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How to create custom MailTips in Exchange Server 2010

Built-in MailTips prevent users from making common email gaffes, but you can also create custom MailTips to provide other helpful information. Here's how.

The built-in MailTips in Exchange 2010 help Outlook users avoid common email faux pas -- such as accidentally emailing...

a private message to everyone in the company. But you can also customize MailTips to suit the needs of your Exchange environment.

One possible use for a custom MailTip is to notify users who are about to send an email to an unmonitored mailbox. One of my previous employers had a dedicated mailbox for sending IT notifications to users. For example, we would send out an email indicating that a specific server was going to be taken offline for maintenance. Even though the mailbox was only used for these types of notifications, users still frequently sent email to the mailbox asking about the server's availability.

At another place where I used to work, my predecessor had created mailboxes that were used to schedule conference rooms (this was before Microsoft created room mailboxes). The problem was that he used extremely cryptic mailbox names that only made sense to him. For example, the second floor conference room's mailbox was named H2M2XXI. That person eventually left the company and I was able to rename the mailboxes. If MailTips had existed back then, users could have figured out which conference room they were scheduling a meeting in.

There are numerous other uses for custom MailTips, so let's take a look at how they work.

Creating MailTips in Exchange 2010
Exchange 2010 makes it easy to create and implement a custom MailTip, as long as you only use a single language. If you need to provide the tip in multiple languages, you'll have to jump through a couple of hoops, which I’ll show you later.

Custom MailTips are enabled through Exchange Management Shell (EMS) commands. You can create a custom MailTip using any of the following cmdlets:

Set-Mailbox
Set-MailContact
Set-MailUser
Set-DistributionGroup
Set-DynamicDistributionGroup
Set-MailPublicFolder

No matter which cmdlet you're using, the basic syntax is the same. First, you must use one of the cmdlets above. Then you have to append the –Identity switch to specify the identity of the object you are binding the MailTip to. You must also use the –MailTip parameter to specify what the MailTip tells your users.

To show you what I mean, let’s create a MailTip using my earlier example of the second floor conference room with the cryptic mailbox name (H2M2XXI).  To do so, you would use the following command:

Set-Mailbox –Identity “H2M2XXI” –MailTip “This is the second floor conference room.”

Adding language translations to custom MailTips
As you can see, custom MailTips are fairly easy to create and implement. However, things get complicated if you need to use multiple languages. If you attempt to issue a command similar to the one above to add a translation, you will overwrite the MailTip that you previously created and only the translation will remain.

To prevent this, you must use additional variables. Let's assume that you want to add a Spanish translation to the MailTip we just created.  Assuming that the English version is already in place, then the first command you would use is:

$CustomMailTipVar = Get-Mailbox H2M2XXI

This command associates a variable named $CustomMailTipVar with the mailbox H2M2XXI. You can name the variable anything you want as long as the name starts with a dollar sign ($). In certain situations, you may need to specify the full email address of the mailbox that you want to use, rather than just the mailbox name. For example, you would use H2M2XXI@contoso.com rather than just H2M2XXI.

After you've declared the variable, you must create a second variable that stores the foreign language translation. To do this, you have to know the abbreviation for the language you're going to use. We want to add a Spanish translation, so we must use the abbreviation ES

Now you’ll use the same variable name as before, but you'll have to append .MailTipTranslations to the variable name. Your command will look something like this:

$CustomMailTipVar.MailTipTranslations += “ES:Esta la sala de conferencias de segundo”

Notice that this command uses the plus equal sign (+=), not the equal sign (=). This ensures that any translations already in place are not overwritten. You'll also notice that the language abbreviation (ES) comes just before the text.

The last step is to write the new MailTip to the mailbox. Use the following command:

Set-Mailbox –Identity H2M2XXI –MailTipTranslations $CustomMailTipVar.MailTipTranslations

Your newly created English and Spanish MailTips will now display should a user attempt to send a message to the unmonitored mailbox, explaining that H2M2XXI is the second floor conference room.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brien Posey is an eight-time Microsoft MVP with two decades of IT experience. Before becoming a freelance technical writer, Brien worked as a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the nation’s largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox.

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