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How to disable adding signatures created in Outlook for Exchange users

Problem:

After installing centrally managed signature adding software, such as CodeTwo Exchange Rules family, Pro version or even cloud based CodeTwo Email Signatures for Office 365 you may need to disable stamping messages with personal signatures created in Outlook. If you are not able to get all users to manually remove their Outlook's signatures, some users may end up having two different signatures: one from Outlook and another added by signature adding software operating server-side.

Solution:

Your users must be logged on to a domain to which you have full administrative access as they must be subjected to your GPO policies for this solution to work. Organizations working with Exchange Online (Office 365) can also apply this solution providing their users are connected to an on-premises Active Directory or Azure AD you have full administrative access to.

To avoid this problem, you may use Group Policy ObjectIf you don't have the ADM or ADMX file dedicated for Outlook version used by the users, you should download one. Please pick appropriate one from the list below:

Please keep in mind this solution requires a relevant Security Group containing all users who should not have the signature set up in Microsoft Outlook. If you do not have such a Security Group (e.g. Users with no signature), create a new one directly under your domain.

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Fig. 1. A Security Group with users who should not receive a signature.

The next section refers to newer environments, so if you are using Windows Server 2003 or SBS2003, click here.

On Windows Server 2008 and newer

First, please note that both ADMX and ADML files are necessary to complete the installation. For more information please refer to the Microsoft's Knowledge Base article. To install Policy Definitions in such environments, please put all ADMX files inside directory:

%SystemRoot%\PolicyDefinitions

The ADML files are significant part of the policy definition and must be installed along with ADMX files. Inside the PolicyDefinitions folder you will be able to see at least one the directory with name corresponding to your locale, e.g. ("en-US"). Inside downloaded package you should find a lot of similar directories. In order to complete the installation of policies, please follow steps described below:

  1. Ensure you have opened PolicyDefinitions folder and download location.
  2. Find out what directories with language-based names are existing in PolicyDefinitions.
  3. From download location, copy folders with names found in PolicyDefinitions.
  4. Paste copied folders into PolicyDefinitions folder.

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Fig. 2. Copying files to PolicyDefinitions.

Prior to taking this step please ensure that you have relevant Security Group containing all users who should not receive a signature in Microsoft Outlook. Open the Group Policy Management Editor by running gpmc.msc and follow steps described below:

  1. In the left pane, right-click on your domain (e.g. domain103.lab), then select Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here. 
  2. Name your new GPO and click OK.
  3. Select newly created object to open it. 
  4. In Scope tab, remove the Authenticated Users from Security Filtering pane.
  5. In the same pane, append Security Group you have created earlier (e.g. Users with no signature).

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Fig. 3. Setting up properly new GPO object. 

Finally, right-click on GPO in the right pane and select Edit... from context menu. Once the window will appear, navigate to User Configuration, Policies, Administrative Templates (or Classic Administrative Templates), Microsoft Outlook 2010 (this number depends on version you have installed) and Outlook Options, then Mail Format.   

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Fig. 4. Location of enabled policy.

In the right pane you will see "Do not allow signatures for e-mail messages", please enable this option. 

All users have to log out and then log in to apply the changes. Moreover, you can manually force policy update by running gpupdate /force. Please also keep in mind, that these changes will not take effect immediately, time of this process depends on your specific environment configuration. 

On Windows Server 2003 or SBS2003

  1. Open Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. Prior to taking next steps please ensure that you have relevant Security Group containing all users who should not receive a signature in Microsoft Outlook. If so, right-click on your domain.
  3. Choose Properties, Group Policy tab, Open button. The Group Policy Management console should appear.
  4. Right-click on your domain (e.g. sbs2003.local) and from context menu select command Create and Link a GPO Here...
  5. Name your new Group Policy Object.
  6. Select newly created GPO in left pane and the ensure, that you have opened Scope tab. 
  7. In the Security Filtering pane add the Security Group you have prepared earlier and then remove the Authenticated Users from the list.
  8. Once it is done, right click on your GPO in the left pane, then select Edit... 

The Group Policy Object Editor should show up. Once it does, spread the Administrative Templates. To install previously downloaded policies' definitions, right-click on the Administrative Templates and select Add/Remove Templates. A window will appear:

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Fig. 5. Additional administrative templates. 

Click Add.. button and select the ADM files, then click Close. Now you are able to set proper policies in order to remove current signatures in Microsoft Outlook. To do so, please spread the Administrative Templates and then select Microsoft Office Outlook XXXX (where the XXXX stands for the version of installed Office templates). Below you can find out where exactly relevant policies are located in Office 2003 and Office 2007 versions.

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Fig. 6. Disabling signatures from Outlook 2003 on exchange server.

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Fig. 7. Disabling signatures from Outlook 2007 on exchange server.

To disable adding Outlook's signatures to messages, set the tools marked in pictures above to Enabled. Additionally, for Outlook 2003, check the disabling box (Disable signatures for new messages / Disable signatures for replies and forwards), as shown in Fig. 8.

How set up disabling signatures from Otlook 2003.
Fig. 8. How to set up disabling signatures from Outlook 2003.

All users have to log out and then log in to apply the changes. Moreover, you can manually force policy update by running gpupdate /force. Please also keep in mind, that these changes will not take effect immediately, time of this process is depends on your specific environment configuration. 

See also:

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