If you’re an Office 365 customer, shared mailboxes in Exchange Online allow groups of your end users to manage a single mailbox for communicating with customers, partners, etc. In this article, I’ll show you how the shared mailboxes work and how to manage them in the Office 365 Admin Center.

Kyle Beckman

Kyle Beckman works as a systems administrator in Atlanta, GA supporting Office 365 in higher education. He has 17+ years of systems administration experience.

Shared mailboxes in Exchange allow multiple users to access the same mailbox—which is separate from their day-to-day personal mailbox and has a different email address, different display name, and completely separate folder structure—without having to keep up with a separate username and password. Users can be added/removed as necessary by IT, and the continuity of the email address and all mail it has already received is maintained without IT having to move mail between mailboxes or change an email alias so that it points to a different mailbox. And my favorite part—shared mailboxes don’t require a license in Office 365 unless you hit the 50 GB quota and need to pay for additional quota.

Access a shared mailbox in OWA ^

Users who have been added to a shared mailbox can access that shared mailbox two different ways in Outlook Web Access/webmail (OWA). First, users need to go to https://outlook.office365.com and log into their personal mailbox. Next, they’ll need to click their user picture and then Open another mailbox. When the Open another mailbox window opens, enter the name of the mailbox, or after entering a few characters, the user can click the Search Directory link to find the mailbox in the GAL. Once the mailbox information is populated, click the Open button.

Open another mailbox in Outlook Web Access

Open another mailbox in Outlook Web Access

Depending on the browser’s configuration, a new tab (or window) will open with the shared mailbox. Users assigned both FullAccess and SendAs rights can use the new webmail window just like their own, sending/receiving messages as the shared persona.

Shared mailbox in Outlook Web Access

Shared mailbox in Outlook Web Access

Users can eliminate the extra steps/clicking by using a custom URL. If you check the URL in the address bar after opening the shared mailbox, you can see that the URL adds the email address of the shared mailbox: https://outlook.office365.com/owa/addressofmailbox@contoso.com.

Access a shared mailbox in Outlook (thick client) ^

The primary way I recommend accessing a shared mailbox in the Outlook thick client is with automapping. Automapping adds the mailbox to the user’s Outlook automatically so that he or she doesn’t have to add it manually. Once the user is added to the mailbox, it just shows up automatically.

Shared mailbox in Outlook 2016

Shared mailbox in Outlook 2016

The instructions for manually adding a mailbox are convoluted and typically require the assistance of IT, in my experience. One warning: If you’re using the GUI to add users to a shared mailbox, automapping can be a bit of a wild card. During the writing of this article, my test Office 365 tenant didn’t automatically add automapping. However, I’ve seen it get added in the past. The only way to guarantee that it gets added is to add the mailbox permissions in PowerShell.

Create a shared mailbox ^

To create a shared mailbox in the Office 365 Admin Center, you’ll need to access the Exchange admin center. The fastest way without navigating the main Office 365 Admin Center is to go to https://outlook.office365.com/ecp.

Office 365 Exchange Admin Center

Office 365 Exchange Admin Center

Once you’re in the Exchange Admin Center, you’ll want to click on the shared link under the recipients heading. Once you’re in the recipients area, click the + [plus symbol] icon to create a new shared mailbox.

Create a new shared mailbox in the recipients area of the Exchange Admin Center

Create a new shared mailbox in the recipients area of the Exchange Admin Center

After clicking the + [plus symbol], the new shared mailbox window will open. In this window, you’ll need to enter the display name, email address, and users who will access the mailbox.

New shared mailbox window

New shared mailbox window

Once you’re done setting up the mailboxes and adding users, click the Save button to create the mailbox. After creating the mailbox, you can double-click on it in the list to edit its properties—change the display name, add additional addresses, add/remove users, etc.

In my next post I will show you how to manage shared mailboxes with PowerShell.

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