You receive a "This distribution list has reached the maximum size for your network e-mail server" error message when you try to add many items to a contact distribution list in Outlook

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Article ID: 238569 - View products that this article applies to.
For Outlook 2000 only:

Note The procedures in this article only apply if you have installed Outlook with the Corporate or Workgroup option. With this option, you can use Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) services. To determine your installation type, click About Microsoft Outlook, on the Help menu. If you have the Corporate or Workgroup installation, you see "Corporate or Workgroup".
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Symptoms

When you try to add many items to a contact distribution list in Microsoft Outlook, you receive one of the following error messages:
  • This distribution list has reached the maximum size for your network e-mail server.
  • This distribution list has reached the maximum size for your network e-mail server. Only the first number of total_number members have been added.
  • This distribution list has reached the maximum size for your network e-mail server. No new members could be added.

Cause

This is a limitation of distribution lists that are created and stored in a Microsoft Exchange Server mailbox store or in a personal folders (.pst) file. There is no definite limit to the number of contacts that you can add to a distribution list. The exact limit is based on the total file size of the contacts.

If you use only the very basic information for contacts, your distribution list limit may be as many as 125 contacts to 130 contacts. For example, the information for the contacts in a list of this size may include only the name and the e-mail address for each contact. You can create very large distribution lists that contain over a 1,000 contacts. However, these very large lists may not function as expected in Outlook.

For best results, the typical number of contacts that you should add to a distribution list is between 50 contacts and 70 contacts. However, if the contacts contain lots of information, the distribution list limit should be as small as 25 contacts.

Additionally, the distribution list limit is based on the property size limit of the computer that is running Exchange Server. The property size limit for an Exchange server is about 8 kilobytes (KB). The Exchange server stores all contact links in one property store. Therefore, the distribution list limit also depends on the average length of the contact's name and the average size of the entry ID. The size of the entry ID depends on the type of e-mail address and the length of the message.

Resolution

Outlook 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2) and later

This problem was first resolved in 2007 Microsoft Office suite Service Pack 2. For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: 
949585 How to obtain the latest service pack for the 2007 Office suite
After you install Outlook 2007 Service Pack 2, you receive the following prompt when you attempt to create a Distribution List with a large membership:

Are you sure you want to add <number> members to the Distribution List?
If you click Yes to this prompt you receive the following prompt:

This distribution list contains more members than supported when using Outlook 2007 Service Pack 1 or earlier. Do you want to save changes to the distribution list?
Note This second prompt contains a check box labeled Please do not show me this dialog again. If you click OK to this second prompt your distribution list is saved with its current membership.

Note This same behavior applies to Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013.

Outlook 2007 SP1 or earlier

To work around this issue in Outlook 2007 SP1 and earlier, you must create multiple distribution lists. Each distribution list should have no more than the maximum number of contacts, as described in the "Cause" section. To create multiple distribution lists, follow these steps:
  1. In the Contacts folder in Outlook, open the large distribution list.
  2. On the File menu, click Save As.
  3. Type distribution_list_name Copy, click Outlook Message Format (*.msg) in the Save as type list, and then click Save.

    Note This creates a backup copy of your original distribution list.
  4. Close the distribution list.
  5. Reopen the distribution list.
  6. In the Name box, type the following text at the end of the distribution list name:
    (start_firstname - end_firstname)
    In this example, start_firstname is placeholder text for the first name of the first contact in the new list. The placeholder text for the first name of the last contact in the new list is end_firstname. Select a range of contacts that has fewer than the maximum number of contacts.

    For example, the distribution list "Business contacts" contains 200 contacts. There are 70 contacts between David Jones and Tony Smith. Therefore, you rename the list to "Business contacts (David - Tony)."
  7. Select and then delete all the contacts that are not in the name range that you specified in the new list name.

    For example, if you rename the list to "Business contacts (David - Tony)," you then delete all the contacts that have first names that come before "David" alphabetically. Additionally, you delete all the contacts that have first names that come after "Tony" alphabetically.
  8. On the File menu, click Save As.
  9. Click Outlook Message Format (*.msg) in the Save as type list, and then click Save.
  10. On the File menu, click Close. When you are prompted to save changes to the list, click No.
  11. In Windows Explorer, open the folder to which you saved the modified distribution list, right-click the .msg file, and then click Copy.
  12. In the Contacts folder in Outlook, click Edit, and then click Paste. This creates a new distribution list that uses the new name that you specified in step 6.
  13. Repeat steps 5 through 12 for each group of contacts that you want to separate into an individual distribution list.

Properties

Article ID: 238569 - Last Review: April 25, 2014 - Revision: 9.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003
  • Microsoft Outlook 2002 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Outlook 2000 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Outlook 2010
  • Microsoft Outlook 2013
Keywords: 
kbexpertisebeginner kbcontacts kbprb KB238569

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