How to View Shared Subfolders in an Exchange Mailbox

Last reviewed on June 20, 2013   —  27 comments

It’s easy to share the default folders in your Microsoft Exchange mailbox: just give your co-worker permission to the folder. They can view the contents using the File, Open, Other users folder command. Sharing subfolders requires a bit more effort as the subfolders are not accessible from the Open Other Users Folder dialog.

Administrators can use the tools listed below to change the permissions on many mailboxes or folders at once.

For more information about Exchange server permissions, see Managing Exchange Server Permissions

In order to share Outlook subfolders with another user, you need to give them the desired permission (at least Reviewer) to the folder and at least Folder visible permission to every folder above the shared subfolder.

Right click on the shared folder and choose Properties. Go to the permission tab and assign permission to the person you want to share with.

Every folder in the path above this folder needs to have at least Folder visible permission, up through the top level, where Outlook Today is.

Sharing the folder

Before a person can view one of your folders, they need permission. If they are a Delegate to your mailbox (Tools, Options, Delegates) they may have permission to some or all of your mailbox folders. If so, the delegate just needs to open your mailbox as a secondary mailbox in their profile.

  1. Right click on the folder you wish to share.
  2. Choose Properties, select the Permissions tab.
  3. If Default has Reviewer permission you won’t need to add individual names to the list unless they need more permissions than the Default account has.
  4. Click Add and select the names you want to share with from the Global Address List.
  5. Give them at least Reviewer permission so they have Folder visible permission.
  6. Click OK to close the dialog.

Repeat for each folder you wish to share.

If the person already has delegate access you won’t need to do anything more. If they do not have any access to your mailbox, you need to give them Folder visible permission to the mailbox.

  1. Right click on the mailbox root. This is the folder you click on to display Outlook Today.
  2. The Default account typically has no permission to the entire mailbox. You can either give the Default account Folder visible permission or click Add and select your co-worker’s name from the GAL.
  3. Check the Folder visible box only. The permission level remains set to None.
  4. Click Ok to exit the dialog.

Opening the shared folder

Once the folder permissions are set, the person who the folders are shared with needs to add the mailbox to their profile, as a secondary mailbox.

  1. Go to Tools, Account Settings. (File, Account Settings in Outlook 2010 or 2013.)
  2. Select your Exchange account and click Change (or double click)
  3. Click More Settings
  4. On the Advanced Tab, click Add
  5. Type all or part of the name of the mailbox that was shared with you. Select the correct name if presented with a list of names.
  6. Click Ok and work your way out of the dialogs and return to Outlook.

The mailbox you added is now in your folder list and the calendars you have permission to view will be listed in the Calendar pane. Any other folders that this user was given permissions to access will be visible in the folder list or appropriate modules.

Video Tutorial: Configure Permissions to Share Subfolders

The first part of the video shows how to set the permissions on the mailbox in Outlook 2010. The method is the same in all versions, however, the Account Settings dialog is on the Tools menu in Outlook 2007 and older and the account dialogs vary.

A video tutorial recorded in Outlook 2007 on Windows XP is here: Share Exchange Mailbox subfolders in Outlook 2007

The View in Outlook

frank's mailbox

This screenshot is from the folder above the shared subfolder. It has Folder Visible
permission. This is what the folder owner sees >

With folder visible permission, the user can see the folders in the folder path but they cannot see the contents of the folders.

mary's mailbox

This is what the person with Folder Visible permission sees when they open the shared folder to their profile. As you can see, they can see the folder but not the folder contents. >



Use U-BTech's ADDelegates to manage recipient and mailbox folder permissions. Delegate control, including the "Deliver meeting requests" setting, outlook folder permissions, Free/Busy options for controlling the time, subject and location details are now at your Active Directory MMC.

Delegate Message Mover

Tired of having to manually move Sent-As messages from a delegate's Sent Items folder to the Sent Items folder of the mailbox given as the sender? Delegate Message Mover for Outlook automatically moves Sent-As messages to the Sent Items folder of the mailbox given as the sender.

Folder Permissions Manager

Symprex Folder Permissions Manager allows administrators to centrally manage all permissions on mailbox folders and public folders on Exchange 5.5, 2000 and 2003. Folder permissions can be listed and changed manually, or using templates with permissions settings created using the built-in wizard. Permissions can be applied to any number of mailboxes and folders at the click of a button.


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.


Allows you to set default permissions on individual folders within mailboxes throughout your organization or on groups of mailboxes. Free.

More Information

Access Folders in Other Users Mailboxes

If a person has delegate rights they can see all folders shared via the Deletes tab (Tools, Options menu) and they will not be listed on the Permissions tab of the folder properties.

Managing Exchange Server Permissions

About Diane Poremsky

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlook forums by

27 responses to “How to View Shared Subfolders in an Exchange Mailbox”

  1. Laura

    Diane, I have a user who is a delegate and shares email and calendar with her administrator. She (delegate) is using Office 365 Outlook 2010 on a windows machine and her boss is using a mac and other ios devices running ical and office 2011. When she or other admins try to search his email or add meetings to his calendar their Oulook crashes and sometimes their machine. This was happening before the migration to O365. Any suggestions we rebuilt profiles and do not know where else to turn. Thank you!

    1. Diane Poremsky

      What are you using for antivirus? I'll look into it.

  2. Marshy

    I want open a mailbox of a person that has left on my mailbox and i want to be able to view all the folders without having to grant access to each subfolder is there a easier way to do this. I have access to the mailbox of the person who has left but i want to be able to view that mailbox in my outlook. We have an exchange server and we use 2007

    1. Diane Poremsky

      If you use Outloko 2010 or 2013 you have two options: reset the password on the former employees account and open it in your profile as a second email account. you should also be able to open it as a secondary email account (More Settings, Advacned, Add account) - but you may not see all folders due to permissions.

