New Feature – Public Folders in Office 365 Preview

This week Microsoft opened up for a customer preview of the next major update to Office 365 – called Office 365 Preview. You can try it out here.

The Public Folders page is a new feature for Exchange Online introduced with Office 365 Preview. It provides an easy and effective way to collect, organize, and share information with other people in your workgroup or organization. It is not designed for Archiving Data or Document sharing and Collaboration.

In Office 365 Preview every public folder must live in a Public Folder mailbox. You will need to create at least one Public Folder mailbox before you can create Public Folders.


To create a Public Folder Mailbox

Navigate to the Exchange Admin Center (EAC)

Click Public Folders > Public Folder Mailboxes

Click (+) New

Enter a Name and click Save

Check the list to ensure the new Public Folder Mailbox is available


To create a Public Folder

Click Public Folders > Public Folders

Click (+) New

Enter a Name and click Save.

Verify that the folder has been created (note - its has no subfolders and has not been mail enabled yet)


To create a Subfolder

Click on the name of the initial folder

Click (+) New

Enter a Name and click Save.

Verify that the subfolder has been created (note its location in the hierarchy)



To Mail Enable Public Folders

Select the public folder and click Enable under Mail Settings

Click Yes at the warning.

Once the setting is saved, you can click Edit to configure the Public Folder

In the Public Folder window, note that several new options will be available, e.g:

  • General:Public Folder name etc
  • Statistics: Count of Deleted Items etc
  • Limits: Warning Quotas etc
  • General mail properties: Edit Alias, Display Name, add custom attributes
  • Emails Addresses: Add/Edit additional SMTP Addresses for the public folder
  • Member Of: Add the public folder to distribution groups
  • Delivery Options: Configure Send As, Send on behalf, and Forwarding on the public folder
  • Mail Flow Settings: Enable/Edit delivery restrictions on for the public folder mailbox.


Working with Public Folders

Open Outlook 2013 and verify that the Public Folders are listed at the bottom of the Folder Explorer


UPDATE MAY 2013: New TechNet Content: "Migrate Legacy Public Folders to Exchange Online" - link 



See also

Comments (29)
  1. No cost as far as I know

  2. Gabi says:

    Public folders?????

    This is one thing which was really missed from Office 365.

    If office 365 Preview will properly implement Public Folders as illustrated in this document, it will really help increase the customer base.

    You state that you need to open Outlook 2013 to verify, are you able to view your public folders from OWA too?

    Many thanks,


  3. Ari says:

    Wow – we are close to start migrating to Office 365/Exchange online, and we were told that public folders are not available in Exchange Online.  Now they are supported?  I'm very confused…

  4. Gabi says:

    Ari, I feel for your confussion, I am in the same boat.

    Public folders not being available in office365 was a real show stopper, and now that they have this in place for Preview, it could be great.

    I was informed by several MS employees via the forums that public folders would never come into play, due to the way the hosted infrastructure was deployed and that it was really unlikely it would ever be available. Sharepoint was the "new" public folders.

    Would be good to get some clarification on this please,


  5. Camila says:

    Hi There,

    We are all at the same page…

    My Company was up to go for Office 365 and do not have Public Folders was a real limitation for us to move forward, but now this new, it's quite confusing…

    Is this maybe a Beta feature Microsoft is trying to implement to stop losing customers? Where do you think we can double check this info?

    We are craving for clarification….



  6. Jay Ritchie says:

    This post is talking about the forthcoming release of Office 365 with no release date currently set. It looks to me the implementation is clever, but different from public folders you get with on-premise Exchange. I expect, but can't confirm, that a separate migration process will be necessary to move your public folders to O365 when the next release is available. The question about OWA is interesting and I'll research that.

  7. Gabi says:

    Jay, what do you mean that it's different regarding the on-premise exchange?

    Fundamentally, you are of course correct, two completely different beasts, however, the functional requirements from many businesses regarding public folders is the same.

    With office 365 at the moment, you would need a shared mailbox or a user, where you have rights to that mailbox and in fact, this is what many organisations are doing.

