Shared Mailbox Support Soon for Outlook Mobile

Outlook Mobile clients for iOS and Android get shared mailbox support

Removes Need for IMAP4 Workaround

Office 365 notification MC181641 posted on June 5 includes the good news that Outlook mobile (iOS and Android) will soon support connections to Exchange Online shared mailboxes. This will remove the need for the IMAP4 connection currently used as a workaround to access shared mailboxes. Apart from the general kludginess of the IMAP4 workaround, if you log onto a shared mailbox with IMAP4., that mailbox should technically have an Office 365 license.

The development also addresses a huge feature gap that Microsoft has acknowledged to exist for years. This update relates to Office 365 Roadmap items 32571 (iOS) and 32572 (Android) and not the two listed in the announcement.

The announcement says: “You will be able read, write and send emails from the Exchange Online Shared Mailboxes in Outlook for iOS and Android. If you are part of the Office Insider program for iOS and using the Microsoft sync technology (MC165218), you will be able get an early preview of the capabilities via TestFlight this week. It is anticipated that we will start to roll out Shared Mailboxes in Outlook for iOS and Android (using Microsoft sync technology) for general availability in the next several weeks.”

In other words, expect to see shared mailbox support appear in July 2019. That is, if support for the Microsoft Sync Technology is deployed to your Office 365 tenant. To check, look at the settings for your account (Figure 1), or use the PowerShell script in this article.

Outlook Mobile uses Microsoft Sync Technology
Figure 1: Outlook Mobile uses Microsoft Sync Technology

Microsoft Sync Technology is the new connection protocol for Outlook mobile clients that Microsoft has deployed to and the Government Cloud (GCC) and is now rolling out to commercial tenants. Hopefully, the advent of shared mailbox support serves as a spur for Microsoft to complete the deployment of the new sync technology.

Updated Files, Calendar Events in Search, and Calendar Sync

Microsoft includes some other updates in MC181641. These are:

  • Updated Files: The way Outlook mobile presents files will become more coherent with the rest of Office 365 and include a list of recently used files plus cloud sources (like OneDrive for Business or Google Drive). You’ll be able to add a link to share a file that complies with default tenant sharing permissions.
  • Calendar Events in Search: When you search for someone or use a keyword, the results returned will include any matching events found in your calendar. This feature also depends on Microsoft Sync Technology.
  • Calendar Sync: Outlook for Android now supports syncing calendar events from the native calendar app. This is a one-way sync and Microsoft says that the ability to sync from Outlook to local calendar apps is still in development.

Lots Happening in Mobile

Mobile apps tend to evolve quickly. Outlook mobile is no different. These changes, particularly shared mailbox support, will make many people very happy.

Need more information about Outlook clients? Or Office 365 clients in general? We have a complete chapter on the topic in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook.

36 Replies to “Shared Mailbox Support Soon for Outlook Mobile”

  1. With the exception of the specific option to select a Shared Mailbox, the ability to connect to a Shared Mailbox has been available for a while now in iOS w/o need for IMAP. Glad the option will be more apparent.

    1. Right, but connecting a shared mailbox to Outlook Mobile via IMAP means that people log into the mailbox as users. Technically speaking, that means the shared mailbox must have an Office 365 license.

    2. Can you elaborate on that – I can’t add a shared mailbox to my Outlook mobile app on IOS (without IMAP).

      1. @Tony, it was meant as a reply/question to @Todd, as he claims it works with current Outlook mobile (without Testflight).

  2. it does not make me happy, it just makes me less bloodfirsty.
    seriously microsoft needed over a decade of mobile devices to add shared mailbox support
    and no the imap method isnt a viable option at all

  3. not only that, but there a muoltitude of issues making this way a nogo.
    users for instance, gonna give you a hard time if you explain to them they have to add their 5-10 sahred mailboxes this way.
    and do not forget you have to explain them an extra step.

    or he gets a new shared now you have to call him and tell him how to add this, you cant even do that remotely on a mobile device so its
    remote by voice commands on a very flawed AI called user.

    the client gonna have a hardtime too, need to sync 5 mailaccounts, 5 times more overhead, needs longer, takes more battery.
    needs to have 5 times teh mail cache and what no…

    and lest not forget that exchange and imap are not nessesarly the best friends, specially with 3rd party mailclients.

    all in all, its a workaround that you wanna avoid at all costs, specially in bigger installation this method is pure chaos

    1. Don’t use IMAP4 for accessing shared mailboxes – the new approach works well and is simple to set up if the user has the right permissions for the shared mailbox.

