When I enter the person's name in the To field, the auto-complete comes up, and lists the several email addresses that I have for this person. The first email address that it lists, is not the one that I want to email.

In the contact entry for this user, I have the email address I want to use as the top one. I believe this used to work in gmail, but doesn't anymore.

Is there a way to set the default email address for a person?

3 Answers 3


The email address in the first position of the contact's settings is used to decide which of your contact's pictures to display. He/she must have set it for public display in gmail's settings for this to work.

The email address that is shown on top for auto-complete is the most contacted address, as far as I know.

  • This seems to be the case for me. I went through some of my other contacts that have mutliple emails, and this is the case every time.
    – mlsteeves
    Oct 1, 2010 at 7:35
  • This does not seem to be the case always. I have several examples of a contact with more than one email address, and not having the first address pop-up as the first option for that person when sending an email.
    – Daniel
    Aug 15, 2013 at 17:15
  • @daniel - The answer above was for default setup. It gets changed over time as GMail tracks your interaction to set the order. Asssuming that its a fresh account without any email interaction and you create a contact with two email addresses OR create a fresh contact with two email addresses and you will see the order difference while composing the email. Aug 22, 2013 at 20:27
  • I do not understand this answer. When you say that the contact must have set it for public display, does that mean that I cannot change the default email for the contact, but it is in someone else's control? What if the two email addresses in a contact record belong to two separate Google accounts, which one will be default?
    – Flimm
    Jan 2, 2019 at 15:34
  • Hi Flimm, below scenario should help. Assume, you had my email address in a contact in your Gmail. It won't show the picture of mine unless I have associated one to my email inside Gmail settings, or you have had set a photo in the contact in your contact list. When it comes to seeing the photo I had set, I need to mark it for available for Public display so that it shows me. Also, if one contact entry in your address book has two email addresses, it will show the photo associated to the first email written in that contact entry. Jan 4, 2019 at 4:50

I had a contact with two email addresses:

  • x@gmail.com
  • y@company.com

And in my prediction list, it would choose y@company.com. I was able to change the default by removing the second email address and re-adding it.

  • 1
    I tried this, but it didn't work for me.
    – Sam King
    Jan 9, 2014 at 3:09

I GOT IT!! Copy the secondary email - hold it somewhere. Delete the PRIMARY or default one. SAVE it. You have to save it. Then edit again, and paste the secondary one in as a new email. It keeps the older one as primary. Save and quit.

  • Can you explain where the user has to do this? I don't see that/how it answers his/her question...
    – user55949
    Aug 20, 2019 at 19:21
  • Sure. The problem I was having was that when I referenced a contact, the DEFAULT email was always showing up - as in a group or something. I wanted the current DEFAULT to be a secondary email - not the primary one. I tried just deleting the current primary one, and then putting back as a NEW one at the bottom of the other one - which I thought should be the new primary or default one. But the minute I saved it - the old primary returned. The key is to SAVE the thing between the changes. Worked for me. OK? Aug 23, 2019 at 4:42
  • It does not work always. When I deleted the unwanted email, it was OK. But when I re-added it, it is again used as the primary one, even when it is the second. My guess is that it is because the person's secondary email is @gmail.com and Google favour it :( I tried it with another domain and there your solution worked. Jan 14, 2020 at 9:44
  • if this is the only solution, shoot me now... :( Mar 1, 2021 at 21:02
  • We are dealing with the same issue. We email a persons personal email for a month while we are hiring them. Then we hire them, give them a company email, and now when we need to schedule calendar events and send them emails, we basically have to type their full name and sill down arrow to choose the work email. This is very frustrating. I've tried changing the order of the emails on the contacts, but that doesn't work.
    – Mark Evans
    Jun 8, 2021 at 16:37

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