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We are using an out of date custom application for managing mailing/contact lists. We are a very small office, an all Microsoft shop. We have Exchange and Windows Sharepoint Services and Office 2007.

I'm looking for thoughts about the best solution for setting up a shared contact list which would be used for mail merges and also simple searches for email/phone.

Sharepoint and Exchange/Outlook both have pros and cons - what are they? Any other options?

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Well you might want to use Exchange Public Folders (Contacts) to store your contacts there.

UPDATE: Microsoft will not retire Public Folders in Exchange 2010. Take a look at this article to learn more about future and possible usage of Public Folders.

As I see it SharePoint approach is much better and it will fit nicely:


  • available as web application
  • list item security
  • can be exported to Excel and Outlook
  • datasheet edit mode
  • mail merge is supported (via Office)
  • you can build related list (e.g. connect each contact with account)


  • creating complicated relationships and tracking your mailings is not supported OOTB. You might wanna consider Microsoft Dynamics CRM or 3rd party solution to do that.
  • There is Outlook <> SharePoint integration but each user must enable it manually
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"next release of Exchange" is Exchange 2010, due out later this year. Its public folder support is identical to what's in Exchange 2007. – paulr Jun 4 '09 at 14:13
WOW, MS is changing decision every few days. I will update my post to match. Thx. – Toni Frankola Jun 4 '09 at 15:07
The way that reads to me - public folders will be the read-headed stepchild of the two. ;) – Kara Marfia Jun 4 '09 at 16:17
Yup, something like that :))) – Toni Frankola Jun 4 '09 at 16:29

Personally I've just set up a few OUs in AD with AD Contacts for external contacts - which are then put into whatever distribution lists are needed and easily searchable through both Windows and Outlook for the users... I guess what you want is something fancier though ^^

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+1 for mail-enabled contacts, they are maintainable in AD and they appear in the Global Address list in Outlook, so you should be able to include these contacts in distribution lists for <spamming> mail-ouots. – nray Jun 4 '09 at 13:00

I would actually go with Public Folders in Outlook.

  • The import/export functionality is quick and easy.
  • It will take you all of about 5 minutes to set one up.
  • Making the contacts available to you in outlook is built in.
  • Depending on your network setup, they will always be available. Even without network connectivity.

The one piece that might be a bit problematic is mail merges. I've never used outlook contact lists as a data source. I'm highly confident that you can though.

I'm saying use public folders since they are still available at least in Exchange 2007, and I can't believe that MS will get rid of them that soon.

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Have you considered a outside service to manage it? here is another topic about the subject matter

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I was not clear in the question. This isn't about mass email. This is about managing contacts. We need phone numbers, email and snail mail addresses. We use the mail merge for snail mail, not for email. When we send email to a group, it's usually a small group. – ScottStonehouse Jun 4 '09 at 12:03

In my consulting days about 80% of the small businesses i worked with Act Contact Manager. They were all really happy with it. I haven't worked with it since 2006 so I can speak to how the newer versions are.

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