Unable to expand the Distribution List in Outlook? Try this

Radu Tyrsina
by Radu Tyrsina
CEO & Founder
Radu Tyrsina has been a Windows fan ever since he got his first PC, a Pentium III (a monster at that time). For most of the kids of his age, the Internet was an... Read more
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expand Distribution List

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Are you unable to expand the Distribution List in Outlook? Microsoft Outlook is supposed to offer one of the most convenient features that allow you to send messages through a handy contact list.

This is called Distribution Lists and you can always use a service like Google Groups to create such a list that will send out group emails regardless of what email client people are using.

Long story short, when you want to send an email to a handful of contacts, the Distribution List should step in and make the job easier for you. This clearly doesn’t happen when you type the first few letters of one of your distribution lists. The list gets inserted into the To: field, but trying to expand it fails.

You just encounter an error message stating that: Cannot perform the requested operation. The command selected is not valid for this recipient. There was an error while expanding the list. The list was not fully expanded.

How do you solve this? If you’re short on time, just take a look at the following Outlook troubleshooting methods.

How can I fix Outlook cannot perform the requested operation error?

1. Change the Distribution Group address and display name

Exchange admin center

  1. Go to Exchange admin center.
  2. Change the Distribution Group address & display name.
  3. Then, change it back after 5 minutes or so.

2. Rebuild Outlook email profile

Control Panel

  1. Go to Control Panel.
  2. Select Mail and click it.
  3. From the Mail setup, click on the Show Profiles button.
  4. Select it to manage the Outlook mail accounts.
  5. Select the Outlook profile you want to delete.
  6. Then, click on Remove.
  7. Confirm by clicking OK.
  8. Add a new Outlook Profile by selecting the Add button from the Mail window.
  9. Write a new profile name and click on OK.
  10. A new Add account window will be opened. You need to add name, email address, and password.
  11. Click on Next.
  12. The configuration process will start. Once the account is configured, click on Finish.
  13. Restart Outlook and select the new profile now.

Does trying another profile with the same contact group on the same PC work? If so, you could try to rebuild the user’s email profile after logging into the computer.

For many users, the distribution list expansion appeared to be functioning properly again after applying the above solution.

Outlook’s Distribution List is often giving you headaches? Check out this quick guide to easily fix corrupt Outlook distribution lists. 

3. Change the list to a Universal Distribution Group

Outlook Distribution List issue

If the issue persists, change the list to a Universal Distribution Group. You should then be able to expand the list and view the members within Outlook.

However, keep in mind that distribution groups can be used only to distribute messages, while security groups can be used for both messages distribution and access to resources.


The Distribution List feature takes away the hassle of copying and pasting emails, thus saving you time. Are you frequently unable to expand Distribution List in Outlook?

We’ve seen similar problems a few times in the past, but here we’ve tackled the issue for the benefit of users who don’t know what to do if this occurs.

Hopefully, one of these tips worked and you can once again expand Outlook’s Distribution Lists.


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