    If there was an easy way to sync the public folders, then that would really give them the edge over Google Apps, specially since SkyDrive. That will some tutorials online on how to use it and real businesses processes, then it sure is a winner, hey even the price is reasonable 🙂

    The only thing they need now is to change the Office license under enterprise from being Retail to Volume Licensing, this will enable many businesses to fully utilise Office 365 in their infrastructure, as at the moment, you cannot use Office Professional Plus on Terminal Services or Citrix…………

    Thanks All,


    (Can we add a tick box here, to update us when someone has replied? )

  8. Dave says:

    Public Folders in Exchange 2013 is changing from a database to a mailbox (…/jj150538(v=exchg.150).aspx) which translates
    to it being available in the next version of Office 365.  

  9. Jon Wooten says:

    When will this new release be available? We are just about to flip over to Office 365 and having public folders in the portal would be very helpful.  The third party tools to migrate everything to SharePoint are pretty expensive.  

  10. Pedro says:

    Quick question about Public Folders in O365. If John Smith replies to an email that is in the Sales public folder, can he reply as rather than



  11. Andrew says:

    @Pedro, if you setup Public folders as a shared or user mailbox which is shared, then it will send from the Public folder by default. If the "public folder" has an email address of then the message would appear to come from sales.

  12. Adamski says:

    The public folder functionality, is vital for many organizations. I am glad that Microsoft has realized that by not offering it in previous Office 365 versions they have limited their potential customer base.

    The moment that this moves from beta to finished product, our Exchange 2010 server will be decommissioned in favour of this.

    Hurry up Microsoft!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. TVossSE says:

    Hi, can someone tell me what the projected date of release for this new version including Public Folders is?  Thanks!

  14. Codemonkey2k5 says:

    Please Please Please!!!! Let there be a contact enabled public folder.

    No, I wont use sharepoint!  No I am not going to add 10,000 contacts.

    These are company contacts that all of our employees need to be able to see add to and edit every day.

    Thank you!!!

  15. Andy says:

    yes, how are we getting along with this, lots of customers are use to using public folders

  16. jacques says:

    I really hope this comes out soon.

    Public Folders has been the only thing keeping me back from moving my clients over to Office 365!

  17. Jon Wooten says:

    I was on the phone with Office 365 Support today and I did ask about the release date of the upgraded Office 365.  She told me it will be early May 2013.  

  18. Janne Nyman says:

    Hi Jon, not sure why you got this advise. I am just using a Trial of Office365 E3 and this has public folder support that seem to work pretty much the same way it did in SBS2011 where you can mail-enable and give permissions to different users.

  19. Janne Nyman says:

    Does anyone know if there is a cost (money) associated which each public folder or is there a cost to the public folder mailbox which holds the public folders?

  20. clab says:

    Is this feature compatible with Oulook 2010?

  21. Laura Hansen says:

    We've just migrated to o365 preview and have uploaded our public folder data. We are finding that it runs really really slowly when you are searching for anything now.

    I'm not sure that the public folders are caching on pcs or not.

    I'm wondering whether there should be limits on the number of messages that are stored within a single public folder?

    I remember being told to keep all top level mailbox folders to a limit of 5000 messages in order to keep outlook functioning at a decent speed.

  22. The Conman says:

    The link for "UPDATE MAY 2013: New TechNet Content: "Migrate Legacy Public Folders to Exchange Online" is broke.

  23. Rick says:

    Great article – key component is to create a subfolder in the subfolder of the root.

    If you just create the 1st level subfolder, NADA – nothing

    so, thanks a million

  24. Craig Bonvechio says:

    MS has hated public folders for years even as far back as Exchange 2002 they always threatened to do away with them. Trying to get us to move to a horrible SharePoint implementation. Hopefully his is a sign they are here to stay

  25. chrisp says:

    Office 365 – Is (To put it mildly) not mature enough to sell.
    Started today when Excel told me that I should get more memory or install the 64Bit version. Then on investigation (On MSoft site) it says that some things will not work in the 64 bit version….. Then – in outlook, the left pane shows me that there are some
    messages unread – couldn’t find them, so – marked all as read, restarted outlook and the count is still not 0…. Whats with this Microsoft – Fix your bugs or test your software BEFORE you release it and ask for money…….

  26. Khalil says:

    you can’t see public folders on OWA online, you only can create them, to see public folders you have to connect locally installed outlook on your pc to Office 365 exchange.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Not that I’m counting but I just realized one of my blog posts actually is closing in on 100k views

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