Blog Archives

5 reasons why email is still king for business communication


The last few years have seen an explosion in the number of tools available for us to communicate not only at a consumer level, but also in the context of our workplace both internally within companies and externally between companies.

I primarily work with Microsoft technologies, but even within that small sphere the options are plentiful:

  • Email
  • Yammer
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Skype for Business
  • Skype
  • Office 365 Groups
  • LinkedIn

Outside of the Microsoft world it’s not uncommon to encounter these popular options as well:

  • Facebook
  • Slack
  • Google Hangouts
  • Twitter

I’m actually a fan and regular user of many of these other than email. I use Microsoft Teams internally quite heavily, along with Yammer for cross company communication and Twitter for more widespread public broadcast and consumption. I’m also not unknown for shooting off a quick message on Skype or sharing something or reaching out to someone on LinkedIn.

I think each of these messaging platforms has a particular area in which it shines but other areas that let it down (which is why many of us use multiple platforms). Much has been said about what platform to use for the different types of communication and what you are trying to achieve:

I’m still of the opinion that while email is by far the oldest of the communication/messaging platforms it is still the backbone of business communication and this is for some key reasons that I don’t see changing in a hurry (mainly due to commercial interests!)

1 – People want to feel in control

outlook-rules-stay-organised-cameron-dwyer.pngIts natural for people to want to be in control, to be in their comfort zone. If we take a mature rich email client such as Outlook, the user has many ways in which they can organise, arrange and maintain their communication that makes sense to them and allows them to feel in control. Since the email that resides in the users mailbox is not shared, the user has ownership (and hence a sense of control) over the email and is free to manage it without affecting others. Outlook has the following features that allow a user to gain control and stay on top of email communications:

  • Folders – Users can create a folder structure that makes sense to them for organising email. They are not locked in to only viewing messages in the order and “buckets” it’s presented to them in, which isn’t the case for many other platforms where it’s usually a case of one shared view that has to fit everyone.
  • Categories – Users are free to create and assign categories to emails to assist with later retrieval or to mark that they need to do something in response to the email
  • Followup actions with reminders – Emails can be flagged for followup at a specific date/time because often communication is requested something of us or requires a reply or some action in return.
  • Rules – Users can create and apply complex rules to assist with organising emails

In contrast, most other message system provide rigid ways of viewing messages and unless requests are dealt with in a short time frame, they are easily and quickly lost in the noise. The users have very limited options for organising the messages in a way that suits them.

2 – People want to protect themselves and their data

With email, the sending party and the receiving party both have a copy of the email that they can govern according to their information management policies. This becomes particularly important when that email contains information that needs to be treated as a record, or if important information is stored as an attachment.

The attachments on an email can be both an advantage to email and it’s Achilles heal. Too often people send around a document (that is a work in progress) and you end up with no version control and people working on multiple different copies of it. A much better scenario is to have the file stored in a central system (e.g. SharePoint or OneDrive) and share out a link to the file so everyone can work on the same file. Once the file is completed though, and especially if it is an important document or deliverable to an external company – that document is of high importance as a record to both parties. By sending the file via email both parties have their own copy to retain for their records. Imagine if you were issued with a project scope document which you agree to (which is stored in the sending companies Document Management system) – you view and read the document via a link into their system. Now it comes time to deliver the project and they fall short on delivering to the agreed scope. You go back to look at that project scope document only to find you no longer have access! Not a situation many businesses would allow themselves to get into. So while external sharing works during the collaboration process, I don’t think it would satisfy the document management or records management requirements of both sides involved.

3 – People want to get the job done, not think about which tool to use

social-media-mess-cameron-dwyer.pngYou can rely on anyone you want to communicate with having an email address. The same can’t be said for any of the other platforms. Unless you communicate with someone regularly, you probably have no idea what messaging platforms they use, and it’s a large burden to put on someone to force them to create an account and join up to a messaging platform or social network just so you can communicate with them.

