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Create a company Shared Contacts folder in Office 365

5 Sep 2013 by Emma Robinson

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Many businesses require a shared contact list that is accessible by all users, for example a list of client email addresses and phone numbers. In this article we will create a Shared Contact list in an Office 365 tenant that will be accessible by all staff members with an Office 365 mailbox. This will be done using a public folder, which means it can be access from the Outlook application. Unfortunately public folders are not yet accessible from Mobile Devices or Outlook Web Access (OWA).

Creating a Public Folder Mailbox

You will need to create a Public Folder mailbox if you do not already have one. This is done in the Exchange Admin Center.

If you are using a Small Business Office 365 subscription, you can access the Exchange Admin Center using this workaround.
Now navigate to the Public Folders section on the left hand side to create your public folder mailbox.

Click the Plus button and create a new mailbox as shown.

Creating the Root Public Folder

Now that you have a Public Folder Mailbox it’s time to create the root public folder. This is also done in the Exchange Admin Center.
Click Public Folders at the top of the screen and click the plus button to create a new folder. We recommend you give the root folder a very generic name as shown below.

You now have to assign appropriate permissions to this root folder. We recommend that you allow Administrators to be an Owner of this folder and keep the rest as default. This will mean that normal users cannot create new public folders, it will have to be done by an administrator.
Firstly, click Manage under Folder Permissions.

Manage Public Folder Permissions

Then add all your administrators in and give them Owner permissions.

4. Assign yourself Owner Permissions

 

Public Folder Permissions

 

Creating the Shared Contacts Public Folder

Now your public folder environment is correctly configured and you can start creating the Contacts folder using Microsoft Outlook.


1. Open up Outlook and navigate to the folders list.

You should see the Public Folders section. If you do not see the public folders section check that you have assigned the correct permissions above. If you have only just created the public folder mailbox and root public folder it may take a few hours for the public folders to appear here.

2. Expand out your Public Folders and All Public Folders until you see the root public folder you create earlier.

View all folders in Outlook

View all folders in Outlook

3. Right Click on this root public folder and click New Folder to create a Shared Contact folder as pictured.

Create Shared Calendar Public Folder in Outlook

Create Shared Calendar Public Folder in Outlook

3. Right Click on the newly created folder and click Properties. You can now set permissions as to who will have access to view and modify the contacts.

Anonymous refers to users outside your company. We recommend setting these permissions to None.

Default refers to authenticated users within your company. We recommend setting these permissions to Author, which will allow them to create new contacts and edit their own.

The different permissions are as follows:

WITH THIS PERMISSION LEVEL (OR ROLE) YOU CAN
Owner Create, read, modify, and delete all items and files, and create subfolders. As the folder owner, you can change the permission levels others have for the folder. (Does not apply to delegates.)
Publishing Editor Create, read, modify, and delete all items and files, and create subfolders. (Does not apply to delegates.)
Editor Create, read, modify, and delete all items and files.
Publishing Author Create and read items and files, create subfolders, and modify and delete items and files you create. (Does not apply to delegates.)
Author Create and read items and files, and modify and delete items and files you create.
Contributor Create items and files only. The contents of the folder do not appear. (Does not apply to delegates.)
Reviewer Read items and files only.
Custom Perform activities defined by the folder owner. (Does not apply to delegates.)
None You have no permission. You can’t open the folder.
Set Default Contacts Permissions

Set Default Contacts Permissions

Adding the Contacts folder to Outlook

Each user will now need to add this contacts folder to their Outlook favorites which will allow them to see the contacts list in Outlook.

To add the folder to their favorites each user will need to do the following.

1. Open up Outlook and navigate to the folders list.

View Folders in Outlook

View Folders in Outlook

If they do not see the public folders section check that you have assigned the correct permissions above. If you have only just created the public folder mailbox and root public folder it may take a few hours for the public folders to appear here.

Add folder to Favorites in Outlook

Add folder to Favorites in Outlook

2. Expand out your Public Folders and All Public Folders until you see the contacts public folder you create earlier.
3. Right click the contacts folder and click Add to Favorites.

4. Now that the folder is in your Favorites, expand the Favorites Public Folder, and right click the Contacts folder you just added and click Properties.

5. Now click on the Outlook Address Book tab and tick the Show this folder as an email Address Book box and click OK.

Add folder to Address Book

Add folder to Address Book

This will allow the user to view the Shared Contacts in their address book list when they create a new email messages.

Select Shared Contacts

Select Shared Contacts

View Shared Contacts in Address Book

View Shared Contacts in Address Book

They will also be able to autocomplete email addresses found in the Shared Contact list.

Auto Complete Contacts

Auto Complete Contacts

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