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Stop recipients from modifying sent e-mails

How to make sure users cannot change the contents of a sent message.

Microsoft Outlook offers some very simple often-overlooked features that we do not often pay much attention to....

One example is the ability to make sure that users cannot change the contents of a sent message.

You might want to make sure that this can't be done just so that you can maintain an accurate audit trail of e-mails on sensitive topics. But under normal circumstances, when you send an e-mail to someone in your organization, that user can modify the body of the message to his or her liking and can then forward the message to someone else. In Microsoft Outlook there is really no method to have the e-mail sent as read-only, which would, of course, preventing the recipient from modifying the body of the message. Is there a solution?

One method might be including the message as a Microsoft Word attachment, protecting the document and then sending it out. But there's a simple little trick that you can use to prevent the recipient from modifying the body of the message.

Here's is what to do:

  • After completing the message, click on the options button. This brings up the Message Options Dialog box.

  • Click the down arrow next to the Sensitivity box and select Private.

  • Click the Close button.

Now the recipient will not be able to modify the body of the message. When the recipient receives the message the sensitivity status will be listed on a yellow banner at the top of the opened message window.

The recipient can add additional text to the top of the message and forward to someone else in the organization but the original message cannot be modified.

Of course, this method demands that users are aware of the trick, so it's a good idea to include this in your Outlook training, so users know how to keep their original thoughts as they intended in sensitive messages.

Adesh Rampat has 10 years experience with network and IT administration. He is a member of the Association Of Internet Professionals, the Institute For Network Professionals, and the International Webmasters Association. He has also lectured extensively on a variety of topics.

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