Avoid policy disputes: Display your company rules in a publicly accessible Outlook folder


by Margaret Kavanagh

Application: Microsoft Outlook 2000/2002/2003 with Exchange

Operating System: Microsoft Windows

If you don’t make important policy information instantly accessible by your employees, you’re taking a huge risk with your company’s welfare. You can keep that important data front and center by creating a central repository of information right in Outlook and make it available to everyone in your company.

To ensure your company policies are available to all, we’ll:

  • Define public folders and create one to house your important employee data.
  • Control who can view the information and who can edit it to protect the data’s integrity.
  • Add multiple items to the public folder, including documents, postings, and file attachments.

Keeping your employees up to date on company policies and procedures is an absolute must or you could face legal difficulties if you encounter a personnel problem. Rather than risk a lawsuit, store your most recent information in Outlook’s public folders for everyone to access—we’ll show you how.

What is a public folder?

A public folder, available in Outlook with Microsoft Exchange Server, appears in your Folder List and allows you to share all sorts of items: email messages, Calendars, Microsoft Word documents, Contacts, and so on. Outlook has three public folders set up by default, Favorites, All Public Folders, and Internet Newsgroups, as shown in Figure A.

For our example, we’ll create a public folder that all employees have access to, which contains our company’s Human Resources information, such as procedural documents, payroll forms, the company’s holiday calendar, and even message boards.


A: Outlook has three default public folders (Favorites, All Public Folders, and Internet Newsgroups), and you can create more to collaborate with others.

Get started with public folders

There are two ways to create public folders: through Outlook and through the Exchange System Manager. In this article, we’ll create public folders from within Outlook. We’ll assume that you have permissions to create public folders on your server (your Exchange Administrator must grant you those rights).

If you can’t create a public folder: If you’re unable to follow along with our techniques, ask your Administrator to grant you the necessary rights. Often, companies limit public folder creation privileges for security reasons. If you can’t obtain full permission to create public folders, you can post items to an existing folder if the owner grants you permission to do so.

To create a public folder:

  • In the Folder List view, click on the plus sign (+) next to Public Folders to expand it.
  • Right-click on the All Public Folders folder and choose New Folder to display the Create New Folder dialog box.
  • Enter a name in the Name text box for the public folder. We entered Human Resources, since we’re creating a folder to house all of the company’s human resources forms and procedures documentation.
  • Choose which types of items to store in the folder from the Folder Contains dropdown menu. We chose Mail And Post Items (Mail Items in 2000) since we’ll include items such as Outlook forms, Microsoft Word documents, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, and postings.

What are postings? Postings are Outlook items created and saved in a folder for reference, but not emailed to any recipient. However, others can reply to a posting, creating a message thread similar to a forum.

  • Choose a location for the new public folder from the Select Where To Place The Folder list box. We want this folder to be a subset of the All Public Folders folder, so we’ll leave it as is.
  • Click OK once you’ve made your selections. If Outlook asks if you’d like to include a shortcut to this folder in the Outlook Bar, click No.

We now need to set the permissions that we want to grant for our new public folder. To keep control of the contents of a public folder, it’s wise to specify permissions to particular groups or individuals.

Determine who can access your public folder

To make the most of a public folder, you can set different permissions for different users. We&rsqu[...]

Join NowClose
Return to the ExcelSkillsSociety's homepage