Outlook for Windows Stores Settings in Exchange Online Mailboxes

Cloud Settings Roam from PC to PC

Following our coverage of roaming signatures for Outlook for Windows last month, Microsoft made the formal announcements that the feature is coming in Office 365 notification MC215017 on June 2. A separate notification (MC214927 – roadmap item 63037) dealt with the storage of its client settings in Exchange Online mailboxes belong to Office 365 accounts.

The two announcements are separated because of the need to accommodate third-party add-ins which deal with Outlook signatures. This means that if necessary, Outlook can use cloud storage for its settings without including signatures (if add-ins are used).

Store Client Settings in Mailboxes

The two announcements are linked in that this is part of a Microsoft project (long overdue in the eyes of some) to make it easier for Office 365 users to move between computers without the need to reconfigure Outlook for Windows. Roaming Outlook profiles aren’t new and OWA has stored its settings in mailboxes for a long time, so Outlook for Windows is a little late to this party.

Cloud storage or settings appeared last month and will gradually make its way through the various channels used to distribute updates for Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise (aka click to run, aka Office ProPlus. Figure 1 shows the setting to control cloud settings in Outlook version 2005 (build 12827.20268) updated from the current channel (preview) last Tuesday.

Outlook's cloud setting storage option
Figure 1: Outlook’s cloud setting storage option

Outlook Settings Stored in Mailboxes

According to Microsoft, when cloud storage is used (it’s now the default), Outlook stores the settings from the following sections found in Outlook options:

SectionExample setting
GeneralMake Outlook the default program for email
MailEditor options like default format for messages (HTML, plain text, etc.). Mail also includes signatures, now also going to be stored in user mailboxes.
CalendarWhen the working day starts and ends
GroupsAttachment option for messages.
PeopleDisplay user photos alongside messages.
TasksDefault reminder time for tasks.
SearchWhere to search (current folder, mailbox, or all mailboxes),
Ease of UseSuggest names to mention when @ is typed in message text.
AdvancedWhat folder to display when Outlook starts.
Table 1: Outlook settings stored in Exchange Online mailboxes

Ribbon customizations and add-ins are not stored in the mailbox and I don’t think views are either. The language setting for Outlook is not stored because this usually depends on the language configured for Windows.

Slow and Steady

Office 365 is now nine years old and Office click-to-run first appeared in the 2013 generation of products. It’s taken Outlook for Windows a long time to take advantage of cloud storage for its settings, possibly because this issue has never been a high priority for the development group. Given the focus on mobile apps, it’s curious that Microsoft would move to deliver the feature for PCs now, but late is better than never.

In any case, it’s good that both roaming signatures and other cloud settings are now safely stored in mailboxes.

The Office 365 for IT Pros eBook includes a chapter about handling client updates. It’s work that we suspect few really like, but it needs to be done.

5 Replies to “Outlook for Windows Stores Settings in Exchange Online Mailboxes”

  1. I’ve got version 2007 current channel click to run installed at my org, but the “store my outlook settings in the cloud” section shown in the screenshot in this article simply is not there. Am I missing something? Does something need to be enabled by GPO or in Exchange Online?

    1. Is your Office 365 tenant on standard or targeted release? I’m not sure if this has anything to do with it… I am on targeted release and I see the option. Now on version 2008 of Outlook.

      1. Standard Current channel, monthly. There sure are a lot of different terminologies around Office updates. These are for installations on Server 2019 RDS Session Hosts if that matters.

  2. Thanks Tony for the post. The issue I have is that the option is available but when I check it, hit OK and open Options again, it’s back to unchecked. Tested on 2 computers. No “Disable roaming settings in Outlook” GPO setting applied. Outlook version is 2102. Build is 13801.20738. Any idea what could be the cause ?

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