Email disclaimers on Microsoft Exchange Server’s side

(First published Jan 16, 2014)

Server sided email disclaimers belong to one of the most desired features among server administrators. Although the need for this functionality has been consistently increasing throughout the past years, Microsoft still hasn’t disclosed a robust built-in Exchange Server mechanism that would fully satisfy the needs of IT professionals.

Let’s take a look at the list of things that all successive versions of Exchange Server can do natively in this matter, and compare it with vast capabilities of CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro, a third party email management tool for Exchange 2016 and 2019.

Exchange Server’s 2007 Hub Transport disclaimers

After the strong limitations of Exchange 2000 and 2003 that required Visual Basic or VB Script knowledge to set up disclaimers for outgoing messages, Exchange Server 2007 introduced the append/prepend disclaimer text Hub Transport action. Thanks to this feature, it is at last possible to configure a server-sided company disclaimer directly on Exchange, but still the limitations of this functionality are relatively big.

Although the Hub Transport rule creation wizard allows you to edit such basic settings as the font size and the color of the text, in the end the appended or prepended message looks very raw and you aren’t allowed to use HTML tags in a disclaimer template. What is more, Active Directory dynamic fields aren’t supported from the level of Exchange Management Console, so as a matter of fact, it is not possible to use this feature as a company signature creator.

Main limitations of Hub Transport disclaimers in Exchange 2007:

  • No HTML support;
  • No RTF format support;
  • No dynamic Active Directory fields support;
  • No side banners and side disclaimers option;
  • No disclaimer positioning options (e.g. disclaimer text after the most recent reply);
  • No support for email banners and pictures in disclaimers;
  • No template and picture library;
  • No time rules;
  • Disclaimers not displayed in users’ Sent Items folders.
Exchange Server’s 2007 disclaimer action configuration.

Exchange Server’s 2010 native disclaimer feature

With the launch of Exchange 2010 things got a bit better. Not only are server administrators now allowed to create company disclaimers in the Exchange Management Console, but also some additional customization options have been made available.  The Specify disclaimer text box allows them to use HTML (with in-line CSS) which makes it possible to make the footer more fancy than in Exchange 2007. In addition, you can use dynamic Active Directory placeholders wrapped with “%%” tags, e.g. %%DisplayName%%, which are then replaced with user’s individual Active Directory data after the message has been sent.

HTML code within the disclaimer text window in Exchange 2010.

These features all together make the Exchange Server’s built-in disclaimer mechanism more flexible, but still the implementation of standardized company disclaimers on Exchange 2010 is pretty inconvenient and has other limitations too.  The greatest inconvenience is that there’s no built-in HTML editor with Active Directory placeholders support that would allow you to format the template easily or quickly insert pictures to it. See the list of other limitations below.

Most important limitations of Exchange 2010 built-in disclaimers:

  • No HTML editor;
  • No RTF format support;
  • No side banners and side disclaimers option;
  • No disclaimer positioning options (e.g. disclaimer text after the most recent reply);
  • No template and picture library;
  • No time rules;
  • Users don’t see the disclaimer added by Exchange in Sent Items.

Exchange Server’s 2013, 2016, and 2019 further developments for hub transport disclaimers?

In Exchange 2013, 2016, and 2019, Microsoft followed the path already taken, and extended the possibilities of managing messages in (Hub) Transport by introducing support for data loss prevention, and adding a new set of conditions and actions for transport rules; however there was no major, or even a lesser improvement introduced in terms of the apply disclaimer feature. The only distinction worth noticing is of the way how the disclaimer text window is triggered. Now, in Exchange 2013, 2016, and 2019, it is done through EAC, which is much easier and more intuitive, unlike it was in Exchange 2010 using EMC.

One may ask if Microsoft clearly states that it is as far it will go in terms of the disclaimer editing feature and its further development. At this point the component is still on the level of Exchange 2010, and consequently Exchange 2013, 2016, and 2019 versions have the same limitations as their predecessor release in composing and applying disclaimers.

The constant limitations of Exchange family:

  • No HTML editor;
  • No RTF format support;
  • No side banners and side disclaimers option;
  • No disclaimer positioning options (e.g. disclaimer text after the most recent reply);
  • No template and picture library;
  • No time rules;
  • Users don’t see the disclaimers in Sent Items.

CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro – professional disclaimers on Exchange 2016 and 2019

All these inconveniences will be gone after you choose to download CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro and install it on your server. This Exchange Server add-on not only lets you get rid of the native limitations of Microsoft Exchange Server, but also it opens completely new possibilities to you as far as mail flow management and email content control is concerned.

CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro is an advanced administration tool for Exchange Server administrators. The program extends the native abilities of Hub Transport rules and even adds more value to it. Thanks to CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro, things that are either impossible to do in Hub Transport or require special commands in the Exchange Management Shell can be done with just a few clicks and from the level of an easy-to-use user interface:

The user interface of CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro.

Obviously, the program has an advanced built-in email disclaimer management system as well. Its advantage over Exchange’s native disclaimers is pretty obvious. Let’s focus on this particular feature right now.

The HTML template editor

Owing to CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro, it is possible to easily create rich HTML designs for mail on 2013, 2016 and 2019 version of Exchange Server. The program is equipped with an easy-to-use HTML editor that allows you to design HTML templates with the same logic as if you used an ordinary word processor. No HTML/CSS  knowledge is required.

The HTML template editor in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro.

With just a few clicks you are able to compose HTML disclaimer templates that contain Active Directory fields, static images or email banners, as well as individual photographs of senders pulled dynamically from the Active Directory’s thumbnailPhoto attribute.

The same editor allows you to create RTF and Plain Text substitutes for your HTML templates that will be appended to email sent in these formats.

What is more, CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro enables the administrator to insert disclaimers and email banners in any place of the message body, including the side panes.

Disclaimers under the most recent reply – all mail clients supported

CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro lets you easily insert disclaimers in email replies and in forwarded messages. Furthermore, you can choose whether you wish to add a disclaimer if there’s already one found in the conversation, and/or specify where it should be placed – at the very bottom of the entire thread or under the most recent reply.

Disclaimer positioning options in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro.

What ‘s also important, this feature was designed to work with all popular mail clients and mobile devices  such as iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, etc. It uses, with no doubt, by far the best and most reliable email disclaimer positioning algorithm on the market.

Set time ranges for your rules

CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro allows you to set date ranges for your email rules. It means that you can configure the program to use a given disclaimer design only within a desired period of time.  This feature is very useful e.g. while running email marketing campaigns.  The server administrator can set up a banner-adding rule to work only within the given promotional period. This feature is not available in Exchange Server Hub Transport rules.

Setting up a date range for a rule in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro.

Email disclaimers visible in Sent Items folder

Exchange Server doesn’t allow end users to view server-level disclaimers in Sent Items folders on their mail clients. Not only it’s a strange feeling when you send a message and don’t know how exactly it will look like when it reaches the recipient, but also it may cause some legal consequences, since very often companies are obliged to disclose tangible evidence that legal notes and disclaimers are really appended to their official correspondence.

To sort it all out, CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro was equipped with the Sent Items Update feature which makes the server-sided disclaimers visible in Sent Items folder after the mail has been sent. What is more, users will be able to see their disclaimers in emails no matter what mail client they use.

Rich library of ready-to-use templates and sample pictures

CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro was designed to make the life of a server administrator easier. While creating disclaimer templates, it is possible to use the program’s rich library. It offers numerous ready-to-use disclaimer templates and images. This feature helps to create more professional looking designs and makes composing them extremely easy and fast.

The template library of CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro.

Learn more about the template library of CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro

Only a small selection of possibilities…

Exchange Transport rules do make it possible to deploy server-sided disclaimers without installing any additional software, but many desired scenarios are either impossible to implement or require advanced administration knowledge. Since many IT guys work for several organization at one time and are responsible for a wider range of IT related topics, an additional tool like CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro could be a true life savior to them. The program can be used for many purposes, e.g. as email content control, auto-reply deployment, spam filtering and many more. The architecture of CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro allows server administrators to design almost countless email flow and administration scenarios.

Suggested reading

See the official comparison: CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro vs. Exchange Server How to set up automatic email disclaimers on Exchange 2007 How to set up email signatures on Exchange Server 2010 How to set up email signatures on Exchange Server 2013 How to set up email signatures on Exchange Server 2016 How to set up email signatures on Exchange Server 2019

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One thought on “Email disclaimers on Microsoft Exchange Server’s side

  1. Can i create & apply signatures based on device/client attributes?

    For example a media rich signature when send from laptop and a more simple signature from Mobile device (for the same user).

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