For many offices, the most frustrating experience related to Microsoft Outlook is finding out that, unless you are using Microsoft Exchange Server, there is no simple, built-in, reliable method for sharing contacts and calendars. That’s right, there’s no “magic wand” you can wave to enable people to easily share Outlook data without Exchange.
One reason that this goal of sharing is so elusive is that standalone users store data in Personal Folders .pst files. However, two people cannot work from the same Personal Folders .pst file at the same time, because these files are not designed for shared access. The same problem occurs if two people try to look at the same Personal Address Book. Of course, if two people share the same computer at different times of the day, they can share data; see Sharing Microsoft Outlook Info on One PC. A relatively recent development is the advent of a few products that can bypass the shared access limitations of PST files.
New in Outlook 2007, is calendar publishing. This feature allows you to email all or part of your calendar, or publish it to the Internet or any a WEBDAV server. Right click on the name of the calendar you wish to share to see these options. Microsoft is ending their free calendar publishing service at Office Online website in April 2014. See Share Calendars with Local Users using Internet Publishing to learn how to publish the calendar to your own WEBDAV server.
Some of the tools for synchronizing Outlook data via the Web also allow other people to access the information. You can use the Yahoo and MSN/Hotmail calendars to share your appointments with others. Hotmail Live users can use the Outlook Hotmail Connector to sync their appointments and contacts with the web-based calendar and contacts.
Many of the solutions listed on this page will allow you to share all Outlook data.
See More Tools and Utilities for Sharing Outlook Data for additional utilities.
For methods and third-party tools to share contacts, see Shared Address Books.
If you don’t have too many contacts to share, you can simply send vCard files. This is especially useful if not everyone is using Outlook, since many other products support the vCard standard.
Many users want to share their calendar with others, but Outlook’s calendar sharing feature is limited to Exchange server mailboxes, Outlook.com, or a read-only calendar published to a WebDAV server. If you don’t have Exchange server, your calendar sharing options are limited to publishing a read-only calendar, sharing calendars at Outlook.com, or using a utility to share calendars.
For a read-only calendar, see Publishing Microsoft Outlook Calendars on the Internet or an Intranet.
Please note: the Office Online (office.com) calendar publishing service will be ending in April 2014.
If you don’t have too many calendar items to share, you can simply send vCalendar or iCal files. This is especially useful if not everyone is using Outlook, since many other products support the vCalendar standard.
Third-party providers also offer solutions for integrated group scheduling. Many of the applications in the Tools list on this page will allow you to share calendars. See More Tools and Utilities for Sharing Outlook Data for tools that share calendar data only.
To share messages, but not contacts or appointments, you can use Microsoft Mail Shared Folders in a workgroup postoffice. Note, however, that the Microsoft Mail server is no longer supported and Outlook 2002 (and newer) is not officially supported. See Add MS Mail support to Outlook 2002 for an unsupported method.
Another alternative is an Internet mail server that uses the IMAP protocol. IMAP is supported by Outlook 2002 and by Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000 in Internet Mail Only mode. Oracle Collaboration Suite and CommuniGate Pro Groupware provide Outlook users with additional capabilities besides shared mailboxes, but there are many IMAP servers. Others especially targeting Outlook users include Bynari InsightServer and mDaemon GroupWare. Versions of Outlook without built-in IMAP support can get it with a third-party provider.
Microsoft designed Exchange Server specifically for sharing calendar, contact and other information, as well as e-mail. See Sharing with Exchange Server Public and Mailbox Folders.
One way for small organizations to share information without installing Exchange Server in-house is to buy space on a server shared with other companies. We’ve seen prices as low as $10/month per user. You need Internet access, of course, to get to the server. You should also be able to get browser-based access to your mail, as well as access from the Outlook client. Many firms are now offering individual or workgroup accounts on shared Exchange Servers. See Exchange ASP Info.
For calendar sharing, Outlook 2002, 2003, 2007 and Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000 in Internet Mail Only mode allow you to publish the free/busy times from your calendar to an Internet site so other people can know when you’re available. You’ll need to have permission to wrote to the site, others will need read permission. See:
- OL2002 How to Use the Internet Free-Busy Feature
- OL2000 Problem Publishing Calendar Free-and-Busy Information from Outlook — Hotfix available
Tools in the Spotlight
CodeTwo Outlook Sync allows you to synchronize Outlook between two PCs. Use it to share all Outlook items with your assistant, workmate, secretary or partner. You can also use it to backup Outlook files to another computer. It enables syncing calendars, contacts, tasks, email, documents and many more in a local network. The program is amazingly easy to install and configure. The free version is fully functional for 30 days. Once a trial period expires, it lets you sync Outlook default calendar and contacts forever! You can upgrade to full version whenever you want for just $59 for 2 machines.
