Help Desk

Computing & Information Services

E-mail Address Auto-completion

This page answers common questions about how "e-mail address auto-completion" works for e-mail addresses at Reed. The following questions are addressed below (click on the question to see the answer, or scroll down to browse all the answers):

What is e-mail address auto-completion?

When using any mail client, you may notice that when you compose a message and you start to type the recipient's e-mail address, the client suggests the full name of the person, and/or their full e-mail address. This is e-mail address auto-completion at work- the client recognizes the first few characters that you input, and finds matches in its large address book to suggest you use to save you the trouble of typing anymore!

What does e-mail address auto-completion look like?

It looks a little different depending on how you write your mail, so here are two examples in picture form; Gmail is on the top, and Thunderbird on the bottom. Note: As you may notice, the sorting is not always the same! (ie. Thunderbird lists every e-mail address with any resemblance to "ben").

Gmail            Thunderbird

Where do these auto-completed e-mail addresses come from?

At Reed, we have a large address book database of all the full names and e-mail addresses of students, faculty, and staff who attend/work at Reed. They are stored on something called the "LDAP" directory, which e-mail clients like Gmail and Thunderbird are told to look at to find names of people who you're most likely to write e-mails to. If you want your Thunderbird application on your personal machine to connect to this database of names/e-mails, click here for instructions. In addition to the LDAP server, your local address book is also used to auto-complete names; you can either input names into the address book manually, or your mail client may collect addresses automatically depending on who you write to or receive mail from.

Does it always work? Could I mistakenly choose the wrong address?

Be careful! Sometimes the first name the client suggests is not the e-mail address you're looking for. Here are some ways in which it can go wrong:

  • Here's one example: there are two "Taylor Smith"s in Reed's LDAP directory; one is a staff member, and the other is a student. Use the Campus Directory to confirm that the e-mail address you choose of the two Taylors is the right person you're trying to send a message to.
  • Sometimes, e-mail addresses are automatically collected by mail clients. You should regularly check your Address Book (Window -> Address Book in Thunderbird, or your Contacts application on a Mac using Apple Mail) for addresses you do not wish the computer to remember.

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