47:52PM

Erm, uh, that's 9 gillion seconds.

You can't *save* more time than you'll actually live.
Just wanted to clear that up for anyone getting all hopped up with 'secret of eternal life' kind of ideas.

OK. I'm done. Go back to what you were doing...

(What are you looking at?)

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Display previous recipient information
Authored by: sven on Oct 25, '04 04:25:50PM

Great hint! That's what happens when you've been using the same app for a long time: They sneak in a feature somewhere and you never notice. And the more you rely on shortcuts, the less likely it is you notice the new menu items.

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Not really a new feature
Authored by: hamarkus on Oct 26, '04 06:06:02AM

As I said in previous comment, this feature has been in there at least since 10.1.

But I could swear they introduced the option to send Windows friendly attachments only with version 10.3.4 ...

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Display previous recipient information
Authored by: lixlpixel on Oct 27, '04 07:08:07AM
there is no scrollbar in that window.
the only way i can scroll in that "last recipients" window is klicking and dragging the mouse.

is it only on my Mac or is that a bug ?

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no scrollbar
Authored by: TigerKR on Oct 27, '04 08:40:45AM

I've got one (a scroll-bar). Try re-logging (log out and in), and then see if the problem persists. If it does, are you running an OS theme (aka ShapeShifter)?

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no scrollbar
Authored by: lixlpixel on Oct 27, '04 10:36:23AM
thanks for the reply...

still no scrollbars -> see the screenshot.

although i just restarted (i can't afford to log out/log in right now - i got tons of applications that run 24/7 - and kind of have to)

weird - and no, no shape shifting on my mac - nothing special at all...
well - i guess i find out the next time Apple post some "critical" update and i *have* to restart the machine...

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No scrollbar
Authored by: Ptitboul on Dec 14, '04 07:34:13AM

I have no scrollbar either, but PageUp / PageDown allows to browse the whole list.

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How can you change this information
Authored by: Ptitboul on Dec 14, '04 07:43:17AM
The information on previous recipients is stored in ~/Library/Application\ Support/AddressBook/ in some obscure formatting. I would like to edit some of these records.

The window from only allows to delete records, or to create a new item in the address book (and adding a flag in the "previous recipients" database telling that it has been added to the addressbook.

The modifications I want to make are:
- delete the "in addressbook" flag when the entry has been deleted from addressbook (this is not done automatically)
- change the information about first name and last name (for the case when I want to use the auto-completion feature without adding the address to the addressbook).

The developper's guideline about the Addressbook framework does not seem to explain how to access the "previous recipients" database.

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Display previous recipient information
Authored by: alanr on Apr 08, '05 12:35:43PM

Deleting my previous recipient list shrunk my Address Book data file from 100M to 3M, and sped up (very slow) Address Book enough to be usable again.

I think what happened was that I was archiving junk mail in case I wanted to retrain another spam blocker and Mail was saving the address of every spammer who ever sent me mail.

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Display previous recipient information
Authored by: jordan314 on Oct 26, '05 04:05:12PM

Is there any way to recover previous recipients?
After a recent reboot I had a lot of settings disappear, including my previous recipients.
In ~/library/Application Support/AddressBook I see an and an Both are about 25K. When I replace with my contacts still don't show up and it creates a new .previous file. Any help would be appreciated.

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