[Update]: This post was updated on January 23, 2020.
Office 365 (Microsoft 365) brings a brand new point of view when it comes to data sharing and cooperation. Since you can access your account from any place in the world, as long as you have access to the internet, group work becomes much easier. In this article, we’re going to focus specifically on sharing contacts with your colleagues – both by using Outlook and a shared mailbox.
How to share contacts in Office 365?
It is possible to share contacts in Office 365, however available options are limited as compared to calendar sharing.
A major downside is that contacts folder sharing is not possible in Outlook on the web (OWA). To share your personal contacts, you have to use Outlook.
See the steps below:
- In Outlook, go to the People view, select a folder with contacts you would like to share and right-click on it.
- In the context menu, select Share and then Share Contacts.
- The sharing invitation will show up. In the To… field, type in names or emails of users you would like to share your contacts folder with. Then, define recipients permissions to the folder. In the blank section at the bottom, you can enter a short message if needed.
- Once your invitation is ready, click Send.
Share contacts in Office 365 using a shared mailbox
For sharing contacts lists, you can also use the shared mailbox functionality. The process of creating a shared mailbox in Office 365 (Microsoft 365) is identical to creating a group calendar.
Make sure you have administrative rights, as they are required to follow this instruction:
- Sign in to the Exchange admin center using your Office 365 administrative credentials.
- Then, go to Recipients > Mailboxes and click Add a shared mailbox.
- In the Display name field, type the name of the mailbox. Copy that name to the Email address field (of course, you can use a different name if you wish). Finally, click Create.
- Once the shared mailbox is created, click Add users to this mailbox.
- Next, click Add members and add users from your organization with a standard user picker. The users you choose will have the Full Access permission to the mailbox and will be able to behave as the owner of the mailbox.
- Once you have selected the users, click Save and Confirm to apply all changes.
You have just created a shared mailbox. A good thing is that for users specified as having full access to it, Outlook automatically displays shared folders of this mailbox. If a user you added opens the People view in Outlook, there should be a contacts folder visible on the My Contacts list.
Again, the problem arises if you want to use OWA. It simply does not support opening contacts folder from the shared mailbox.
External sharing with another Office 365 organization
Sadly contacts are also more limited than calendar folders in this scenario. Sharing externally is available only when two organizations are federated.
In the mobile age and cloud era, sharing is not just a buzz-word. It is a must. Contacts sharing is almost as important as email communication and as pointed out above, there are some aspects that could be improved in Office 365. Let’s hope that this will change soon.