  4. I am impressed with this post. Your blog gives a lot of useful information regarding the shared mailbox on mobile. Thanks for such post and please keep it up.

  5. Will this shared mailbox support include support for contacts stored within the shared mailbox? There is very little detail about what the update actually is.

  6. Will this include support for contacts within the shared mailbox? Has anyone tested this in IOS on testflight?

    1. Be patient. Microsoft is working through a number of bugs. One I hit yesterday is a bad authentication prompt in the SharePoint mobile app, which wanted me to log into a shared mailbox that I had removed from Outlook…

      1. I added your name as a contact in a shared mailbox, added the shared mailbox to Outlook, and when I type “rich” into the new messages dialog, I see your name… That looked good.

        But then I realized that your name came from Outlook’s nickname cache (because you had emailed in your question). I added a few more contacts and they have not shown up. And after waiting and doing some other checks, it looks like shared contacts (and the shared calendar) in a shared mailbox are inaccessible through Outlook for iOS.

        I confirmed with Microsoft that Outlook for iOS won’t support access to shared contacts in a shared mailbox.

      2. Well that seems ridiculous. Shared contacts in mobile is a nightmare, other than using the GAL but adding contacts to GAL isn’t intuitive and it requires giving a user access to parts of the admin portal.

      3. It is what it is… But it’s also relatively easy to set up an arrangement where end users can ask for mail contacts to be added to the GAL. I’ve done this with a mixture of a CSV file for users to complete and a PowerShell script to add the contact.

    1. It’s getting very close. I have noticed an increase in quality, so some good work is being done to suppress bugs before release.

  7. So no support for shared mailbox contacts on mobile is confirmed.
    Does the same apply to the shared mailbox calendar on mobile?

  8. I tested this yesterday and it appears to be active on iOS but not yet on Android. I didn’t check the date of the app build/version but at least we are almost there. It only took 18 months from retiring the OWA mobile app to offering a true replacement!

    1. It’s on iOS because TestFlight makes it possible to release new beta features to iOS users. Microsoft says a similar facility isn’t available to them on Android. It’s taking Microsoft longer to release the feature to general availability than anyone predicted, but that’s OK if it works well when released. I use a shared mailbox with Outlook mobile all the time and it’s working better now than it did at the start. As to the OWA mobile app, that was a sad hack that seemed good because it allowed OWA features to be used on a mobile device, but it really wasn’t too good and couldn’t have coped with some of the features now available in OWA.

      1. What I don’t understand is that I’ve never signed up for TestFlight but the iPad Pro I tested it on had the option to add Shared Mailbox in iOS

      2. Just an oddity of Microsoft’s distribution? Do other iOS devices in the tenant have shared mailbox support?

  9. Is it possible to add the mailbox type set as user under shared mailbox in outlook IOS app. I am able to add shared mailbox not user mailbox.

    1. You mean to have delegate access to another user’s mailbox? If so, the answer is no. Not yet.

      1. Tony, that reply indicates that Delegate account support is on the roadmap. Is that true?

  10. We are having issues adding a Shared Mailbox (delegate account support) to an Executive Assistant’s iPhone 8. After adding the Shared Mailbox, it makes us remove one of the accounts even though the assistant has full mailbox access and it works on other devices when the user is logged into other devices and adds the mailbox. Would there be a something stuck somewhere? Essentially have done everything minus resetting the phone.

    1. Time to create a support ticket with Microsoft. They’ll be able to check out the EA’s mailbox to see if everything looks right.

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