How-To Send Outlook 2010 Contact and Distribution Groups Through Email

Here’s how to email Contact Groups or Distribution Lists as email attachments from Outlook 2010.

If you use Outlook a lot for work or otherwise, you’ve doubtlessly organized your contacts into groups or mailing lists. What though if you need to transfer this list to another computer, or send it to a colleague? For Office 2010, Microsoft included a quick method for doing just that.

How to Email Contact Groups or Distribution Lists as Email Attachments from Outlook 2010

Step 1

In Outlook 2010, compose a new E-mail.

compose new outlook 2010 email

Step 2

In the new e-mail, click Attach Item from the Message ribbon and select Outlook Item.

attach an outlook item to the email

Step 3

From the list under the Outlook Data File, click Contacts. In the bottom pane, a list of your contact groups will appear, and you can select the ones you would like to attach to the email.

select which contact group you would like to attach and click ok

That’s all there is to it! With this quick little tip, you can easily send your contact groups and mailing lists via Outlook without the hassle of importing or exporting them.



  1. Curtis

    September 22, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    We tried to do that at work, but for some reason the recipient just gets an empty folder with no names? Any ideas?

    • Kathy

      February 3, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      Curtis, we are having the same problem. Did you get any answers to your post?

  2. Chris

    February 23, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I have the same problem, I can send a contact group easily enough but the recipient cant save it? Emailing single contacts is fine, just no trigger to save a Contact Group.
    Help would be appreciated.

    • Christine

      August 26, 2011 at 7:43 am

      The recipient will just need to drag the contact group directly from the email and drop it directly onto the “Contacts” option in the left navigation menu.

      • Andy Old

        August 26, 2011 at 8:04 am

        Hi Christine. Have you seen my posts in this thread? Any ideas on why a blank dist list is recieved, under some circumstances? Have you or any friends seen this happen at all? Mucho thanks.

        • michelle

          August 31, 2011 at 8:59 am

          dragging the contacts is not working either. Anyone else?

          • nats

            September 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm

            I have the same problem, sending distribution group as email attachment, but it arrived as .msg, so i cannot drag it to the contacts.

          • Nae

            June 11, 2014 at 11:42 pm

            I dragged and dropped into my contacts and it worked perfectly. :) Very helpful

      • KMS

        March 18, 2013 at 11:56 am

        This worked – thank you!

      • Mark Marlowe

        March 18, 2013 at 11:07 pm

        This worked for me. Thank you Christine

      • Stacey

        November 12, 2013 at 9:14 am

        Thank you Christine!!! This worked like a charm.

        It’s very odd the SAVE & CLOSE won’t work. Instead you have to drag. Christine saves the day!!!

      • Joanne Mullen

        January 13, 2014 at 12:18 pm

        Thanks, Christine
        That was the missing piece of the puzzle. I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working. Now, our team of four all have the same Contact Group for internal messaging.
        Joanne Mullen

      • Chris

        January 22, 2014 at 3:08 pm

        Thank you very much Christine. It worked!

      • Julie

        April 9, 2014 at 12:15 pm

        Thank you so much for this help. I tried dragging and it worked. You have saved me hours of work of copying lists by hand.

      • Nerrilie

        June 3, 2014 at 8:25 pm

        I have tried dragging the message across to the Contacts on the left hand side but all I get is a contact for the person that sent me the group.

        Why is something that seems so simple, so hard?????

      • Iris

        September 29, 2015 at 2:40 am

        Worked perfectly, thank you!

  3. Judy

    March 8, 2011 at 7:59 am

    My issue too. I need to save a group that was shared with me, but can’t find a way. Help!


  4. Vicki

    March 15, 2011 at 7:14 am

    Is there a resolution for group and being able to share the group with another person?

    The person I send it to cannot make any changes to the group (read only file).


  5. Michelle

    March 16, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Did anyone find a resolution to this problem?

  6. julia

    March 21, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I saved a sent group by dragging the group from the email to contacts.

    • taube46

      January 15, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Awesome…why couldn’t the Outlook website have had such simple directions????

  7. Kelly Duhamel

    April 25, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Yes, I have the same problem. Do we have an answer to why groups cannot be successfully sent to another colleague with the same Outlook program?

  8. Aileen Parkinson

    April 28, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Oh very clever Julie! That works!!!
    With the reading pane open so that you can see the contact group as attachment in the received email as well as your contacts folder icon in bottom left of application, drag the contacts group from the email to contacts folder.


      March 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Hey, thanks, that dragging idea was a lifesaver. Had mailed several contact lists (distribution lists in outlook 2002) to myself to get them into the new computer.
      It worked like a gem thanks to you!!!!

  9. Kelly

    April 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Thanks for your reply, but we’ve tried that and it doesn’t seem to work.

  10. Lisa

    May 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I was able to drag the contacts group to my contacts folder…but can’t edit any of the contacts! How do I change someone’s email address in the group now? And can I import them all as individual contacts in my address book?

