Last reviewed on November 7, 2014   —  No Comments

The most effective solution for sharing Outlook contacts and calendars in a live fashion is Microsoft Exchange Server. For organizations with fewer than 50 workstations, Microsoft Small Business Server which includes Windows Server and Exchange Server.

In addition to the tools listed below, also see:

Shared Address Book | Shared Calendar Folders | Other Sharing | Tips | Limitations | Problems | Tools | More Information

Shared Address Book

For a shared address book that people can update without the intervention of an administrator, you can use the File | New | Folder command in Outlook to create a public folder to hold Contact items and grant permissions as needed. Users can add this folder to their Outlook Address Book by checking a box on the properties for the folder. Users who work out of the office will want to add it to their Favorites folder and set it for offline use.

See also:

Sharing Calendar Folders

To share your own calendar with someone else, grant access with Tools | Options | Delegates or with the File | Properties dialog for the Calendar folder. If you don’t see the Delegates tab and you do have Exchange Server in the current profile, use Tools | Options | General | Add-in Manager to add the Dlgsetp.ecf add-on.

To set up a conference room or other resource for shared use, see Scheduling Resources for Microsoft Outlook.

Outlook 2002 is the first version of Outlook with a built-in function for viewing a combined calendar for a group of people (in the Calendar folder, Actions | View Group Schedules). Outlook 2003 is the first version that allows you to view multiple calendar folders — including those for other people or in Public Folders — in a side-by-side view. See Maintaining a Group Calendar in Outlook for ideas on how to accomplish either of these tasks with third-party tools and other techniques.

Other Sharing

To show the Contacts folder from another user’s mailbox in the Outlook Address Book, see Display Other User’s Contacts in Address Book.

If you want someone to be able to send as another user, without getting “On Behalf Of” as part of the sender name, or as a public folder you must grant the Send As permission to the actual sender’s Windows account using the Exchange Administrator program or Exchange System Manager. The sender then puts the other person’s name in the From field on the outgoing message. See:

If you also want the sent messages to be filed in the Sent Items folder of the other person, you can use the UniSent COM add-in for Outlook 2000 and 2002.

To allow access to a shared folder that isn’t one of the folders listed on the File | Open | Other User’s Folder dialog, the mailbox owner needs to grant Reviewer permission to the root of the mailbox, as well as appropriate permission on the folder. The user who needs access then goes into Tools | Services (or Tools | E-mail Accounts in Outlook 2002) , brings up the properties for the Exchange Server service, and on the Advanced tab, adds the mailbox. After that, the user will see in the folder list all those folders in the secondary mailbox to which he/she has access and can add any of those folders to the Outlook Bar.

If you’ve granted delegate access to someone in Outlook, when they access the mailbox with Outlook Web Access in Exchange 2000, they’ll be able to gain read-only access to the allowed folders by browsing to the URL (http://servername/exchange/username/calendar for example). However, they can’t make any changes unless they have Owner permission on the mailbox.

Also see:


All Exchange public folders can have e-mail addresses. If you don’t see an Add to Personal Address Book button on the folder’s properties dialog and it’s hidden in the GAL, ask your Exchange administrator. For Exchange Server 2000, use the Exchange System Manager to see or assign an address.

If you don’t want conflict notifications to go out when users save changes to the same item, you can change the folder so that the last saved changed always overwrites earlier changes. See XADM How to Disable Public Folder Conflict Message Notification.

Also see:


Automatic journaling can be turned on only for those Contacts in your mailbox folders, not for public folder Contacts.

Any journal item that you create and save with Save and Close is placed in your mailbox Journal folder. To save a journal item to a public folder Journal, you should use the File | Move command, rather than Save and Close, to place the journal item in the public folder. See Creating a Public Journal for Microsoft Outlook for more ideas in this issue.

Reminders do not fire for appointments, tasks, or flagged items in public folders. See Appointment Reminder Paging Script for a sample Exchange Server script for sending appointment reminders as e-mail messages.

Outlook/Exchange provide no locking mechanism for items and documents in public folders. In other words, there’s no way for one user to open an item/document for writing, then have others open it with read-only access.


Mailing a message to a public folder in Exchange 2000 (e.g. subscribing a public folder to a mailing list) causes the item to be stored as IPM.Post, not IPM.Note, which means you can’t reply to it. Earlier versions did not exhibit this behavior. Microsoft released a patch for Exchange 2000 and Exchange 2003. The patch is included in Exchange 2003 SP1 and should be used instead of other methods. See KB 817809 for links to the file and instructions on how to enable it.

Some public folders can slow down considerably because of views and read/unread tracking. See:

If you’re writing code in Outlook forms or add-ins, use Find and FindNext instead of Restrict if at all possible, since Exchange caches the Restrict queries.

Mailbox sharing issues:

Other known issues:


Advanced Folders Watch

Client-based notification tool for Outlook folders, including Exchange Server public folders. Now supports Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. Freeware.

GroupCalendar for Exchange

Basic functionality is synchronizing user calendars to public calendars and back. New features include: Admin users (managers) can push items to users directly from the group calendar overview and users can not change or remove those from their personal calendar. Team members can push team items to the personal calendar of everyone in their team so these will also display on mobile calendar devices. and more. Users can create new items for other users from the mobile device calendar.


Tool from the Exchange 2000 Resource Kit to change permissions and replication settings for a folder and its subfolders. Does not work with any version of Exchange after Exchange 2000 SP1.


Free tool from Microsoft for managing permissions on public and mailbox folders, including all the way down to the item level. Requires .NET Framework. For use with Exchange 2000 Server, Exchage Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2007.

Public Folder Update Notification

Sample script to send notifications when a new item has been posted to a public folder.

Public Folder Utility

View folder permissions and other properties. Export folder properties and permissions to a text file or relational database for analysis. Send customized messages to folder owners. Manage orphaned public folder client permissions.

PubNotify for MS Exchange 2000

Free Exchange store synchronous event sink to notify users when a new item is placed in an Exchange public folder. You'll need the Exchange Explorer utility from the Exchange SDK to register the sink.

RightFrom for Outlook

COM add-in for Outlook 2003/2007 that automatically fills in the correct From address when the user is responding to a message in another user's Exchange mailbox. (Use it with the UniSent add-in from the same site. UniSent keeps the outgoing messages in the Sent Items folder of the other users mailbox.) Version

To change an item's message class

Exchange Server script to change the message class of items arriving in a public folder to a custom form.

UniSent Add-in for Outlook

Outlook COM add-in for Exchange Server users who need to send mail from a second mailbox. The add-in ensures that messages sent with the second mailbox's From address or deleted from the second mailbox stay in the Sent Items or Deleted Items folder of the second mailbox. Version

More Information

Code samples:

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