Search for Help
< All Topics


This guide explains how to configure a SharedContacts folder that can be made to Microsoft Outlook users, using a public folder hierarchy. An explanation is provided of the drawbacks of other potential approaches, to justify why this mechanism (which is the recommended approach) was used.


Potential Approach #1: Using Speakeasy Shared Mailbox Contacts

Some Speakeasy users have access to the SpeakeasyOffice shared mailbox, which does have its own contact list. The advantage of this is that, if any user changes a contact’s details, all other users immediately have access to the amended details. All seems good. However, when a user attempts to compose an email, they can’t see the contacts in their address book – they can only send an email to that user by clicking on the contact in the SpeakeasyOffice contact list and clicking “Send Email”, so sending to multiple recipients would be awkward. This seems to be a major feature flaw with Outlook!!

Potential Approach #2: Using Contacts Configured via the Microsoft 365 Admin Centre

Contacts can be added by navigating to and add ing a single contact or clicking  “Add Multiple Contacts” – a spreadsheet template can be downloaded so that multiple contacts can be added to it and then this spreadsheet can be uploaded.

The advantage of this approach is that, unlike approach #1, contacts would be visible in the address book. Indeed, this approach is already used to automatically create contacts from the SharePoint lists of PWAs, carers, staff, SLTs and guests.

However, this requires an administrator to update contact details if any change. Whilst permissions could be granted to allow users to administer these contacts from Outlook, this would have an undesirable result: staff members would also being able to change PWAs, carers, staff, SLTs or guest details, which are populated from the Sharepoint data. Users should change such details via the contacts apps.

Potential Approach #3: Using Contacts Configured in a Public Folder

A shared contacts folder can be created as a child of a public folder. This approach has the following advantages:

  • Users can see the SharedContacts folder in the Address Book – the address book becomes visible when they click “To:” or “CC:” in a new email
  • These shared contacts are kept separate from the “All Contacts” , where PWAs, carers, staff, SLTs and guest details are stored using data from the Contacts apps.
  • Users can easily edit existing shared contacts and add new contacts. See the following article for details:How to Add a Shared Contact in Outlook 365

Therefore, approach #3 seems to offer the best approach. The following section describes how a SharedContacts folder was created for Speakeasy.


Create a Public Folder Mailbox

Before any public folders can be created, a public folder mailbox must first be created. Navigate to the public folder mailbox section of the Microsoft Exchange Admin Centre:

Click the “+” button to create a public folder mailbox. See the screenshot below:

Give the public folder mailbox a name. In this case “SpeakeasyPublicFolderMbx” was used. Click the “Save” button.

Create a Public Folder

Navigate to the public folder mailbox section of the Microsoft Exchange Admin Centre:

Click the “+” button to create a public folder . See the screen below:

Give the public folder a name. In this case “Speakeasy” was used. Click the “Save” button.

Create permissions on the root folder

(this may not be required) Click the ellipsis in the public folders screen and select the “Root permissions” option:

The following screen will appear:

Click the “+” sign to add new permissions. See the screen below:

Click the “Browse” button and select a user who will be the administrator (probably yourself). Assign the administrator “Publishing Editor” permissions and click the “Save” button.

Create permissions on the public folder

Having created a public folder, “Speakeasy” in our example, click the “Manage” button under “Folder permissions”, which can be seen towards the bottom right-hand side of the following screen:

The following screen appears when the “Manage” button is clicked:

As for root permissions, click the “+” button to assign permissions and assign the administrator “Publishing Editor” permissions. However, this time repeat the process for additional users, giving them “Publishing Editor” permissions if they are going to be allowed to add and edit items (which will be contacts), or just “Non Editing Author” permissions if they can add items but not delete or edit other people’s items. New staff members will need to be added to this list – this is already  in the document “TODO – link to onboarding staff”

Administering SharedContact Folder Permissions via Outlook

Note: the SharedContact folder permissions can be set for additional users via the public folder in Outlook, provided the user is an administrator. The public folder itself can’t be administered this way, but thaat shouldn’t matter if the folder is only used as a root for shared contacts.

Create a contacts list

Having configured a public folder mailbox, a public folder and assigned all folder permissions, log out of any Outlook session, then log back in. Click “Ctrl + 6” to see the Outlook folder view.  Navigate to the Public folder section. See the example below:

Right mouse-click on the “Speakeasy” public folder and select “New Folder”. The following screen will appear:

In the “Name” field, type a name for the folder. In the “Folder contains” box, select “Contact items”. See below:

Click “Ok” to save the changes. Now, the “SharedContacts” folder will appear under the “Speakeasy” folder:

Clicking on the “SharedContacts” folder yields a contact list. To test, add a contact (e.g. “Joe Bloggs” by clicking the “New Contact” button at the top left-hand side of the screen. Alternatively, drag and drop a user’s contact onto the “Speakeasy…SharedContacts” folder.

Accessing the Shared Contacts when composing an email

Compose an email in the normal way, then click on the “To” box to view the address book. Click on the “Address Book” dropdown list. See the screenshot below:

The “SharedContacts” folder should be available in the list of dropped down items. It can be seen in the above screenshot that the “Joe Bloggs” contact is listed.

If the folder does not appear, navigate to the public folder “All Public Folders…Speakeasy…SharedContacts”, then right mouse-click and select “Properties”. Navigate to the “Outlook Address Bool” tab and make sure that the “Show this folder as an email Address Book” option is checked. This needs to be done for every user of Outlook. See the screenshot below:

Now, if any user with public folder access permissions to the “Speakeasy” creates any contact, other users will be able to access that contact. Similarly, if anyone changes a contact’s details (e.g. modifies an email address or a phone number), that change is instantly available to all users who have access. This is far better than people sharing contacts via their local address book, as contacts can quickly become out of date.

TODO – add to new starter