CodeTwo Public Folders will let you share Outlook between many computers. It's an easy and cost-effective Exchange Server or Office 365 alternative which allows you to sync Microsoft Outlook data automatically and across various Outlook platforms and users. New features include: Internet sync (or LAN sync), all data is kept locally (no cloud storage). File sharing capability allows you to share any files between computers. Full encryption of the sync'd data and password protection. The program is fully compatible with all latest Outlook and Windows versions including Outlook 2010 64bit.
Share Microsoft Outlook calendar, contact, and task information with this affordable Exchange alternative. Makes Outlook calendar sharing and Outlook group calendar scheduling easy. Works with Microsoft Outlook 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2010. OfficeCalendar creates Outlook calendar share folders under each users main calendar folder along with a Outlook group calendar. Free trial is available.
Use PSTSync to perform Outlook synchronizations, helping you synchronize every Outlook folder, even custom created ones. PSTSync provides bi-directional folder synchronization as well as a number of other tools to help you manage your pst files with ease, PSTSync offers SmartMove and SmartCopy functionality as well as Encryption, Password Protection, Online Backup as well as the popular built in PST file viewer. It takes into consideration the time and date in calendar according to GMT (a PSTSync exclusive) Version 2.9
3StepShare is designed to facilitate the sharing of Outlook folders (calendar, contact, task and email) without the need for Exchange, server computers, monthly hosting fees, or a computer specialist to install and keep it running. See for yourself just how easy 3StepShare makes sharing Outlook calendars, contacts, tasks, and email with your colleagues and friends. Trial version available.
The Bynari Outlook Connector is a desktop plug-in for the email client, Outlook, allows email servers to provide the same features that Exchange server provides to Outlook. The Connector enables all the native groupware functions within Outlook(2003-2010).
Integrate Outlook and SharePoint: easily save emails and attachments to SharePoint through Send and File, drag-and-drop, and Outlook rules, or copy entire Outlook folders to SharePoint. Sync document libraries and folders to Colligo Contributor from the toolbar.
Now available for Windows Phone: USB sync. Sync Outlook Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, and Notes direct to Windows Phone. Choose from USB, Wi-Fi or DejaCloud sync for standalone Outlook, Lotus Notes, Sage ACT!, Palm Desktop, Salesforce CRM, and other contact management or CRM software. Works with CompanionLink desktop software.
Data Publisher add-in provides a means to bring your Outlook contents such as mails, appointments, tasks or contacts to SharePoint lists, where these can be shared with other users. This process can be performed manually, or automatically and is achieved without using any scripts or programming, with complete seamless experience to the users. In other words, Data Publisher extends your Microsoft Outlook to effectively act as a content provider for your enterprise SharePoint repository. It can be adapted to feed data to SharePoint lists for various purposes, such as for issue tracking, timesheets, projects or contact managements.
EZOutlookSync will keep 2 or more copies of MS Outlook always up-to-date. EZOutlookSync will transfer only changed data, making synchronizations real quick and unobtrusive. Works on Outlook 2000/2002/2003.
GroupOutlook from Amarillo Software allows you to share Outlook e-mail, calendars, contacts, tasks, notes and journals without Exchange Server. You can also synchronize links to contacts if you want. Using Group Calendar, you can view calendars side by side and have as many Group Calendars as you need. Public Folders allow you to share contacts as a centralized address book, calendars and e-mail. A 15-day free trial is available.
Share any Outlook folders with your team without Exchange Server. MAPILab Groupware Server provides real-time access to special shared folders in the Microsoft Outlook. From a user point of view, folders on MAPILab Groupware Server look and behave exactly the same as folders on Microsoft Exchange Server: the moment someone creates a new note in the folder, you will see it at your place. Version 1.5.3
HyperOffice is a web based Exchange alternative which lets you synch and share your Outlook mail, calendars, contacts, tasks and folders whether you have Exchange server or not. You and your team can access and share Outlook information from any web enabled device - Mac, PC or mobile phone. In addition, HyperOffice includes an entire range of integrated collaboration tools like document management, intranets/extranets, forum, chat, polls etc. Sign up for a free trial.
