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Configuring message rules for a shared mailbox

Other than my own mailbox, I’ve also got access to some additional shared mailboxes within our company.

We are using Exchange and I have been granted access to these mailboxes but when I create a message rule, to for instance move specific emails to another folder, it only seems to apply to messages that are address to me and not to the shared mailbox.

How can I set up a rule for a shared mailbox?

There is indeed no direct way to set up a rule for a shared mailbox when it only has been linked to your own Exchange mailbox account. However, there are several other ways to still get this to work.

Outlook Web App

Inbox Rules icon in OWA 2010The easiest way to go is probably to use Outlook Web App (OWA). You can ask your mail administrator for the URL if you don’t know it. In Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013, you may find the URL in the Info section when pressing on the File menu tab.

When you have been granted Full Access permissions, then you can log on with your own username and password and click on your own name in the top-right corner to get to the option of opening another mailbox.

If you haven’t been granted Full Access permissions but do have separate log on credentials for the additional mailbox, you can use that to log on.

Once logged in, you can create a message rule in the following way:

  • OWA 2013 and Office 365 for Business (Exchange Online)
    Gears icon (right side of your name)-> Options-> Organize email
  • OWA 2010
    Options (below your name)-> Create an Inbox Rule…
  • OWA 2007
    Options (left side of your name)-> Rules

Additional Exchange account

Add Exchange accountIf you are using Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013 and either have been granted Full Access permissions to the mailbox or have been provided separate credentials for it, then you can also configure this shared mailbox as an additional Exchange account rather than to add it as a secondary mailbox of your own.

To do this, click on the File tab and choose Add Account. When setting up the account, Auto Account Setup may recognize your main mailbox linked to your user account. When this happens, specify the email address of the shared mailbox or select the option to configure the Exchange account manually. Contact your mail administrator or look at the settings of your other account if you do not know the required server configuration settings.

Once the mailbox has been added, select its Inbox folder and add the rule as you would normally do for your own mailbox.

Separate mail profile

Mail applet in Control PanelIf you want to manage the rules for the shared mailbox in Outlook but are still using Outlook 2007 or previous, then you have to use the Mail applet in Control Panel to create an additional mail profile.

You’d then set up this mail profile with the shared mailbox as the main mail account rather then your own. This also requires you that you either have been granted Full Access permissions to this shared mailbox or have been provided credentials for it.

Just like the “Additional Exchange account” method above, Auto Account Setup might try to configure it automatically with your own mailbox. You’d then have to specify a different address or configure the account manually as well.

Warning! Managing rules via both OWA and Outlook

Try to avoid managing your rules via both OWA and Outlook. Depending on your version of OWA, adding or modifying your rules in OWA could result in the loss of rules which you created in Outlook.

This happens because OWA doesn’t support all the rule conditions which you can set in Outlook and then only saves or overwrites the conditions which it does support.

As some general rules of thumb:

  • If you want to use OWA to manage your rules, only use OWA.
  • When you’ve accessed your mailbox with a later version of Outlook, no longer use any previous version.
  • Create a backup of your configured rules so you can easily restore them. Especially with shared mailboxes, accidents do happen!

Warning! Make sure that the rule is a server based rule

When creating the rule, make sure you only use conditions which can be processed by the Exchange server. This will make sure that the rule can be executed when the mailbox has been added as a secondary account rather than as a separate Exchange account.

If you are using Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013 and have added the shared mailbox as an additional Exchange account, then you can have non-server-based rules as well (such as “Display a Desktop Alert”) but these of course won’t be executed when Outlook isn’t running.



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