How to Add and Use a Shared Mailbox in Outlook and Office 365

Create a communal inbox in all versions of Microsoft Outlook

A shared mailbox enables customers, suppliers, and co-workers to send email to a central address where everyone on a team can see and respond it. One efficient way to share email messages with a group of people is to set up an Office 365 shared mailbox.

Shared mailbox is a feature of Office 365 and requires an Exchange Online subscription.

What Is a Shared Mailbox?

With a shared mailbox, every person assigned to that mailbox has complete access to all the messages in it. Member users can read incoming emails, reply to messages, forward messages, and see how others have responded. When a team member responds to an email message from the shared mailbox, the email is sent from the shared address rather than the individual's email address, so everyone's information stays confidential. That said, shared mailboxes typically don't have user names or passwords, which can create some security concerns.

A woman checking email on a desktop computer.

Why Use a Shared Mailbox?

Shared mailboxes are ideal for customer service or marketing departments that want incoming email messages to be answered by the next available team member. Shared mailboxes also come with a shared contact list and a shared calendar, so members of the group can create appointments in a central location that all members can see.

How to Set Up a Shared Mailbox in Office 365

You can create as many shared mailboxes as you need, but each user you assign to the mailbox must have an Office 365 subscription. To set up a shared mailbox, complete the following steps:

  1. Sign in to the Microsoft 365 admin center using your Office 365 global admin account or Exchange admin account credentials.

    The Microsoft 365 admin center

    The Microsoft 365 admin center was formerly known as the Office 365 admin center.

  2. In the navigation pane, select Groups > Shared mailboxes.

  3. On the Shared mailbox page, select Add a mailbox.

    Microsoft 365 admin center Shared mailboxes page
  4. On the Add a mailbox page, in Name, type a name for the shared mailbox.

    Office 365 admin center showing the shared mailbox settings page

    A mailbox alias is automatically created in the Email field, but you can change the alias, if you like. When you've named the shared mailbox, select Add.

  5. Under Next steps, select Add members to this mailbox.

  6. On the Add Shared Mailbox members page, select Add members.

  7. Under Members, select the check box beside the name of each person who will have access to the shared mailbox. If you don't see a person's name in the list, select Search, and then type the person's name. When you're done, select Save, and then select Close.

Save Sent Email to the Shared Mailbox

When a user sends an email message from the shared mailbox, a copy of that message is saved to that user's Sent Items folder, not to the shared mailbox. If you want to save these emails to the shared mailbox, instead, edit the shared mailbox settings.

To save sent email messages to the shared mailbox, complete the following steps:

  1. In the Microsoft 365 admin center, in the navigation pane, select Groups > Shared mailboxes.

  2. Select the shared mailbox you just created.

  3. In the mailbox's properties, beside Sent items, select Edit.

    Office 365 admin center showing the shared mailbox settings page
  4. On the Sent items page, set both Copy items sent as this mailbox and Copy items sent on behalf of this mailbox to On. Then, select Save.

Use the Shared Mailbox in Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, and Outlook 2010

When you have set up the shared mailbox, your users don’t have to do anything to display the shared mailbox in the desktop version of Outlook. The shared mailbox appears automatically in the Outlook sidebar.

To send an email from the shared mailbox, complete the following steps:

  1. Open Outlook.

  2. On the ribbon's Home tab, select New Email to create a new message.

    The New Email icon in Office 2016 for macOS
  3. In the new email message, select From, and then select the shared mailbox.

  4. Type your message, and then select Send.

Access the Shared Mailbox in Outlook on the Web

If you want to work with the shared mailbox in a web browser, you must add the mailbox manually.

To add the shared mailbox to Outlook on the web, complete the following steps:

  1. Sign in to your Microsoft 365 account, and then select the Outlook app.

  2. In the navigation pane, right-click (Control-click on Mac) your mailbox name, and then select Add shared folder.

  3. In the Add shared folder dialog box, type the email address of the shared mailbox, and then select Add.

Shared Mailboxes and the Outlook Mobile App

Shared mailboxes don't appear in the Outlook mobile app. So, if you want to access a shared mailbox from your smartphone, you must open a browser, and use Outlook on the web.

You'll notice a slight difference in how you work with your individual email account in Outlook and with the shared mailbox. With the shared mailbox, you and your team members will be working better together to answer emails from your customers, suppliers, vendors, and others.