  3. Mary

    I am a delegate with the administrator and I have all file permissions granted to me. It was working properly. I could move emails out of his inbox into folders I created and he could see them and access them on his outlook exchange. He recently decided to rearrange the order of the files. Now I can only see some of the files. One set I can see the subfolders and others I can not. More than half of the files are missing from my outlook, however if you check the sharing permissions it states I have full access to it, but it is just not showing up on my outlook. This files are very important for the work I do and I need to be able to see them and use them. How can we fix this problem?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Do you have at least view permission on every folder in the path. eg, to see a subfolder under the inbox you need view permission on the inbox.

  4. Mary

    Yes. I am an owner on all folders.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Try removing your ost file and letting outlook recreate it. If they are subfolder, clearing the offline files from the parent folder should work too.

  5. William Talcott

    Diane, Thank you for this tutorial. It will be quite helpful.

  6. Vince

    I have a folder with at least 20 sub-folders and each of those has sub-folders too. As far as I can see for each and every user that I want to share those folders with I have to grant permission to every sub-folder. Is there no switch that can be set withing a folder hierarchy to allow access to all sub-folders? Otherwise this is going to be a very tedious exercise with high maintenance as every time I create a new sub-folder I will have to remember to grant shared access to it.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      The administrator can give permissions using a tool on the server side, but the only option for users is to assign permissions to the folders. Permissions are inherited on new folders but not propagated to existing folders.

  7. Jorie G.

    This was most helpful! I've been looking for an answer to this for the past half hour - I would have never figured out how to do that on my own. Thank you!

  8. Marty

    A colleague has created a secondary calendar and given me reviewer permissions (in Outlook 2003). If I add her account to my Outlook 2010, I can only see her default calendar. Then she gave me permission on her inbox and the secondary calendar appeared! She took away my permission to view herinbox and the secondary calendar stayed. Perfect, except we need to do this with many other people. In order to describe the steps, I deleted her account from mine, re-added it, and I can't see the secondary calendar anymore. Any idea why it's doing this?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Secondary calendars are hard to share because, as you've discovered, they are not as simple to share as the default calendar. you need view folder permissions on all parent folders in the path above it. The secondary calendar was cached in your mailbox when you removed permission. It can take a bit for the permissions to propagate. There is a utility that can mass-assign permissions (PFPublicfolder or the newer version, depending on your version of Exchange), but users will need to open the mailbox in their profile themselves.

  9. Elizabeth

    I have shared certain sub-folders with 2 of my assistants to help manage my email flow. This has worked very successfully for the past 3 years. However, recently I asked one of them why specific emails had not been handled, and they informed me that they could not see them when viewing the folder from their computer. I looked at their screen and sure enough the emails (3 out of about 150) do not appear in their view of my subfolder but the other 147 do. Why can I see them, 1 assistant can see them, but the other who needs to see them is unable? A better question, how do I resolve it?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Do the missing mails show up if the person selects the folder and clicks the Update folder button?

      Is the person caching shared folders? Not caching the folder should fix it, but you can try clearing offline items and letting outlook resync. On that person's computer, right click on the shared folder and choose Properties then click the Clear offline items button.

  10. The Two Minute Tour

    I just signed up with Office365. I have shared folders in the above manner, but the person I'm trying to share with can't see any of it. Shared Calendars, Shared Contacts, Shared Notes, Shared Tasks.

    All I want to do is to have a folder in each of those categories and once posted, he will see the same info.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      He needs to open your mailbox as a secondary mailbox in his profile to see folders that are not the default Outlook folders. If you share your default folders (Calendar, Contacts, Notes etc), he can open them using File, Open, Other user's folders.

  11. Rachel Cahill

    Good morning, I am using Office 2013 and I want to block a specific person from viewing my calendar (not just the events just even when I am busy/not busy) is this possible?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Assuming you are using Exchange server, right click on your calendar folder in Outlook and choose Properties. On the Permissions tab, select the person from the Global Address List and set their permissions to None.

  12. james

    Hi, Is there a way of resetting subfolders permissions back to default, anonymous? If there is there a way of doing this to all subfolders? Thanks in advance.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      You can do it one folder at a time, the administrator can do all folders. To quickly block a person from all folders, you can remove Folder Visible from the root folder of the mailbox, but there is no quick way to give someone permission, except by making them a delegate.

      The default permission level for Anonymous and Default are None - so you could remove Folder Visible permissions for both on the mailbox root. This would block anyone from opening the mailbox in their profile and seeing non-default folders. To block access to default folders (inbox, calendar, contacts, tasks) which can be opened using File, Open, Other User's Folder, you need to change the permissions on those folders.

  13. çitil

    Hi Diane. First, thanks for sharing this information :)
    we use exchange server 2010 and outlook 2013.
    I am sharing my some folders and also my inbox with my friend giving these permissions.
    But when he adds my inbox to his account he gets error.
    the error is this: Cannot display the folder. Microsoft Outlook cannot access the specified folder location. The operation failed. An object cannot be found

    Where are we making a mistake? Is there sth to do in the server also..

  14. DanC

    This is great info, thank you! It works as expected with the default Exchange account within a profile. However, if you have an Outlook profile with multiple Exchange accounts, it appears that you can only access folders shared with the default exchange account. Does anyone have experience with this? Is there any way to leverage a non-default Exchange account's folder sharing privileges, without putting it in a separate profile or changing it to be the profile's default account?

    1. DanC

      Diane- I came across the behavior in 2013, but I imagine 2010 is the same. Since posting, I found an article detailing the behavior:
      It looks like there isn't much you can do. Thankfully, this shouldn't affect very many people...

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