We have an Exchange 2010 SP2 deployment and we need that our users could access multiple mailboxes in OWA.

The problem is that a user (eg John Smith) needs to access not just somebody else's (eg Tom Anderson) mailboxes, but his OWN mailboxes, e.g. in different domains: john.smith@domain-one.com, john.smith@domail-two.com, john.smith@domain-three.com, etc.

Of course it is preferable for the user to work with all of his mailboxes from a single window. Such mailboxes can be added as multiple Exchange accounts in Outlook, that works almost fine. But in OWA, there are problems:

1) In the left pane - as I've learned - we can open only Inbox folders from other mailboxes. No way to view all folders like in Outlook?

2) With Send-As permissions set, when trying to send a message from another address, that message is saved in the Sent Items folder of the mailbox that is opened in OWA, and not in the mailbox the message is sent from. The same thing with the trash can. Is there a way to fix that? Also, this problem exists in desktop Outlook when mailboxes are added automatically via the Auto Mapping feature, so that we need to turn it off and add the accounts manually. Is there a simpler workaround?

3) Okay, suppose we only open Inbox folders in the left pane. The problem is that the mailbox names shown there are formed from Display Name attributes. But those names are all identical! All the mailboxes are owned by John Smith, so they should be all named John Smith - so that letter recepient sees "John Smith" in the "from" field, no matter what mailbox it is sent from. Also, the user knows what's his name - no need to tell him. He wants to know what mailbox he works with. So we need a way to either:

a) customize OWA to show mailbox email address instead of user Display Name, or

b) make Exchange use another attribute to put in the "from" field when sending letters

4) Okay, we can switch between mailboxes using "Open Other Mailbox" in the upper-right corner menu. But:

a) To select a mailbox we need to enter its name (or first letters). It there a way to show a list of links to mailboxes the user has full access to? Eg in the page header...

b) If we start entering the first letters, we see a popup list with possible mailboxes to be opened. But there are all mailboxes (apparently from GAL), not only mailboxes the user has permission to open! How to filter that popup list?

c) The same problem as in (3) with mailbox naming. We can see the opened mailbox email address ONLY in the page URL, which is insufficient for many users. In the left pane we see "John Smith" which is useless.

5) Each mailbox is tied with a separate user in AD. If one has several mailboxes, we need to have additional dummy AD accounts, create additional OUs to store them, etc. That's not very nice, is there any standartized, optimal way to build such a structure?

We would really appreciate any answers or additional info for any of these questions. Thank you in advance.

  • Ideally, you should split this up into multiple questions. Some of yours are related, so you don't necessarily need 5 different questions, but at least a couple would make it easier to answer. – Ward Jan 26 '12 at 5:17
  • How many people need to do this, and home many mailboxes does each person need to open at one time? Could you do something ugly like one mailbox each in IE, Firefox, and Chrome? – Ward Jan 26 '12 at 5:18
  • Thanks for your feedback, I'll keep that in mind next time. It's my first post here, did not want to start with spamming the site with many questions :) – Alexey Smolik Jan 26 '12 at 7:46
  • About 20-30 people. Of course opening mailboxes in different browsers would work, but we are in 2012 though... and also they are users not geeks :) But we can switch mailboxes in the same session, so maybe we can open them in the same browser in different tabs – Alexey Smolik Jan 26 '12 at 7:57
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    That's a realy weird use case you've got there, and I'm inclined to think that you're doing it wrong. Why not use Outlook and have one primary mailbox per user? – BlueCompute Dec 4 '13 at 22:16

Thanks to everybody.

Finally, I've found a workaround for some of the described issues.

A few notes first. Opening multiple mailboxes in different browsers works, but that's inconvenient and not the way the users would like to go. Not many users have more than 1 browser installed. And in many cases there are corporate policies that restrict browsers that can be used.

We could open mailboxes in different tabs of one browser, but OWA doesn't permit us to do so (why?).

The simplest way I found is to use the bookmark panel. We bookmark OWA URLs of different mailboxes (e.g. https://server/owa for main page, https://server/owa/john@doe.com for other, etc). So now we have buttons over there that open different mailboxes in the same tab and with one click.

Not all the problems are solved, but that helped much though.

  • "but OWA doesn't permit us to do so (why?)" Um because it expects one authentication token for the user? The whole reason you're in this mess is because you're trying to have one user behave like multiple users, which isn't supported... – BlueCompute Feb 7 '14 at 13:17

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