Outlook Autocomplete cache

Figure 1: An example of suggested email addresses in Outlook as you typeOutlook provides a cache of email addresses as you use them in new email messages. This cache, sometimes called a nickname cache, is intended to improve user productivity. As you type an address in an email address field, Outlook lists possible addresses matching the letters you’ve entered. (Source: WindowsITPro)

Historically, Outlook stores this cache in a local, profile-specific file with the extension .nk2. Outlook 2010 changes the location of the AutoComplete Cache. It’s no longer an .nk2 file but is now a hidden folder within an Exchange Mailbox or a .pst file, depending on the account type in Outlook. The principle is the same, of course; however, with the nickname cache in the mailbox, the content now travels with the user. When you recreate a user’s profile on another workstation, their nickname cache is unaffected. With Outlook 2003 or 2007, the nickname cache would be recreated as the user began sending new email messages.

Outlook 2010 also adds a folder to Contacts labeled Suggested Contacts. Addresses get added to this folder as you send or reply to messages addressed to recipients who don’t already exist in your address book (aka your Contacts folder). Over the years, Microsoft has fielded numerous requests for formal, supported access to the AutoComplete cache. Third-party companies even produced rudimentary .nk2 file editors. Suggested Contacts is a way for administrators and users to control AutoComplete cache contents directly through the Outlook interface.

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