Knowing that not everyone is going to be on the same messaging platform implicitly means that this is not going to scale and you are either going to have to use multiple messaging platforms or fall back to a common platform that everyone has at times – which is email.

4 – People want simplicity and their time back

scoail-notifications-overwhelming-cameron-dwyer.pngMost people I speak to would love to have more time in their day. They struggle to process all the information that is thrown in their direction and to stay on top of what they need to action and respond to. Take myself, I get messages and information coming at me from email, Yammer, LinkedIn, Teams, Facebook, Twitter (and I’m sure their are others). If I had all the time in the world I would proactively go to my email client, Yammer app, LinkedIn app, Teams app, Facebook app and Twitter app to check those unread notifications and unread messages in feeds. This works if you’ve got time to “do the rounds” constantly and respond immediately, but that’s rarely the reality. What I find happens with most people (myself included) is that for each of the messaging platforms I go into the settings and I get it to notify me of any direct messages by sending me an email, and maybe get it to send a summary email every day/week of the top things I’ve missed (if the platform supports this). Now I just have to monitor my email inbox and I’m not going to miss anything important (like a direct message to me) and I have a rich toolkit to set followup flags, categories and reminders. If I’ve got time then I might go to the individual apps and use their beautiful interfaces to stay on top of things, but the majority of the time I’m content that anything important will come to me in my inbox.

5 – People don’t want to be locked in

locked-in-cameron-dwyer.pngThis I feel is probably the biggest issue underpinning the success of the current wave of messaging platforms. They are backed by companies that want to lock you in to using their service. This makes sense, at the end of the day they are running a business! This means it is in their best interest to behave in the following way:

  • Once you have your data stored with them, make it hard for you to take it and leave
  • Closed to members only – they want you to get the people you are communicating with to “join” their platform thus trying to steal users from their competitors and win more market share
  • Don’t integrate with other messaging platforms – how great would it be if a Facebook user could send a message to a Twitter user or Teams user? One standard for messaging between platforms? Great I don’t have to join a heap of different providers and setup all these accounts, sounds wonderful; But what do these companies stand to make out of that? It’s not going to increase their active user count.

To the contrary, no company “owns” email. A lot of companies provide email services, but the email protocol is well known and these system will all happily talk to each other and we enjoy an email environment where we can send a message to someone else without having to consider the email provider they are using. It is usually possible to export email and take it with you should you want to change email providers or systems. This type of export or change of provider just doesn’t make sense in most modern messaging platforms.

For these reasons, if I were forced to only keep one messaging platform and had to throw away the others, email is the one that would stay.

I recently spoke with Jeremy Thake in an interview that discussed the place of email in the Microsoft ecosystem that discusses these topics and more.

Outlook 2016 – Use Case of Saving a File and Attaching to a new Email

This may just be the smallest and yet most appreciated new features of Outlook 2016. The attach file ribbon button has a dropdown that lets you select recent files saved from any other application. Sounds ridiculously simple, but in practice it is a real time saver.

Here’s the use case. I’m working on a file or I’m reading a file I’ve just downloaded from the internet and I want to send it to someone on an email.

Simply compose a new email and on the Attach File button dropdown the file will be the most recent file in the list. No need to even think about where it is saved, very slick.


More out-of-the-box ways to get Email into SharePoint (2013 and Office 365)

This is a continuation of an article I wrote back at the beginning of 2012 Five out-of-the-box ways to get Email into SharePoint. Since then we have seen the launch of SharePoint 2013 and also more widespread adoption of Office 365 (SharePoint Online). These more recent versions of SharePoint have introduced new ways of getting email into SharePoint and that’s what we will explore in the article.

Option 6 – Site Mailboxes

The Site Mailbox concept introduced in SharePoint 2013 promised a lot and sounded like it could be the primary option to go for when trying to integrate email and SharePoint. Rather than reproduce existing content here’s an article I wrote dedicated to SharePoint 2013 Site Mailboxes.


