Implementing Custom Recipient Policies

Exchange Server 2003 uses Recipient Policies to give every E-Mail enabled object in Active Directory/Exchange an E-Mail address. After installing Exchange Server 2003 there is one Default Recipient Policy for the default E-Mail domain abstracted from the Active Directory Forest Name. If you create an Active Directory Forest called Nwtraders.msft the default E-Mail address and Recipient Policy for objects is [email protected], where xyz is a placeholder for the SMTP prefix. A user with the Exchange Alias Mgrote gets the E-Mail address [email protected]. In this article I will show you how you can modify the creating of E-Mail addresses.

RUS – Recipient Update Service

The Recipient Update Service (RUS) is responsible for creating and maintaining E-Mail Addresses in your Exchange Organization. The Recipient Update Service creates an Entry (Recipient Update Service (Enterprise Configuration)) for the entire Exchange Organization for modifying objects in the Configuration Container Partition in Active Directory and one RUS for every Exchange enabled Domain in this Forest. The Recipient Update Service runs automatically in the background but you can manually start the RUS process if you click Update Now in the corresponding RUS Policy. For more information about the Recipient Update Service, read the following article from Mark Fugatt. This article covers Exchange 2000 but most is also valid for Exchange Server 2003. For Troubleshooting the Recipient Update Service read this article.

Figure 1: RUS – “Update Now” and “Rebuild”

New Recipient Policy

After installing Exchange Server 2003 there is one Recipient Policy called Default Policy. The Default Policy contains Proxy addresses for the Default SMTP domain and one address for X.400. You can add additional Proxy addresses to the Default Policy or if you want to have Recipient Policies for different users, you must create one or more additional Recipient Policies.

For this article I created a new Recipient Policy called Cohovineyard Merger and the Filter rule filters all Active Directory objects that have the word Cohovineyard in the Company attribute of these users. With this filter it is very easy to create a custom Recipient Policy only for the Cohovineyard users.

Figure 2: New Recipient Policy

In the E-Mail Addresses (Policy) tab you can create the required SMTP addresses for the users. When you create the Policy you have the option to choose if the Exchange Organization is responsible for this e-mail domain or not. In most cases you must activate this checkbox.

If the new address should be the Default E-Mail address for these users you must set this address as Primary (Figure 3).

Figure 3: “Set as Primary”

After creating or modifying the Recipient Policy, Exchange asks you if you want to update all corresponding Recipient e-mail addresses that match the new address. Click Yes if you want to do that.

Figure 4: Stamp all corresponding recipient e-mail addresses

Maintenance tasks

You can change the Order of the Recipient Policies if you Click Move Up or Move Down.

Please note:
The highest priority Recipient Policy that applies to an Exchange Server object is the effective policy. Lower priority policies are no longer evaluated after a match has been made.

If you change a Recipient Policy you can click Apply this Policy now.

Figure 5: Change Priority Order

Removing old E-Mail addresses

If you want to remove old or unwanted E-Mail addresses, you must either remove the addresses manually in Active Directory Users and Computers or use an automated process. You can use LDIFDE as described in this KB article or tools like ADModify.NET.


ADModify.NET is a great tool to do changes in Active Directory Attributes in Bulk. It is a very handy tool that allows you to Add/Change/Delete modifications against Active Directory objects. ADModify.NET comes with a very easy GUI (Graphical User Interface) and is based, as the name implies, on the Microsoft .NET Framework.

Figure 6: Admodify.NET

One of the great Features of ADModify.NET is the option to do a Rollback of Operations that you have executed with ADModify.NET. This can be done because ADModify.NET logs all actions in an XML File.

To start working with ADModify.NET you must select the Domain and the Domain Controller to work with.

Than you can select which Object Type you want to modify.

After that, click the Button with the white arrow. ADModify.NET should now show the Active Directory Topology like the MMC Active Directory Users and Computers.

Figure 7: Select Recipients to change

Click on the specific OU or domain in which the accounts that you want to modify exist and click the Button Add To List. Now you will see the result in the right pane – select the objects and click Next.

Select the “E-Mail Addresses” tab and now you have the chance to Add/Modify/Remove the E-Mail addresses for all previously selected users.

Figure 8: Change E-Mail Addresses

Custom Variables

In the following example I will show you how to change the prefix of SMTP E-Mail addresses with the help of some variables. I have used a non existing E-Mail address because of the bots on the Internet that grab E-Mail addresses for sending SPAM.

We want to do some replacements for the user logon name “mgrote”:

Display name: Marc Grote
Surname: Grote
Given name: Marc

Replacement String

SMTP Address Generated

%[email protected]

[email protected]

%r._%[email protected]

[email protected]

%g.%[email protected]

[email protected]


[email protected]

%1g%[email protected]

[email protected]

%1g%[email protected]

[email protected]


In this article I tried to show you how to create additional Recipient Policies and how these Recipient Polices can be changed. I also tried to show you how it is possible to modify the Prefix of an SMTP E-Mail Address with the help of some variables. And I gave an overview above of ADModify.NET – a great tool to change or add attributes in Active Directory in Bulk. Please keep in mind that every change to the Recipient Policy stamps the whole Exchange Organization and if you add additional E-Mail addresses to your user objects, these new e-mail addresses won’t be removed if you remove the corresponding Entry in the Recipient Policy so you should play around with custom Recipient Policy only in a Test environment the first time you try it out, or you must remove the unwanted addresses with tools like ADModify.NET.

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