Share information with public folders

This feature requires you to use a Microsoft Exchange Server 2000, Exchange Server 2003, or Exchange Server 2007 account. Most home and personal accounts do not use Microsoft Exchange. For more information about Microsoft Exchange accounts and how to determine which version of Exchange your account connects to, see the links in the See Also section.

Public folders is a feature of Microsoft Exchange that provides a way to collect, organize, and share information with others in an organization. Typically, public folders are used by project teams or user groups to share information on a common area of interest. When you are connected to the server running Exchange, folders labeled "Public Folders" appear in the Microsoft Outlook  Folder List in the Navigation Pane. You can manage these folders from Outlook. Public folders can contain any type of Outlook folder item such as messages, appointments, contacts, tasks, journal entries, notes, forms, files, and postings. You can also add a shortcut to any public folder to the Favorites folder under Public Folders.

Things you can do with public folders include:

Post information on an electronic bulletin board

  • A bulletin board allows you to participate in online discussions. Each topic can be stored in its own folder with its own access permissions.

  • A bulletin board can be unmoderated, making it similar to an Internet newsgroup for which everyone has permission to read and post information.

  • A bulletin board can also be moderated by an assigned person who receives users' items and decides which ones to post.

  • You can work with posted information in the following ways:

    • Once the online discussion is started, you can post a reply in the public folder for the group to read.

    • If you don't want the entire group to read your reply, you can reply directly to the person who posted the information, or forward posted information to only the recipients you select.

    • To use a public folder as a bulletin board, the folder must be able to store e-mail messages.

Share Outlook items in a calendar, contact list, or task list

  • Share a calendar to keep track of meetings, events, holidays, vacation time, and project deadlines that affect the group.

  • Share a contact list to make names, job titles, addresses, and phone numbers available to the group.

  • Share a task list to keep track of each member's progress on a project the group is working on.

Share files

  • Open a file in a public folder to read or update the file or to quickly browse through a series of files.

  • Use Windows Explorer to copy an existing file from another program to a public folder without having to open the file's program.

  • Post a file to a public folder without exiting the program used to create the file. For example, you might want to post a quarterly sales report you just updated in a Microsoft Office Excel workbook so the group can quickly view the latest information.

If you want to share files that are frequently read or updated by others, you must have the program the file was saved in set up on your computer. When you copy a file from Windows Explorer or post a file from another Microsoft Office program that is open to a public folder, the original file remains where it is stored. Changes to the copied or posted file in the public folder don't affect the original file.

Determine folder access through permissions

  • Permissions to public folders are usually determined by an administrator or someone in your organization who owns a folder for a specific project or subject.

  • For the folders you have permission to access, you typically can read items and add items to the folder but you cannot delete items other than the ones you add.

  • If you have permission, you can set up your own public folders and give other people permission to use them.

  • If you own a public folder, you can apply your own custom views, forms, custom fields, and rules to your public folders. You might want to specify a specific view that appears when others first open the folder.

  • Even if you don't have permission to make changes in the folder, you can still save a personal view of a public folder that meets your needs. When you save a personal view of a public folder, that view is always available to you.

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