  • Site Mailboxes provide a consolidated view of site content stored within SharePoint and Exchange from within Microsoft Outlook
  • Minimal change with a familiar drag & drop process to the left navigation of Outlook. Allowing the capture of emails or email attachments into SharePoint and Exchange
  • Convenient access to SharePoint content from within Microsoft Outlook using a familiar metaphor of folders on the left navigation of Outlook.
  • Ability to include a Site Mailbox as an email recipient (e.g. cc’d) for saving emails into a Site Mailbox – Inbox
  • Ability to ‘Forward’ a link to a document within a Site Mailbox or drag/drop multiple documents into an email message.
  • Lifecycle Retention policies can be applied at a Site Mailbox level behind the scenes
    Management and Compliance: Site Mailboxes can be part of eDiscovery Search Scopes.
  • Minimal change for the end users and therefore greater user adoption and promotion of enterprise content management best practices
  • Less reliance on the IT Department once the SharePoint and Exchange environment have been configured for Site Mailboxes
  • More efficient means to support the business with records management initiatives
  • Streamlined provisioning and deployment of Site Mailboxes to end users based on security permissions within a SharePoint Site
  • Email content is retained within Microsoft Exchange while documents are retained within SharePoint


  • Setting up the environment to support Site Mailboxes involves installing and configuring software on both the Exchange and SharePoint servers and setting up trust relationships and having all communication over SSL.
  • Probably the biggest drawback is that you are not actually getting email into SharePoint. The email is stored in Exchange. This means you can’t treat it as a SharePoint object and include it as part of a business process. E.g. include it a part of a workflow, add metadata columns to email and build a SharePoint business process around it. I will add quickly that you can drag/drop email directly to a Document Library and this will get the email into SharePoint as an msg file.
  • You must be running SharePoint 2013, Exchange 2013 and Outlook 2013 to get access to Site Mailbox functionality
  • Very limited features on drag/drop of attachments to SharePoint document libraries – basically no support for metadata of any kind (no content type selection, no columns to complete, no validation of mandatory column, can’t rename files on upload, no support for versioning)
  • Viewing of SharePoint content is very limited. You are provided more with a file type view of content rather than a SharePoint view. You can’t show SharePoint columns in the Outlook view, you just get the filename, last modified, size, and checkout status.
  • Maximum of 10 Site Mailboxes can be added to Outlook


Further reading


Option 7 – Drag/Drop to SharePoint via Desktop

SharePoint 2013 provided the new capability of being able to drag and drop files from your computer directly into a SharePoint document library open in a browser window. Combine this with the ability to turn Outlook messages into msg files by dragging them of of Outlook onto the desktop and we have a fairly simple 2 step process.

Step 1: Drag email from Outlook and drop to the desktop


Step 2: Drag email from the desktop and drop into SharePoint


Thanks goes to Liz who posted a comment on this blog letting me know of this technique.


  • The email is stored in msg format so it can be opened back up in Outlook without loss of data or email integrity.
  • Once your windows are setup for source (Outlook) and destination (SharePoint) the drag drop is quite simple
  • No configuration or setup required and will work with any SharePoint 2013 document library
  • Can move multiple email at once
  • Can move attachments off email to SharePoint using same technique
  • Can save the the root of the SharePoint library or to a subfolder (just have the library open to the folder before the drag drop)
  • Will work with older versions of Outlook
  • Transfer happens in the background (SharePoint web browser provides progress bar)


  • Getting the Outlook and SharePoint windows accessible and seeing the desktop behind them to be able to execute the drag drop can be a bit fiddly so lends itself more to doing the transfers in batches rather than just ad-hoc when new email arrives.
  • No email attributes get captured/promoted to SharePoint columns


Further Reading


Option 8 – Save or Drag/Drop to a OneDrive Synced Location

OneDrive for Business is essentially a synchronization tool that lets you take a copy of a SharePoint library locally onto your machine. The document library appears in Windows Explorer as a folder with the documents appearing as files within the folder. Subfolders within a library are also supported. The nice thing about OneDrive is that it’s a 2 way sync. Any additional files you add to the local sync folder will get transferred up to SharePoint.

