I have some old contacts in Lync that I couldn’t delete.

Ordinarily all you’d have to do is right-click the contact, click “Remove from Contacts List”, and click Yes to confirm.

But that’s not working for these two.

The contacts are Federated Contacts from another organization – one that was recently bought. The domain was taken offline. These contacts have been inactive for weeks.

Initially, I thought that was why I couldn’t delete the contacts. The lack of domain federation means Lync 2013 is having trouble understanding that the contacts actually exist!

However, my initial thought was wrong. I did figure out how to remove these old federated contacts…and here’s how.

Step 1: Cover the Basic Contact Management Moves

I tried the basic support methods:

No luck there. The contacts just kept smiling back at me.

Maybe I needed to circumvent Lync entirely, and delete the contacts out of Outlook instead?

Step 2: Look in Outlook

I looked in Outlook, under People/Lync Contacts. And I found not just one copy of these federated contacts–but dozens of them!

When I tried to delete any of them, I received this error message:
“You cannot make changes to the content of this read-only folder”

Research indicates that this is an infrequent bug in the Lync client. It generates a new Lync Contact every time that contact enters a conversation. (Make sure you apply Cumulative Updates when they come out, to avoid such bugs disrupting more important functions!)

So we at least know WHY I couldn’t delete a couple old federated contacts. But how do I get rid of them?

Some more searching found me this relevant blog post:  Fix for Excessive Duplicate Contacts – The EXPTA Blog
So the problem might be in Exchange, hmmm? Let’s go there.

Step 3: Use OWA to Fix Lync Contacts

I signed out of Lync, and closed Outlook. Then I logged into OWA, and located the Lync Contacts folder.

The EXPTA post says I should delete the whole Lync Contacts folder. But I couldn’t do that, either.

What I did discover, instead, was another way to get rid of the duplicate contacts. Here’s what you do.

  1. In OWA’s Lync Contacts list, click the Lync Contact you want to delete.
  2. Under “Linked contacts” on the right, click Manage.
  3. You should see a list of the contact’s duplicates. Click the first one.
  4. It will open. At the top you’ll see a button marked “unlink”.
  5. Click this button. Wait a second. OWA will return you to the previous window, with the list of duplicate contacts.
  6. Repeat Steps 3-5 until there are no more linked contacts under the original.
  7. These unlinked contact duplicates are moved into the main Lync Contacts list. From there, you can right-click each and click “Remove from Lync contacts.”
  8. Do the same with the original.

This is a tedious solution. But it does work – when I reopened Lync, the two contacts were long gone!

Now, there is likely a server-level solution for this. Temporarily changing the Exchange permissions level for a user, for one. But I didn’t want to mess around on the server for what I (initially) thought was a simple contacts error.

And by the time I realized it was more complex than that, I’d fixed it!

Have you encountered “stuck” contacts? How did you resolve them? Please comment or email me!

How to Remove Old Federated Contacts from Your Lync Contacts List

One thought on “How to Remove Old Federated Contacts from Your Lync Contacts List

  • October 24, 2017 at 6:43 am

    Great post! This works really well for users who have a termed employee, whose account has already been deleted, in their contact list. Even in Exchange 2016 this is still generally correct, with a few modifications:

    Use OWA to Fix Lync Contacts
    1. Sign out of Lync 2013/Skype for Business 2015
    2. Close Outlook
    3. Login to Outlook Web Access
    4. Select People from the upper-left hand icon of 9 white squares with a blue background
    5. Expand “Your Contacts”
    6. Go to Skype for Business Contacts
    7. Delete the unwanted contact
    8. Re-open Skype for Business. The contact should be gone!


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