Sort Vista Contacts

Dear Computer Lady,

Many thanks for your help for so many of us. You are a national asset.

I have recently gotten a new computer with Vista. On my older computer, with Windows XP, I used Outlook Express and my contacts were listed alphabetically by last name. With Vista’s Windows mail my contacts are listed alphabetically by first names and I’ve been unable to list them by last name.

Is there a means of converting to a last name listing.

Thanks for your much appreciated help. John in Hertford, NC.


Dear John,

There are two ways you can have your contacts listed by last name. Let’s start with the way that works best with the program.

The contacts program in Vista sorts your contacts by the Full Name field. When you enter a new contact, the full name is automatically set up with the first name and then the last name.

You can easily change this setting when you open an individual contact by clicking the drop down arrow in the “Full Name” box and then clicking on the bottom option which will be the last name, a comma, and then the first name.

This is an easy enough solution, but you have to repeat this process for each contact in your list. If you have a lot of contacts, it will take you quite a while to do.

A second option is to add a column for last name to your contacts list, and then sort by that column. While this is easier to do if you have a lot of contacts, it is a little bit harder for the program since the individual contacts are sorted by the full name field and must re-sort themselves every time you view them.

Here is how to set this up.

1. Open your contacts and right click on a blank spot in the contacts window. A list of options will drop down, point to “Sort By” in that list and then click on the bottom option which says “More…”

2. A small window will open named, “Choose Details” Scroll down the list of details and click on the box in front of “Last Name” to select it.

3. With a check mark in front of “Last Name” click once on the words (Last Name) to highlight it, then click the “Move Up” button on the right until “Last Name” is at the top of the list of details.

4. Click “OK” in the Details window to save your changes.

5. Now that you are back in the Contacts window, you will see that the column on the left is labeled “Last Name”. Click on the heading for this column to sort it by the last name.


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