  11. Andy Old

    May 23, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Attaching/sending via drag/drop has always been available as far back as I can remember but now I have similar problem with reciept/save of attchment. When the proper attachment arrives, drag/drop is only way I know that works. At work (Win 7 Ent + Office 2010) the attchment arrives ok when sent from work; BUT at home (when sent from work) or at work (when sent from home – Home is Win 7 Home Prem + Office 2010) then I receive an attchment that is blank/empty. Need to resolve this asap as it is a real pain. Any progress/ideas yet?

  12. Andy Old

    May 23, 2011 at 4:37 am

    Could this be affected by Outlook emails account settings and/or email service provider settings?

  13. Andy Old

    May 23, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Furthermore, (this directed at grooveDexter, who posted original article) what other methods are there for saving a recieved Contact Group in one’s own Contacts, other than drag/drop? Save Attachments doesn’t appear to support this type of attachment. I have long wondered if there is any way other than drag/drop. More info would be most welcome. thanks.

  14. Andy Old

    May 23, 2011 at 8:42 am

    For reference, I’ve just tried this – Open a (good) Contact Group attachment recieved in an email via simple double click on it, select File Tab, hover over “Move item to a different folder” icon and click dropdown, then select “Copy to Folder…”, then browse to and select your Outlook Contacts folder as the destination. One point to note, this method adds this Contact Group, even if another of the same name already exists, and leaves the old one intact. You are then faced with manually identifying which is most accurate and up to date and removing the other. So, best to manually remove old versions before saving in the newly recieved version.

  15. Daniel

    January 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I am having the same issue. My guess is maybe there is something done when the file is actually sent.

    In other words in not an issue from the recipient side, but maybe an issue of how outlook handles the file when it is sent.

    I tried using Windows Live mail to send a contact group and they arrive to the recipient in a usable format.

    I’m still looking for an answer. I hope this helps maybe.


  16. Tim

    January 24, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    I have the same problem of a blank email when receiving the attached group. It is being sent from Outlook 2010 to Outlook 2007. Could that be the problem?

  17. Omar

    February 3, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I have a problem somewhat the same. I am able to attach the Distribution List within the email (but it is quite small for all the information stored – I have 51 contacts with all fields filled and photo attached) its size is 11 Kb (!!!??)

    When the email is received by the recipient he manages to drag-and-drop it on Contacts. The Distribution List is actually there, and it can be opened, but only the list, the data from each contact is missing (no wonder its size), and when it is double clicked on any contact, a window pops out saying that the Element is empty, do you wish to remove it?
    I am wondering if only the Sender link list is being sent here, the actual data is not.

    Therefore when sending the Distribution List to oneself, it works because one has the actual data, and pressing the “received” Distribution List may link to where the data is. The problem is when is received to some other who has no data at all.

    Do we need to send the “Distribution List” along with each Data Contact? Then the receiver would need to copy the whole thing to his/her Contact list in order to have both “Distribution List” and “Actual Contact Data”?… whaaaat a draaag!

    • charles ward

      June 21, 2012 at 9:57 am

      Omar — did you ever find a way to share each contact distinct from the list?

  18. Rhonda

    March 24, 2012 at 5:45 am

    I am having trouble emailing out to a group that I have created. It comes back to me stating that the email cannot be sent out due to possible spam abuse. What am I doing wrong?

  19. William

    March 30, 2012 at 7:02 am

    If when trying to email a contact group & its undeliverable because of possible spam, try inserting your contact group as a bcc: instead of in the main recipient window. Some companies’ email servers do not like a high volume of addresses in the main recipient field and will not allow it through.

  20. Greg

    August 25, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks for these tips. But when I try & e-mail the attachment it changes from a “contact group list” to a regular e-mail attachment that doesn’t work in Contacts

  21. Eileen

    October 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks. This worked. On my web based email I found that I had to leave the email window open and keep my “in box” up. I was then able to drag the contact group into the tab/bar for “Contacts” in the lower left hand corner.

  22. Javier O

    January 2, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Save the contact group to your desktop then attach it to an email and send it


  23. Javier O

    January 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    A better explanation on this is that outlook contact groups are objects that are shared in exchange server and only short links or programmatic shortcuts are sent so the only way to send them to an external recipient is to first create a duplicate of it by saving it to your computer like your desktop with the save us option on the contact group to be sent.
    once saved, find the msg file saved and right click on it and go to send to mail recipient and send it!
    you will see a different behavior on the recipients outlook when you try to open the item and a warning but it is because contains a copy of the exact item you wanted to send :)

    I know no one answered this or explained it so hope this helps to all of you.

    Javier O

    • Michael Walsh

      December 16, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Javier O, your solution works! Big thanks.

      Right clicking on the saved message file, then selecting SEND to “Mail recipient “include the links which the contact group needs.

      Nice going.


  24. Leslie F

    January 29, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I have tried all the methods suggested above and I can’t get any of them to work.

    Does anyone else have any ideas on how to email a Contact Group to someone else so they can save it in their Contact List.

    Thank you!!

  25. Melany

    July 14, 2014 at 8:52 am

    OMG! that was too easy! was fighting with trying to get a group contact emailed to me added to my contacts. Tried to save and all the other options. The Drag and Drop worked like a charm!
    Thanks so much!
    Saved me a world of work!

  26. Elaine Lennon

    November 27, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Hi, does anyone know how to do this with categories in Outlook 2007 rather than distribution lists or groups?

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