Store provider for Outlook that permits sharing of a Personal Folders .pst file on a local network among 2 to 50 users. Supports Outlook 97 or later. For Outlook 2003, supports the expanded Unicode .pst store. Available in Professional and Personal Edition Version 2.0.5
OLFolderSync can synchronize any Microsoft Outlook folder with anyone else's (except for Drafts, Outbox, Sent Items and Deleted Items). Synchronization of these folders runs as a background process facilitated by OLFolderSync synchronize messages. This allows you to easily synchronize Outlook folders via the Internet without the need for both parties to be online at the same time. Synchronization can be limited to specific Outlook categories.
Contact management tool for Outlook 2000 or later, storing information in an Access database. Tracks correspondence and other items, and shares that data with everyone in the organization. Can associate any contact with any company. Performs merges to Word and keeps a record of the documents created. Maintains a group calendar collating colleagues' appointments.
Use OsaSync to share or synchronize your Outlook contacts, calendar, and tasks with one or more other computers on your network. All changes made to a shared Outlook item are automatically reflected in the item on the other computer(s). Supports fully automatic synchronization--just connect your computer to the network or the internet (if synchronizing via FTP) and start Outlook. OsaSync is available in PRO (v. 6.3.1) and Lite (v. 8.2) versions and supports Outlook 2000 and later.
Plug2Sync creates safety copies of your most important files while avoiding duplicates. Instant and automatic File Backup helps to keep your files safe and always up to date. Use USB drive or memory cards to share and synchronize Microsoft Outlook between two or more computers. Use Plug2Sync synchronizer to mirror your file folders. If you want to sync documents on your PC at work and laptop at home, Plug2Sync is the best solution. Easy to use and user friendly interface.
Share Outlook data over a local network using a data store based on an Outlook .pst file. For Outlook 2003, supports the expanded Unicode .pst store. Not compatible with Outlook 98 or 2000 in Internet Mail Only mode. (Formerly Public Outlook)
Linux-based mail and collaboration server supports shared Outlook folders, direct booking of resources, free/busy data interoperable with Ximian Evolution, and address books. Includes connector for Outlook.
Web-based intranet collaboration application that includes synchronization of calendar and contact data with Outlook.
ShareO is the folder sharing add-in for Microsoft Outlook, allowing users to synchronize and share Outlook folders such as Public and Private email folders, calendar, tasks, notes and journal items. This is a time saving and cost-effective solution for sharing Microsoft Outlook between multiple users. Share Microsoft Outlook Public or Personal folders, Windows documents and files with your coworkers, family and friends. It is an easy and effective solution for remote companies and groups.
Softalk Share Server lets Outlook users natively share their Outlook folders amongst one another in much the same way that Exchange Server provides Outlook folder sharing. An administrator can control which other users have access to any of their folders (including calendars, contacts, tasks, notes, journals and email folders).
Team Contacts provides an easy way to co-ordinate contact information across the firm, so you can eliminate duplication, and ensure everyone has access to the most up to date synchronized information. Many people in an organization often deal with the same clients or contacts outside the firm, and each of those people often have the same information in their personal contact list. MS Exchange server is required.
Server-based Outlook collaboration solution for sharing Outlook folders on either a local network or over the Internet. Management tool allows administrator to create and grant permissions for public folders and monitor which users have what access to which folders. Server system requirements are minimal. Outlook 98 or later.
Zimbra is an open source server and client technology for enterprise messaging and collaboration. Zimbra is compatible with existing infrastructure and applications (both open source and proprietary). Zimbra is open source in order to leverage the collective talent of the greater community, and to ensure investment protection for Zimbra partners and end-users. Supports over-the-air sync for wireless devices.
If you need to share information with someone using the same PC (such as two users of a home computer), see Sharing Microsoft Outlook Info on One PC.
You can also use the Briefcase or Import/Export for a certain amount of sharing on a LAN. See Using the Briefcase to share Microsoft Outlook folders.
Other sharing tools can be found at Maintaining a Group Calendar in Outlook without Exchange and Live Group Calendar Tools.