Step 1: Browse to your library in SharePoint and click on the sync button to have the SharePoint library sync’d via OneDrive to your local machine.


After the sync has completed the SharePoint library (and it’s content including any folder structure) is now represented as a folder structure that you can easily get to through Windows Explorer.


Step 2: You can now open an Email in Outlook and choose to Save As and choose the OneDrive local folder as the save location. Alternatively you can open the OneDrive folder in Windows Explorer and drag/drop multiple emails directly from Outlook to the OneDrive folder. OneDrive will automatically upload these emails to SharePoint in the background.


    • The email is stored in msg format so it can be opened back up in Outlook without loss of data or email integrity.
      • Can move multiple email at once
      • Can move attachments off email to SharePoint using same technique
      • Can save the the root of the SharePoint library or to a subfolder (just have the library open to the folder before the drag drop)
      • Transfer happens in the background


  • Whole library must be synced locally which may mean a lot of files/data on the local machine that you don’t need or want
  • Using email Save As is tedious, drag and drop to OneDrive open in Explorer window is much nicer but it’s fiddly to get the windows visible to achieve the drag/drop so probably works better transferring in batches rather than as new email arrives.
  • No email attributes get captured/promoted to SharePoint columns


Further Reading

Integrating Outlook Web Access (OWA) and SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 had a series of Web Parts dedicated to surfacing and interacting with an Exchange mail account directly from a page in SharePoint.

Overview of the Outlook Web Access Web Parts (for SharePoint 2007 and 2010)

If you are not familiar with the functionality here’s a quick overview (this info is taken from the official Microsoft help documentation

There are five Outlook Web Access Web Parts. These can be used with Microsoft Exchange Server version 2003 to 2007:

  • My Calendar
  • My Contacts
  • My Tasks
  • My Inbox
  • My Mail Folder

These Web Parts are most useful for your My Site, because only you (or someone who can log into your Exchange e-mail account) will be able to see the information from your folders. If you put one of these Web Parts on a shared site, other users will see the Outlook Web Access logon screen in the Web Part.

My Inbox Web Part on My Site

Each Web Part displays the information from a folder in your email account, so you can choose the information you want to show on your site. The Web Parts make it easy to show specific information, such as tasks, without showing all of your Outlook information. If you want to have full Outlook functionality on your SharePoint site, you can use a Page View Web Part linked to the URL for your Outlook Web Access server.

All of the Outlook Web Access Web Parts provide two-way communication with your Exchange Server e-mail account: Changes you make in a Web Part appear in Outlook.

What’s the Story with OWA integration in SharePoint 2013?

I was somewhat surprised when SharePoint 2013 arrived and all the Outlook Web Access web parts were missing. Had this been an oversight by Microsoft and they would reappear again in a cumulative update for SharePoint? It appears not.

On further digging Microsoft actually dropped support for the OWA web parts (in SharePoint 2010) if your mail was hosted in Exchange Online (Office 365). From the Exchange Online Service Description document:

Exchange Online supports Outlook Web App Web Parts via the PageViewer control in Microsoft SharePoint Online and Microsoft SharePoint Server, or via manually configured URLs. Built-in SharePoint OWA Web Part controls will not work against Exchange Online

The statement above alludes to an alternate method using the Page Viewer control (which to be honest I’d prefer to the OWA web parts which didn’t have the full functionality of the OWA interface). The idea behind using the Page Viewer web part is that OWA is just a web interface to your Exchange account served up at known URLs. So just wrap these in a iframe (Page Viewer web part) and you will have your full OWA interface embedded inside a SharePoint page. For a step by step guide of how to setup the Page View control to connect to Exchange Online (OWA) take a look at this article by Jesper_Osgaard.

