Using a Public Folder as a Mailbox

Using Public Folders as a Mailbox

In one of my previous articles I discussed how we can setup a mailbox that can be used by multiple users.  What we are going to talk about in this article is the process of using a Public Folder as a mailbox.

The best example of using a Public Folder as a mailbox would be for an email address of [email protected].  Any mail being addressed to [email protected] needs to be handled by your Customer Services department.

The first thing we need to do is create the Public Folder that is going to be used as the mailbox.

  1. In Outlook, expand Public Folder and then right click over “All Public Folder
  2. Select “New Folder” from the menu
  3. You will now be presented with the “Create New Folder” dialogue box.  Supply your folder with a suitable name (in our example we will call it Customer Support Mail).  Make sure that the “Folder Contains” is set to “Mail and Post Items”, click OK

Your newly created Custom Support Mail folder will now appear in the Public Folder tree.

In order for the Public Folder to receive email it is important to ensure that it is mail-enabled. To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. In “Exchange System Manager”, expand Folder and then expand Public Folders.  You will see your Customer Support Mail folder listed in the tree.

  2. Right click over “Customer Support Mail”, and select All Tasks, and then click on Mail Enable.  You will either be prompted to establish an email address or you will be informed the folder is already mail-enabled. (Note: if you are running an Exchange 2000 Native mode organization, Public Folders are automatically mail-enabled).

Once we have established that the folder is mail-enabled, we can move on with a few more administrative tasks. The first is ensuring the Public Folder has a suitable email address; the second is making sure that all the users are aware of when another user has read a message or replied to a messaging in the folder.

  1. Open the Properties for the Public Folder via “Exchange System Manager”, and select the Email Addresses tab.  Here you will see the SMTP address that was assigned to the folder.  This may not always be appropriate or you may want to add additional addresses to the folder.
  2. You can see from the picture above our Public Folder was given the email address of [email protected].  This is obviously a pretty long email address and not quite appropriate.  We want it to be [email protected].  Click on the existing SMTP address and click on the Edit button
  3. In the “Internet Address Properties” dialogue box, enter the email address that you would like to assign to this folder, and then click OK, click OK again.
  4. You can assign the folder multiple email addresses by clicking on the Add button on the “Email Addresses” tab.

The next part in making this folder work correctly is to ensure that the messages that are received by it are entered as Email Messages.  By default the folder will store its information using the Post format, and we really need to change this.

In order to change the format from Post to Email, Siegfried Weber an extremely talented individual and Microsoft Exchange MVP has already created a script for you to download.  You can obtain the ZIP file from this location; simply follow the instructions in AddScriptSink.

Now, because this folder is going to be used by multiple users, what we really need is for each user to know when one of the other users has read and/or responded to the e-mail in it.  Here are the steps to enable this:

  1. Open the Properties for the Public Folder using “Exchange System Manager”
  2. At the bottom of the General tab you will see a checkbox titled “Maintain per-user read and unread information for this folder”, clear the checkbox.

By default Public Folders are hidden from the Exchange Global Address list, and it would probably be better if this folder actually appear in the Global Address List, this way users could select it from the Global Address List and users in the Customer Support Department would also be able to use it in the From field when replying to a message, to unhide a Public Folder from the Global Address List:

  1. Open the Properties for the Public Folder using “Exchange System Manager”
  2. Go to the Exchange Advanced tab, and clear the checkbox “Hide from Exchange Address List

The last step you will need to perform is to make sure you have set the folder permissions appropriately for the users that need access it.  This can be done by opening the Properties for the folder in Outlook and clicking on the Permission tab.

I hope this article gets you started in the right direction and please feel free to email me your comments about this or other articles I have written.  You can email me at [email protected]

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