For many offices, the most frustrating experience related to Microsoft Outlook is finding out that, unless you are using Microsoft Exchange Server (including Outlook.com), 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. However, it is much easier now that Outlook.com us hosted on Office 365 Exchange servers.
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.
Beginning with Outlook 2007, users can share or publish calendars with Internet accounts. 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. See Share Calendars with Local Users using Internet Publishing to learn how to publish the calendar to your own WEBDAV server.
Microsoft is ended their free calendar publishing service at Office Online website in April 2014.
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 Outlook.com calendars to share your appointments with others. Outlook.com users can sync appointments and contacts with the web-based calendar and contacts when the account is configured as a Microsoft Exchange account.
When sharing a calendar using Outlook.com, share it using Outlook.com on the web. If the person you are sharing it with also uses Outlook.com, they should accept the sharing invitation using Outlook.com on the web.
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.
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.
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. 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
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.