So fast forward to SharePoint 2013, can we still use the Page Viewer web part technique? My experience so far has yielded mixed results.

More often than not the Page Viewer technique gets tripped up with security issues. I think the underlying issue is that an Internet Explorer session cannot handle authenticating with multiple domains at the same time and it just so happens SharePoint Online and Exchange Online reside in different domains.

This isn’t to say it flat out doesn’t work. Here’s a screenshot to prove it (no smoke and mirrors or Photoshop involved I promise). But I just didn’t find it stable enough to recommend it as a viable solution.



On reflection it would seem that Microsoft wasn’t able to iron out the complexities of integrating OWA content and SharePoint content in the same Internet Explorer session. If they could, then surely that would have provided better integration for the native SharePoint Site Mailboxes that were introduced in SharePoint 2013 (Exchange 2013). When a SharePoint Site Mailbox is provisioned, a mailbox is created in Exchange (for the SharePoint site) and a link is placed on the left navigation of the SharePoint site. When you click on the link you don’t get the mailbox content embedded in the SharePoint page (as you might expect and have hoped for!). Instead it launches a new Internet Explorer window (new IE session that can authenticate with a different domain) and opens the OWA URL directly to the mailbox. There’s essential no integration with the SharePoint UI other than a URL link.


Implementing a simple SharePoint issue tracking system with cc: style notification emails when items are updated

The scenario

This article describes how to setup a SharePoint list so that each item in the list has a column to allow selection of multiple people to be notified initially when the item is created and also every time the item is subsequently updated or edited.

The scenario proposed to me recently went along these lines:

Do you know if there’s a way to add multiple people’s name/email to an item in a Sharepoint List? So maybe we’re tracking issues, and when the issue record is created, we want to tie 5-6 others to the record so they can be involved/aware in the updating of that record and/or the communications related to it…like a cc: list.

Allow me to embellish the requirements and scenario a little so we know the problem at hand…

We have a implemented a simple Helpdesk issue tracking system in SharePoint.

  • The issues themselves are tracked as a single item in a SharePoint list
  • A new list item is created for each issue
  • Issues are primarily generated from an email received by one of the Helpdesk staff
  • Often we want to keep multiple users informed of a particular issue when it is created and as it progresses
  • We want a no code solution

Note: before we jump into the solution, the crux of the article is about achieving the cc: style notifications. I’m not advocating this as a recommended design for a Helpdesk system.


The solution

My first thoughts on this one was to simply add a multi-value Person/Group column to the list called “Notification List”, then create a view and set the filter on the view to where “Notification List” is equal to [Me]. Here’s one of many articles on how to use the [Me] filter. This works great and when you go to the view you just see the items where you are in the “Notification List”. I then thought it would be a simple task to create a SharePoint Alert on this list so that whenever someone creates or modifies an item in this list an alert notification email would get sent out. This all works fabulously if there is only ONE person in the “Notification List” column. As soon as you get multiple users in the “Notification List” column, the alerts just do not get triggered. The view filter works fine and shows the correct items when single or multiple names are entered, but it seems alerts play by a different set of rules.

Time for a different approach, enter workflows. Can we achieve a simple (no code) workflow to send the emails out? Sure we can. Here’s how it is done.

First create a custom list called “Issues”


Now add a people & groups column called “Notification List”. Ensure is accepts multiple values and I’m going to just allow people (not groups) to be selected.



While I’m creating columns I’ll create a few more just to make the scenario a little more realistic. I’ve added Description of Problem, Status, and Assigned To columns. Now when I create a new item in SharePoint my new form looks like this:



So now to the meat of our problem, how do we get SharePoint to send an email to everyone on the notification list when the item is initially saved, and then every time the item is edited?

We are going to have to create a workflow using SharePoint Designer. So let’s fire up SharePoint Designer and connect to the site that contains our list. Then select “Lists and Libraries” from the left navigation.


