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Customize Outlook Web Access for different 'views'

Various commands let you easily navigate without opening the entire interface.

Most anyone who has used Outlook Web Access (OWA) with Exchange 2000 knows basically how to get to their Exchange...

server through a Web browser (assuming that the user knows the appropriate URL, which you, the administrator, have provided).

For example, to get to my mailbox with OWA, (assuming I have a username on the Exchange server), I would fire up my browser and enter http:// <servername>/exchange/, where the servername is supplied by the Exchange administrator. This is a fairly common practice, and the URL can change, of course, according to the way that the Exchange infrastructure is set up.

But that gets any user (or administrator) to the basic view of OWA, showing a page that is very similar to the view of the Outlook client showing the user's inbox. There are other things that you can view. In fact, there's an entire panoply of commands that you or your users can enter to look at specific Outlook features.

Let's say, for example, that I am away at a conference. I have scheduled the sessions and meetings that I want to attend, and all the information is in my folders in the Exchange store. But I'm the kind of person who doesn't want to print the schedule out and carry it around with me; I'd rather just be able to access the schedule from a computer that the conference organizers have helpfully set up for conference attendees to use.

How do I do it? Well, knowing the server URL, I enter http:// <exchangeserver>/exchange/<username>/calendar/. With that entry, I get right to my calendar with no muss and no fuss. I don't have to open the whole OWA interface, and then navigate to the calendar view.

There are other commands that you and your users can employ to get to their inbox, the notes view, or their contacts. To continue the previous example, I might want to look up the cell phone number of someone I am supposed to meet but have to cancel. Simply substitute /contacts/ for /calendar/ in the above example to be able to do that.

How much you allow your users to do is up to you, of course, but using these commands might make it a lot easier for your folks to use Outlook Web Access.

For more information about customizing OWA, you can download a white paper on this subject on the Microsoft web site. 

David Gabel has been testing and writing about computers for more than 25 years.

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