Change default address list in OWA

In one of your previous tips, you mentioned how to set your private Contacts folder as the default when selecting the Address Book instead of showing the Global Address List first.

When I’m away from the office, I’m forced to use Outlook Web Access instead of being able to use Outlook.

Is there any way I can make this change in OWA as well?

Address Book buttonThis depends on the version of Exchange that you are connecting to.

While you can change the default in OWA 2003, sadly you cannot change the default address list, when bringing up the Address Book or by pressing the To, Cc or Bcc buttons, in OWA 2007, 2010 or 2013.

However, you can still change the default address list that is being used when OWA 2007 or 2010 is resolving names.

OWA on Exchange 2003

To have Outlook Web Access 2003 select your Contacts folder by default when opening the Address Book;

  1. Press the Options button in the bottom left corner.
  2. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the options screen.
  3. Set the “Check names first in:” option to Contacts.

OWA on Exchange 2007

To have Outlook Web Access 2007 try to resolve names via your Contacts folder first before trying the Global Address List (GAL);

  1. Press the Options button in the right top corner (left from your name and the logoff button).
  2. In the pane on the left click on “General Settings”.
  3. Set the “When resolving names, check first in:” option to Contacts.

OWA on Exchange 2010

Opening the Address Book in OWA 2010 will show the Global Address List first. While you can’t change this, you can switch the name resolution order which by default is set to your Contacts folder.

  1. Press the Options button in the right top corner (below your name) and choose: See All Options…
  2. In the pane on the left click on “Settings”.
  3. From the icons at the top, click on “General”.
  4. Set the “When resolving names, check first in:” option to Contacts.

OWA on Exchange 2013

When you use OWA 2013, then opening the Address Book will show “My Contacts” first. You can’t change this default, and it might not even be directly clear how to switch between Address Lists at all.

Setting a name resolution preference is also not possible in OWA 2013 and it will always try to resolve against your Contacts folder first before trying to resolve the name against the Global Address List.

Outlook on the Web 2016 and Office 365 Exchange Online

Similarly to OWA 2013, Outlook on the Web will default to your own Contacts folder and you can’t change this default. The discoverability of and method to switch between Address Lists hasn’t changed much either.

If you’d like to see this ability return in Outlook on the Web, you can vote for this feature suggestion on Outlook’s official UserVoice page: Change Default Address Book in OWA.

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