Open the Issues list and select List Workflow from the ribbon


Now provide a name and description for the workflow


Now add the “Send an Email” action from the Action ribbon button


Now click the Email these users link to define the email message.

  • Click on the address book picker on the To:
  • Select Workflow Lookup for a User…
  • Set Data source to “Current Item”
  • Set Field from source to “Notification List”
  • Set Return field as “Email Addresses, Semicolon delimited”


Now you can specify a subject (using the function builder to include the Title of the issue) and the email body, again you can use columns from the issue item and include a hyperlink directly to the item.


Return to the workflow information page and set the triggers to automatically start this workflow when an item is created or changed.


All that’s left is it Save and Publish the workflow



The result

We can now create a new item in SharePoint specifying some users on the Notification List.


When we save the item, people on the Notification List will automatically receive an email as shown below.



Now for the gold plating

Remember when we set the scenario that most issues are raised by an email being sent to a Helpdesk staff member (yes they can’t just create them in this list themselves!). What we really want is that email message (and any attachments it has) stored on the issue item as an attachment. This would be a bit tedious for someone to save the email as a file and then manually attach to the new SharePoint item. Enter OnePlaceMail (the Express edition is a free add-on to Outlook). Simply install OnePlaceMail on the Helpdesk users machine that has Outlook. You can now ‘bookmark’ the Issue list and it is available (yes the whole SharePoint list with full functionality) directly in Outlook just like it is an Outlook folder.



What is really awesome about this solution is when an email comes in that you need to create a new issue item for, you simply drag and drop the email to the Issues folder in Outlook and OnePlaceMail performs it’s magic and let’s you complete all the columns without leaving Outlook – no need to even open SharePoint in a browser!


The item is now created in SharePoint, the email message is stored as an .msg file attachment, all column values are set and notification emails have been sent out. You can even just click on the Issues folder in Outlook (that we dragged dropped the email to) to see it in SharePoint.



Further Reading (in response to comments on this post)

In response to Eugene’s comment here’s how to achieve inserting a URL link to the SharePoint item in the body of the email message that gets sent out by the workflow.

Please be aware that there is a fundamental different between SharePoint lists and SharePoint document libraries in the format (or syntax) of the URL required.

I’ll first go through creating a link to an item in a document library and then to an item in a list.

Insert URL Link to an Item in a SharePoint Document Library

Use the ‘insert hyperlink’ button to create the link in the body of the email


Provide the user friendly text to display such as ‘Open Item’


To build the address use the Fx button as we need to use some properties from the item currently the workflow is running on.

Set Data source to Current Item

Set Field from source to Encoded Absolute URL (this gives us the most portable URL that includes the server name and protocol with any special characters encoded which gives the URL the best chance of surviving being sent through email servers and arriving at the other end intact)


The hyperlink should now have an address of [%Current Item:Encoded Absolute URL%]


Click OK and your hyperlink to the item in SharePoint is done



Insert URL Link to an Item in a SharePoint List

You would expect the above technique would also work for list items but unfortunately it does not. It leaves you with a pretty useless URL in this format: http://server/site/Lists/listname/1_.000

The URL format that you need to link to a list item is:

http://server/site/lists/listname/DispForm.aspx?ID=xxxx (where xxx is the ID of your list item)

The simplest way to achieve this format is to supply the fixed portion of the URL and pull the ID portion dynamically. Your Hyperlink address would be something like this:


How HP are using OnePlaceMail to complete the HP TRIM/SharePoint integration story

hp-trim-sharepoint-integration-email-recordsIn a recent blog post Dan Theobald (Business Analyst, HP Information Management team) details the use case of OnePlaceMail in a SharePoint/HP TRIM environment for achieving records management of email records.

Dan continues to explain in detail how HP are internally using OnePlaceMail in a collaborative Help Desk solution built on SharePoint. In this solution OnePlaceMail delivers the front line interface to Help Desk personnel for capturing initial Help Desk tickets, follow up correspondence and also provides access to the information stored in the Help Desk system (SharePoint) directly from within Outlook.

