[Update]: This post was updated on January 23, 2020.
As already pointed out in our other article What can be synced in Office 365, in today’s world sharing is literally everything.
We have also learned how to use Office 365 to share personal calendars as well as create a common shared calendar (via shared mailbox). What about contacts then?
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 OWA. To share your personal contacts you have to use Outlook.
See the steps below:
- In Outlook, select a Contacts folder 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 a shared mailbox functionality. The process of creating a shared mailbox in Office 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 Exchange admin center using your Office 365 administrative credentials.
- Then, go to recipients, and the shared tab.
- Click the plus icon to add a new 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).
- In the Users section, you can add users with the permission to send emails from this shared mailbox.
- Click Save.
- Now you should see this new shared mailbox added to the shared list.
- Double-click on your shared mailbox to edit it.
- In the mailbox delegation tab, you can add users who will have full access to the mailbox and will be able to behave as the owner of the mailbox.
- Once you have selected the users, click Save.
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 the user 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.