A mysterious stranger appears in Mail’s To field

Mail can fill in the blanks oddly from its Previous Recipients list.

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I was innocently checking the Mac 911 inbox and answering messages, when I noticed the To: field in Apple’s Mail app for OS X had changed. Instead of it showing mac911@macworld.com, an address I hadn’t put in my local Contacts list and given an associated name to, it showed the name of a recent correspondent. Let’s call her Amber Raptor.

So it appeared like: To: Amber Raptor via mac911@macworld.com. This was perplexing. Had Mail munged its settings? Had I clicked the wrong doodad and added Amber to my address book?

It does look like a bug, not an error on my part, as that person didn’t show up in my contacts list. However, I did find her in Previous Recipients, a list you can bring up from the Window menu. You may not know this list exists; colleague Jeffery Battersby explained how to manage the list last August. Previous Recipient helps in terms of filling out the names of correspondents, and also bypassing spam rule checking for someone you’ve emailed before (see Mail > Preferences > Junk Mail).

To get rid of a phantom Amber, if you have the same experience, follow these steps:

  1. Open Window > Previous Recipients.
  2. Search for the name that’s appearing, select it, and click Remove from List.
  3. Quit Mail and relaunch it.

Before I performed step 3, the mysterious Raptor was still showing up. For extra measure, I added the Mac 911 email address to the Address Book and gave it a name.

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