It’s great to hear of these real world scenarios where OnePlaceMail is adding real value, and users are compelled enough to blog about their great experiences with the product! It drives us to make it even better.

Learn more about OnePlaceMail



SharePoint Document Sets – Saving emails & documents

This new video is a great starting point for getting the most out of OnePlaceMail if you are looking to store related Email and Documents in Documents Sets in SharePoint 2010.

The video shows SharePoint 2010 Documents Sets being used as a container to store email messages and documents for projects/tasks. The screencast shows interacting with Document Sets from within Microsoft Outlook.

Interacting with Document Sets from within Microsoft Outlook

Watch more OnePlaceMail videos on YouTube

Five out-of-the-box ways to get Email into SharePoint

One question I’ve been asked countless times is the native integration options of Outlook/Exchange and SharePoint in order to save or transfer email and have it stored in SharePoint.

Before I jump into the different integration options available it is important to consider that once you’ve got the email in SharePoint how easy is it to get access to? and have we lost any information in the process? Let’s face it, if we can get the email into SharePoint but can’t access it again easily what have we achieved? Each of the methods I’ll discuss have implications on how easy is it to access the saved email and how much of the email (including it’s attributes) can be accessed after it has been transferred to SharePoint.

1. Manually Save an email message to SharePoint


Treat the email as a file just like any other file that you would upload to SharePoint.

  • In Outlook open an email then select File | Save As…
  • Choose a format from the ‘Save as type’ drop down. I recommend saving it in Outlook Message Format (.msg)
  • image
  • Save the email (msg file) to a local drive
  • Now browse to the SharePoint list/library through the web browser and upload the file through the native SharePoint UI.


  • Upload occurs through native SharePoint UI so you will have the opportunity to set content type, enter/select column values, apply validation, trigger custom event handlers etc
  • The email is stored in msg format so it can be opened back up in Outlook without loss of data or email integrity.
  • You are left with the item open in the SharePoint UI so you can continue working on it (e.g. start a workflow)


  • Very time consuming and laborious
  • The entire process has to be repeated for each email, can’t do multiple at once
  • No email attributes get prompted to SharePoint columns

2. Email enable a SharePoint List or Library


Selected SharePoint lists & libraries can be enabled to receive incoming email on an email address that is unique to the list/library. Users can then include the email address of the SharePoint list with the recipients of an email to have the email stored in SharePoint.

Great post from Joel Olsen for more detail on email enabled lists/libraries (SP2007)


  • Quick and simple method for the user to get the email into SharePoint
  • From a governance point of view only selected lists/libraries can be configured to accept incoming email


  • Considerable administration overhead to initially setup and configure
  • Users have to know which email addresses correspond to which lists/libraries
  • Constant admin overhead to enable new lists/libraries and setup email addresses and broadcast out to the user base
  • No email attributes get prompted to SharePoint columns
  • Attachments and email are stored as separate items in SharePoint
  • User cannot get the original email into SharePoint after the fact. That is, if a user receives an email they can forward it to the SharePoint list but it is the forwarded email that gets stored, not the original email as it was received by the user.
  • Email is stored in .eml format so it cannot be easily opened back up in Outlook and viewed/worked on with full integrity
  • At the time of writing, email enabled lists/libraries are not supported in BPOS or Office 365 / SharePoint Online

Further reading

Configure incoming e-mail (SharePoint Server 2010)

Configuring incoming email in SharePoint 2010 with Exchange – Step by Step Guide

Enable and configure e-mail support for a list or library (SharePoint 2007/WSS 3.0)

3. Map a drive to a SharePoint Library


It’s possible to map a network drive (or create a shortcut to a network location) to provide access to the content of a SharePoint library in Windows Explorer much like it is just another directory structure on a file server.

