Using a public folder as a distribution list

Learn how to use an existing public folder full of contacts as a distribution list.

Is there a way to use an existing public folder full of contacts as a distribution list?


There is a way of achieving what you're trying to do, though you'll have to try it out to see if it meets your requirements:

First of all, you'll want a public folder that contains contact items to use for your tests. It doesn't matter where it is or how many contacts it contains, as long as you have permissions to access it.

Once this is set up, right click the public folder, select Properties -> Outlook Address Book and choose to display this folder as an Outlook Address Book.

Now, when you want to address messages to recipients in the public folder, all you need to do is create a new email message in Outlook, click 'To,' pick the correct Address Book and select from the addresses that appear.

For multiple addresses, either multi-select them all or create distribution lists in the public folder itself.

One final tip: If you want to send an email to some or all contacts in a given public folder, you can just multi-select the contacts in the public folder and drag them onto your Inbox. This will result in a blank new message addressed to these recipients.


I have adopted this approach to allow departments the ability to create their own distribution lists (DLs), thus keeping a lot of the meaningless DLs away from the Global Address List (GAL). This, in turn, allows us to keep the GAL for corporate entries only.

The public folder area can also contain external contact information and these external contacts can be placed into the DL.

Lastly, and a very nice feature, is the ability to expand the public folder distribution list, thus showing its entire membership in the To field; the sender can then select and remove entries if necessary.

Overall, this is a very useful technique -- if kept up to date and administered by PA type people (as ours are). They can be invaluable sources of contact information.

—Darren W.


We do this as well, but we haven't figured out how to add the Contact public folder to the My Contacts pane in Microsoft Outlook 2003. Do you know how to do this?
—Liz P.


Liz, I'm not aware of a way to do this.
—David Sengupta, Server Administration expert


I'd like to answer Liz P's question. She should add the public folder's Contact list as a Favorite folder which will then show up in her Contacts section under "Other Contacts."
—Jake G.

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