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How to share an Outlook Contact folder

Sometimes it's useful to allow others access to a particular contacts folder in your account, for example if it's a collection of contact addresses for a particular project or research group.   It's inefficient and troublesome for all members of the group to keep their own collection of contacts for the same group, and it may be better if one person in your group kept a definitive collection of shareable contacts.

Note that only users of the Sussex Exchange mail system can share contacts folders.

Sharing a contacts folder with specific people

This method assumes you are using Outlook 2013, but the procedure is almost identical in Outlook 2010 except for step 1.

  1. In Outlook's Navigation Pane (where your folders are listed), click on the People icon at bottom left:

    Outlook 2013 Contacts icon

    If you're using Outlook 2010, click on Contacts near the bottom left.

  2. Under My Contacts, click on the contacts folder that you want to share.
  3. Click to select the Home menu tab (at top left).
  4. In the Share group in the tool ribbon, click on the Share Contacts tool button.  This opens a sharing invitation message window.
  5. Now you need to select names for sharing.
    You can either click in the To: box and type the name of the person, if necessary using the Check Names tool button to find the correct person, or you can click on the To: button itself to open up a search window to find the person you want, just as when finding a person whom you want to email.
    Repeat this step as necessary if you want to share with more than one person.
  6. When you have selected all the persons required, you can type a short message giving any extra information to the people who will receive this invitation.
  7. If you want to allow the sharers to modify items in the shared contacts folder, click the box labelled Recipient can add, edit and delete items in this contacts folderLeave the box unticked if you do not want to allow others to make changes to the folder.
  8. Click on Send to send this invitation.  A dialogue box should appear asking you to confirm the sharing invitation: click on Yes to confirm.
  9. The persons receiving your invitation message will see a link above the message inviting them to Open this contacts folder which they should click.   Once they have done this, the shared folder will appear in the Contacts list.  It will be labelled with your name as the owner of the folder.

Contacts folders are indicated with different icons in your Contacts list:

Outlook 2010: unshared contacts folder indicates a contacts folder in your account that isn't being shared

Outlook 2010: shared contacts folder indicates a shared contacts folder in your account

Outlook 2010: shared contacts folder indicates a shared contacts folder in another account

Revoking the sharing of a contacts folder

Follow the insstructions below if you want to remove a person from the list of people who can access the shared contacts folder.

  1. In Outlook's Navigation Pane (where your folders are listed), click on Contacts near the bottom left to open the Contacts panel.
  2. Under My Contacts, click on the contacts folder for which you want to change access.
  3. Click on the Folder menu tab (at the top of the Outlook window).
  4. In the toolbar near the top, click on the Folder Permissions tool button.
  5. In the Properties box, in the Permissions section, look for the name of the person to be removed from the list of sharers, and click on the name to select it.
    Note that the list will already contain Default and Anonymous, with None as the permission level; leave these in place.
  6. Click on the Remove button to remove the selected person from the list.
    Or, if you wish you can change the Permission Level for that person (for example, you might want to change them from Editor to Reviewer if you had previously given them access to modify the shared contacts folder).
    Repeat steps 5 and 6 for any other person whom you wish to revoke sharing.
  7. Click on OK when done.


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This is question number 2624, which appears in the following categories:

Created by Andy Clews on 16 January 2014 and last updated by Richard Byrom-Colburn on 21 October 2016