For example, I have a library located at http://vs-server82/subsite/Email


I can map a drive to \\vs-server82\subsite1\email

You can also just bring up the run command and enter the location in directly \\vs-server82\subsite1\email

Either of these techniques should result in Windows Explorer displaying the contents of the library


You can now drag and drop email messages from Outlook into the Windows Explorer window and the files will be saved to SharePoint.



  • If you are trying to do a simplistic transfer of multiple emails from Outlook to a single SharePoint library with no setting of SharePoint column values than this might be sufficient. I’d see it more as an ad-hoc or one-off technique to get you out of trouble rather than a technique to rely on day-in-day out.
  • Email is saved in .msg format


  • Only works for libraries (you can see lists, but due to the way list items and there attachments are stored it’s not really useable)
  • Provides a very rudimentary interface to SharePoint and you may encounter problems with SharePoint specific functionality in some libraries (such as check in, check out, validation)
  • No SharePoint column values set
  • I’ve come across several discussion threads that warn against modifying SharePoint content accessed through this technique (see further reading links below)
  • Allowing (or promoting the use of this technique) may circumvent controls that have been put in place in SharePoint for data validation and document management

Further reading

4. Use the SharePoint WebDav View


In the SharePoint 2010 Library ribbon there is an option to ’Open with Explorer’.


This will open Window Explorer and display the contents of the current SharePoint library in an almost identical way the the previous technique of using a mapped drive. Again you can drag and drop email from Outlook into the Explorer Window.


  • Similar to the previous technique but I would recommend this over the previous technique as it is using the WebDav standard for communicating with SharePoint
  • Email saved in .msg format


  • WebDav only goes so far, it’s a standard that existed long before SharePoint so as you would expect it only supports a very basic subset of SharePoint functionality
  • No SharePoint column values set
  • Known issues in an environment with a load balancer
  • Allowing (or promoting the use of this technique) may circumvent controls that have been put in place in SharePoint for data validation and document management

Further reading

5. Use a Discussion Forum


It is possible to connect a SharePoint discussion board to Outlook to obtain the ability to drag/drop email to the discussion board.

    • Ensure incoming email is enabled on your farm
    • Create a discussion board in SharePoint


  • From within SharePoint, open the discussion board you just created and click on Connect to Outlook in the ribbon.


  • The discussion board will now appear in Outlook under ‘SharePoint Lists’


    • You can now drag and drop emails to the discussion board from within Outlook, and they will be copied across to SharePoint
    • You can view the contents of the discussion in Outlook (emails are converted to posts). One gotcha is that if you have automatic signatures setup then the post that is created will have your signature added to it (just as though you forwarded the original email) – see screenshot below. I’m sure with some tinkering you could probably come up with a solution for this.



  • Simple drag/drop method for the user to get the email into SharePoint
  • User self-service (not ongoing administration required to setup/maintain)
  • Discussion board content visible from Outlook or SharePoint


  • Email is not stored in .msg file format
  • No SharePoint column values set
  • Integrity of the email message is not preserved (that is you can never open it back up in Outlook as an email)

Further reading


updated-revised-new-content-cameron-dwyer-sharepoint-office365-microsoftUPDATED: There’s now more options for SharePoint 2013 and Office 365

If you are using SharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365 (SharePoint Online) there are more options available to you which are covered in the following article More out-of-the-box ways to get Email into SharePoint (2013 and Office 365)


Wrap up

If one of the techniques above fits your requirement then you are in luck and will be able to achieve Outlook/SharePoint integration natively. If you require more advanced functionality (such as automatic capture of email attributes to SharePoint columns, ability for user to tag or enter column values during save etc) then you are looking at 3rd party products or custom development. If you find yourself at this stage I recommend taking a look at OnePlaceMail. The Express Edition of OnePlaceMail is entirely free (no trial or evaluation period) and can be used by up to 25 users within a company. OnePlaceMail provides a far superior integration between Outlook and SharePoint/Office 365 than any of the native options and is built to address the lack (overcome the ‘cons’) of native integration options.

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