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When a new user doesn't show up in the address list

Expert Patricia Guerrero helps an Exchange admin find a missing new user who isn't showing up in the address list.

I am running Exchange 2003 Standard Edition on Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition. All the data was migrated from one server to the new one, and everything is working well, including Active Directory.

However, when I create a new user, he does not show up in the address list and cannot be resolved by Outlook or logged into by Outlook Web Access. If someone logs into the system, that person can send mail to the new user, and the mailbox is working. But even as an administrator, I cannot get to this new user's mailbox -- even though I can view everyone else's. I have been through all the tips on Microsoft's Web site and I cannot figure it out. Any help would be very much appreciated.


Go to the user's mailbox and check the configuration to make sure it is not hidden. Once in the user's mailbox, look for the "Hidden" box under options and make sure it is unchecked. If it is hidden, go to View -> Hidden and you should be able to see the user's mailbox.


In addition to checking if the new mailbox is hidden, there may be one additional issue.

It can take Exchange up to 24 hours to update the Offline Address Book (OAB) on the Exchange server, and (up to) an additional 24 hours to update the OAB on the Outlook 2003 client (using Outlook in cached mode). This can total up to 48 hours (though it is unlikely).

Updating the Outlook 2003 cached copy can be forced by the doing the following:

  • On the Tools menu, point to Send/Receive, and then click Download Address Book.

  • Quit Outlook and then restart it. The Offline Address Book download will start one to five minutes later.

More information can be found at Microsoft's Web site.

I had the same question / issue a little while ago and that is where I found my solution.
—Bradford C.


This answer may not be entirely correct, if I'm reading the user's question properly.

When you create a new mail-enabled user in Active Directory, that user's mailbox object is not physically created by Exchange Server until the first time the user logs onto a workstation and creates an Exchange profile in Outlook. This cannot be done through Outlook Web Access (OWA) or Outlook Mobile Access (OMA) -- it must be initially accessed through a traditional Outlook client.

Once this is completed, the user is able to now log in to that account via OWA and the Exchange admin can use his / her Outlook's File -> Open -> Other User's Mailbox -> Inbox command to view the mailbox.

As for the new address not immediately showing up in the Global Address List (GAL), this is due to Exchange needing time to replicate the change, and workstations to get the updated copy of the GAL.

I believe by default the GAL refresh is (approximately) every 12 hours or so.

  • It is always best practice to create your users one day ahead of time to ensure the new addresses have replicated globally.
  • If your new user will be accessing e-mail via OWA only, then you will need to 'initiate' the Exchange mailbox object for that user in advance.
  • Jump on a workstation and create an Outlook profile for that user's account, let it build, close Outlook, and that's it. The user is now ready to go and log on to OWA or access via OMA.

We support quite a few remote users who only use OWA to access our company e-mail, and this is the prescribed method for setting up their user and e-mail accounts.

I have to admit, there is no information on this at Microsoft's site. I found this out the hard way.
—Kurt L.


You can see the mailbox in Exchange System Manager (ESM) after the first successful mailbox login or when the account receives its first e-mail.
—Patricia Guerrero, Clients and Mobility expert


I have the exact same issue -- the Global Address List (GAL) does not update the cached mode clients.

The Offline Address Book (OAB) files that get modified nightly (2 a.m.) with Active Directory delta changes do not appear to be reliable. Most of the time it seems to work as it should, but every once in a while it fails to add a new user to the GAL or the OAB. The net result: The clients download the OAB to their computers daily, but -- since no changes were make to the OAB -- the update never makes it to the cached mode copy on the laptop. When this occurs, my only recourse is to do a manual rebuild of the OAB and then redownload to the cached version.

In my experience, you do not have to log in to the network as that user, nor do you have to open their mailbox for the first time in Microsoft Outlook. All that does is set up the local profile, which has nothing to do with the server. Once the mailbox is created, its ready to receive email.
—Tim D.

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