How to disable Gmail's automatic contact creation

Wondering who all those random contacts in your Gmail are? Learn how to stop them from being added.


Gmail is set up to create a new contact for each email you send. However, there are times when this can be more of a hassle than a handy tool. For instance, if you are replying to a lot of Craigslist ads for different pieces of furniture to put in your new apartment, your contacts list will likely get cluttered with nonsense email addresses. Luckily there is an easy way to toggle this feature. Here's how:

Access the Settings menu for Gmail. Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 1: Log in to Gmail and open the "Mail settings" menu at the top right (click on the gear icon).

Toggle the contact creation setting. Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 2: On the General tab, scroll down to "Create contacts for auto-complete." Choose whether you want Gmail to add contacts automatically (the default option), or will add them yourself.

Step 3: Press Save Changes at the bottom, and you're done.

Now you can send email to anyone without worrying that you'll have a ridiculous number of unassigned email addresses making a home in your contacts list. You can still find these addresses by checking the messages in your Sent mail area, so they're not too far out of reach should you need to find one of them again.

Editors' note, February 6, 2015: This How To post was originally published on July 5, 2011, and has been updated to include new information.

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