Can I mail merge the name into the "To" box, with the email address?
February 27, 2010 11:00 AM   Subscribe

I am using mail merge to send multiple emails but can't get the person's name in the "To:" box (or field), so it arrives with just their email address in "To." I have to fix this or work all night! If I could just use mail merge to put the "Display As" field, from Contacts, into the "To" box, it would work. But, apparently, I can't do that. Or can I?

These are authorized, nice emails, hundreds I have to send today. I am using Word 2007 and Outlook Contacts 2007, and mail merge wizard. The wizard sends the email with only the recipient's email address in the "To" box, and that isn't personal enough.

Outlook Contacts has a "Display As" field, which I'd love to put in the "To" part of the email, but I can't get this to work in mail merge. ("Display As" combines the "Name" and "Email" fields, I guess.)

I have spent too long researching this as best I can, and all I can find is that "E-mail Displayed As" is an Outlook Contact field "not available in a Word mail merge." I found a company selling a "Mail Merge Toolkit" that I can download right now, but based on what is says it CAN do, it seems like it can't do what I need. It would take so much time to download and itstall it just to see it won't work..... Please don't recommend an email service.... That won't work right now.

I am pretty desperate for help
posted by swlabr to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you really think it matters whether the person's full name is in the To line? Almost nobody pays any attention to it.
posted by xil at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I receive emails in Outlook, my name is displayed no matter what the sender typed into the "to" field, because that's how my server is set up at work. I don't think that what you see in that box is necessarily what the recipient is going to see.
posted by something something at 11:18 AM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: 1) Yes, I really think it matters. This is a matter of taste and opinion. Not an issue here, thanks.

2) When I send without mail merge, the contact's name is in the "To" box of the email. This is because the "To" box contains whatever is set, in the "Display As" field of the Outlook contact that mail merge is using. BUT with mail merge, the "To" box will not use the "Display As" field, only the "email" field is available. My recients email is shown as being to "," rather than "Jane Doe" or "Jane Doe ." I need to have it show the name, which I guess would best be done by the merge using the "Display As" field from Contacts.
posted by swlabr at 11:34 AM on February 27, 2010

Response by poster: Microsoft help:

Up to 8 hours $259.00 Callback (schedule by using phone)
posted by swlabr at 11:47 AM on February 27, 2010

Response by poster: The html editting didn't show the display as option, but it is "Jane Doe" folllowed by a the address inside the "greater than" and "less than" symbols. That'd be fine. I just need to use mail merge to somehow send one at a time... with the name in the "To" field.
posted by swlabr at 11:53 AM on February 27, 2010

When you get to the last step in the wizard (Complete the Merge), click on the link that says Electronic Mail. From their you can put any field you want in the email address.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:53 PM on February 27, 2010

their there

Good grief!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:54 PM on February 27, 2010

I use the Mail Merge Toolkit at work, and it normally uses just the actual email address, not the display field. I dont' believe that it will allow you to do what you want.

Some thoughts:
- Can you personalize the actual email, so that it doesn't matter that the To: field is only the email address? For example, I often put the first and last name, along with their affiliation, at the top of emails (without a salutation), which makes it more personal than a normal mass email.

-Could you export your contacts to an Excel spreadsheet so that it shows the display name, then use the spreadsheet as the mail merge source instead? (I dont' know for sure that you can include the display field in the export. If not, you could try constructing a display-like field using the Concatenate formula in Excel, then placing that field in the mail merge To: )
posted by gemmy at 1:11 PM on February 27, 2010

I recommend what gemmy said. Export your contacts to Excel. Put the desired "To:" name in the A column, then put the corresponding email addresses in the B column.

In column C, your formula needs to be ="'"&A1&"'"&" <>""

The ouput in column C will read 'Name'
posted by yoyoceramic at 1:20 PM on February 27, 2010

oh shame.... metafilter zapped my code... that's what I get for neglecting the preview.
posted by yoyoceramic at 1:21 PM on February 27, 2010

Here is the code
posted by yoyoceramic at 1:23 PM on February 27, 2010

Export contacts into a CSV file

The CSV file should break down the info by column, according to first name, last name, email address, telephone number

Save the CSV file in a place where you can find it easily

Open Word, and choose Mail Merge

Use your CSV file as the source, and choose the addressees you want

Choose the data fields you want and construct your merge.


If this doesn't work, I think you're out of luck, unless you having some coding skills
posted by KokuRyu at 3:29 PM on February 27, 2010

I don't know anything about MS mail merging but the email RFC's I read (long ago). To: fields have two formats that will present a username.

To: User name


To: user@whatever (User name)

I'm not so sure the 2nd one is in common use and I might be misremembering it. But the first one is what you want.

posted by chairface at 11:06 PM on February 27, 2010

Dammit! Stupid formating. First should be:

To: User name <user@whatever>
posted by chairface at 11:06 PM on February 27, 2010

Best answer: Well, folks, I ended up sending them one at a time. But then the problem came up again, and all of these great suggestions made me try harder. I ended up contacting this internet media firm recommended by a friend and the guy there understood all I told him from the forum. Then, he went exploring and answered a question answered no where on the net yet, as far as I can tell.

The answer is that Outlook 2007, at least with the latest update, does have a series of commands that will do this. Using the Mail Merge functiong and Word, he was able to figure it out and test it in just a couple of hours. So, this weekend, I won't have to work all night, but can write all day, sleep well, and email all my contacts tomorrow in a personalized format.

I love askmetafilter, and my new consultant does too! I hope he signs up so he can chime in here like y'all did. Thanks!
posted by swlabr at 10:54 AM on March 6, 2010

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