Accessing Other Mailboxes in OWA

Here’s a question a student recently asked me:
Is there a tool to “administratively” open another users mailbox to search through their inbox and other various folders for things?

In our world of Domino/Notes, the administrator could simply open the user’s ‘NSF’ file on the server and have complete access to the whole lot. But each user’s mailbox was a complete database file in that world.

I do know how to set my user account in Outlook to open another user’s mailbox with the account setting Advanced tab, but I was wondering if there was an admin ‘sneaky’ way to do such a thing without having to reconfigure my Outlook client every time.”

I’d suggest looking at the Outlook Web Access (OWA) Premium interface.
Here are two ways. First, using the OWA interface which requires that you’re logged on in Premium (not Light) mode. Second, we’ll take a look at a URL technique.
When you’re logged on to OWA with your regular credentials to your mailbox, you can simply navigate to the OWA toolbar between the Options and Log Off. Do you see your name there? It should have a triangle to the right. Tap on your name to open the “Open Other Mailbox” dialog. You should be able to type in the name of another mailbox you want to open.
Ah yes, there’s something you should know…
Before you’ll be able to access someone else’s mailbox, you’ll need to have access to it according to Exchange Server 2007 permissions. Such permissions can be granted via the Exchange Management Console (EMC) assuming you have Service Pack 1 (SP1) or later. With any version of E2K7 these permissions can also be granted using the Exchange Management Shell (EMS) cmdlet Add-MailboxPermission. Let me know if you need details on that.
With the proper permissions, using OWA to access the other mailboxes should be a lot easier than adding them into Microsoft Office’s “native” Outlook 2007.
Another way to get to someone else’s mailbox is to use their full email address in the URL after the “owa” folder, such as:
https://mail.myorg.net/owa/alex.wombat@myorg.net
Note to those people who are used to using only the localpart alias (e.g. alex.wombat) of the email address in Exchange 2003 – the format for specifying the mailbox in OWA 2007 is different. It’s best to use the full email address now.
Also, with this URL technique you can focus on a specific folder of that user’s mailbox.  For example:
https://mail.myorg.net/owa/alex.wombat@myorg.net/?cmd=contents&module=inbox
That example would focus on Alex Wombat’s Inbox, but by simply using the folder name (with %20 instead of spaces for spacey folder names) after the “module=” part of the URL you can choose another folder.
-Brad Werner
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1 comment

  1. Qaier Reply

    Nice Tip, never noticed that.