Neat OWA 2003 End-User Tips & Tricks

OWA 2003 Keyboard shortcuts

There’s a huge load of OWA 2003 keyboard shortcuts available in OWA 2003, you have to be one hell of a clever keyboard junkie in order to remember them all, but I have listed some of my favourite ones in below table:

Shortcut key(s)



Open the selected message/contact, appointment etc. depending on the current folder you’re in.


Open/create a new message, appointment, contact etc. depending on the current folder you’re in.


Reply to the selected message.


Mark selected message as unread


Mark the selected message as read.


Resolve the names in the address boxes (ALT+K can also be used)


“Reply all” to the selected message.


Forward the selected message.


Delete the selected message.


Permanently delete the selected message.


Check the spelling in a message.

Also be sure to checkout the Accessibility section of the OWA 2003 Help file (shown in figure 1.1) for information on any of the additional OWA 2003 keyboard shortcuts available.

Figure 1.1: OWA 2003 Online Help Manual

Improving the OWA 2003 Attachment feature

You might find the OWA 2003 attachment functionality a bit too awkward in its default state, but fear not, installing the S/MIME ActiveX component makes it behave almost like the attachment feature (explorer style) you know from the Outlook MAPI client. Another nice benefit of enabling S/MIME is you will have a lot more fonts available when typing new messages (actually all fonts installed locally on the workstation).

In order to install S/MIME you need to open the OWA 2003 Options page, here you drill down to E-mail Security where you click the Download button. You will be prompted with a few Security Warning boxes to which you should just click Yes. After a few seconds S/MIME will have been installed and you can now take benefit of the Explorer stylish Attachment feature and the additional fonts.

Figure 1.2: S/MIME under OWA 2003 Options

If you have deployed Windows XP SP2 in your organization you will most likely experience problems installing the S/MIME ActiveX component, read more in the The Outlook Web Access S/MIME control no longer functions section in below MS KB article for a solution:
883575 – Description of the known issues with using Outlook Web Access on a Windows XP SP2-based computer

And if you haven’t already done so you should as well apply below HotFix to your Exchange Server:
883543 – The S/MIME control does not load in OWA when you are running the Exchange Server 2003 OWA client on a Windows XP Service Pack 2-based computer

Opening multiple mailboxes through OWA simultaneously

I’ve heard many users requesting access to additional mailboxes through OWA just like they are used to when working in the Outlook MAPI client. But as you might know this isn’t supported, the closest you can get is to have two (or more) mailboxes opened simultaneously. If you have the proper permissions to access the additional mailboxes you can open them through OWA using your own username/password. I can imagine some of you are thinking – how can I do that when I’m immediately redirected to my personal mailbox when typing my username/password on the forms-based authentication page? That’s really no problem at all; you just have to specify the mailbox (and folder if you are only going to open e.g. the calendar in another user’s mailbox). Let me show you what I mean:

If you’re going to open the mailbox of another user using your own username/password, open IE and type:


If you‘re only going to open a particular folder (such as the Calendar as shown in figure 1.3) type:


Figure 1.3:
Opening the Calendar of an additional OWA mailbox directly through an URL

Recover shift-deleted (aka “hard deleted”) items through OWA 2003

As most of you are aware it’s possible to recover deleted items through OWA 2003 just like is the case in the Outlook MAPI client, but suppose one of your clever (or maybe not so clever!) users shift-deleted a mailbox item, what to do? Fear not even though there’s no option in the OWA interface when it comes to recover shift-deleted (aka “hard deleted”) mailbox items, this is possible by opening Internet Explorer and specifying the below URL:


So if you for chance needed to recover a “hard deleted” item from the inbox and your username was Bob, you would need to type:


Figure 1.4:
Recover hard deleted items through OWA 2003

In order to be able to recover “hard deleted” items you would need to have the DumpsterAlwaysOn set in the registry of the respective Outlook MAPI client(s). To read more about the DumpsterAlwaysOn registry value see MS KB article: 178630 XADM: How to Recover Items That Are Not First Transferred to the Deleted Items Folder.

That was all for this time, see you soon.

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