How To Create a Company Shared Contacts List or Calendar in Office 365

Wouldn't it be perfect if your entire company could share a contact list of clients or prospects? It's easy with Office 365! The following steps explain how to create a shared contact list in Office 365 that will be accessible to any of your staff members with an Office 365 Mailbox. If you've been looking for someone to manage issues like this for you, INFINIT offers CompleteCare+ Office 365. Whether it's taking care of your shared contacts list, building your SharePoint site, or teaching you how to conduct online meetings, INFINIT can take care of all your day-to-day Office 365 tasks. Contact us to learn more.

Step 1. Create a Public Folder Mailbox

Go to the Exchange Admin Center by clicking "Admin", then select "Exchange" from the drop down.

NOTE: To access the Exchange Admin Center in Small Business Office 365, Microsoft offers this workaround:
1. Login to the Office 365 Admin Center with your admin account.
2. Select the Outlook button on the top.
3. Change the URL from to

On the left hand side, navigate to Public Folders and click the "Plus" button. Enter the name you desire for your new mailbox.

Step 2. Create the Root Public Folder

Still in the Exchange Admin Center, click Public Folders at the top of the screen and click the "Plus" icon to create your new folder. Give the folder a name, like "My Business Public Folder".

Now you'll want to assign permissions to your root folder. Under "Folder Permissions" click "Manage". Keep everyone as "Default" except your Administrators, which should be set to Owner. Do this by simply adding your administrators and giving them Owner permissions. Don't forget to save changes.

Step 3. Create the Shared Contacts Public Folder

Now you're ready to create the Contacts folder using Microsoft Outlook. Open Outlook and navigate to the folders list.

You should see the Public Folders section. If you do not see the public folders section check that you have assigned the correct permissions from Step 2.

NOTE: If you've just created the public folder mailbox and root public folder it may take a few hours for the public folders to appear.

Expand your Public Folder and All Public Folders until you see the root public folder you created in Step 2. Right Click on the root public folder and click "New Folder" to create a Shared Contact folder. Then right click on the new folder and click "Properties". Now you can set permissions for who can view or modify contacts.

Default are users within your company. If you set the permissions to "Author", they can create and edit their own contacts. Generally Anonymous should be set to None, as it refers to users outside your company.

Step 4. Add Contacts Folder to Outlook

Each user will need to add the new contacts folder to their Outlook favorites in a few easy clicks. First, open Outlook, navigate to the folders list.

NOTE: If you've just created the public folder mailbox and root public folder it may take a few hours for the public folders to appear.

Expand your Public Folders and All Public Folders until you see the new contacts public folder. Right click the contacts folder and click "Add to Favorites".

Now any user can view the Shared Contacts in their address book list when they create a new email message.


Watch this brief Microsoft tutorial to learn more about connecting Office 365 to Outlook.

Video: M1

Want to share your Office 365 calendar? Watch this!

Video: Share or publish your calendar

Still need some help? Contact INFINIT to sign up for CompleteCare+ Office 365.



            • Thanks for the info. However I am missing something here, how do we actually get the contacts in to the new public folder (I have created a new public folder no problem)?


            • InfinIT Consulting

              Hello Simon,

              Great question! There are two ways that you can import contacts into a Public Folder.

              The first way is to simply drag and drop them in. If you go to your contacts in Outlook, on the left hand menu pane you will see My Contacts, which is a list a list of contacts attached to your Office 365 .ost file. Below these contacts, you should see another header called Other Contacts. This Other Contacts group should list your public folder there. You can simply drag and drop contacts from your personal contact list on to the Public Folder and your contacts should copy over.

              If you would like to bulk add an entire group of contacts, you can export that contact group out of Outlook and then Import it back in and specify your Public Folder as the import destination. This would be the most efficient way to bring over a large group of contacts.

              –Chris McFarlane


          • Hi, nice tutorial. Do you have anything about Global Address Listing, such as how to import contacts via csv file?


          • InfinIT Consulting

            We wrote a step by step guide to importing your contacts into Office 365 with a .csv that you can read here: Bulk Import into Office 365


        • The one major downside of this approach is that Microsoft Office 365 does not allow access to shared contacts under public folders via the web. So for users who use Outlook online, these shared contacts are not accessible. Using the physical Outlook client, they are accessible. The only online access to public folders is for mail enabled folders.


        • InfinIT Consulting

          Hi Tee,
          This is a good point. Hopefully Microsoft will change this behavior in a future update. One possible workaround is to store your contacts in Sharepoint and then sync them that way if you can’t use this method.


      • Do you happen to have a tutorial on how to do this with Sharepoint? Also, will this shared contacts sync with mobile devices and still be editable?
        Thank you


      • Does anybody know if a user can share a list created in O365 “people” with others within the organization. I’m referring to lists, not groups. Any help would be greatly appreciated. You would think this would be a simple task but I don’t see anything that allows for this. Thanks in advance


      • InfinIT Consulting


        Here are instructions on how to share out contact lists. I hope this answers your question!
        1. In the Outlook client, open up the “People” section.
        2. In the ribbon, select “Folder”.
        3. Click on “New folder” and name your new contacts list. It should show up as a folder underneath “My contacts”.
        4. Right click on the new folder and select “Share” > “Share contacts”.
        5. Select the contacts you would like to share the list with and check the box if you would like to give them editing permissions.
        6. They will receive an email with a link that will automatically map your contacts list to their Outlook client.

        If you are talking about a what Microsoft refers to as a “contact list” where it acts like a personal distribution group, those are actually structured like an individual contact and cannot be shared. You can forward those contact lists to others like a contact card and they can import it, but it will not update for others when you make a change. In this case, you can create a distribution group with one of the users listed as the owner so that they can self-manage the group or you can share out the a contact folder (instructions above) with the contact list inside of it.


    • Hi, nice tutorial. What about sync public contacts with mobile contact list?



    • InfinIT Consulting

      Hi Carlos,

      As of this moment, it’s not possible to access contacts in a Public Folder on a mobile device. The Exchange ActiveSync protocol has limited functionality regarding Public Folders (which is also why you see some limited functionality on Macs too).

      In a test case, we have set up an account using the OWA app for the iPhone. Through this app, we are able to the see the Public Folder for the contact list under “Other Contacts”, but unable to see the contents within. Creating a new contact will successfully create a new contact and you will be able to see this new contact through Outlook Web App in the browser or in Outlook on your computer. Unfortunately, you will still be unable to see the contacts within the Public Folder.

      You will not be able to synchronize these contacts to the mobile device’s contacts list.


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