Outlook Groups Support for Folders and Rules

Being Able to Work with Folders and Rules Make Outlook Groups More Useful

In August 2022, Microsoft announced that support for group owners and members to create and use folders and inbox rules in Outlook groups was coming. As is often the case, the rollout of the new functionality stalled a little, but is now reaching tenants (MC422161). The feature only works with OWA and Outlook Monarch and there’s no news when, if ever, it will appear in Outlook desktop or Outlook mobile. Nevertheless, giving Outlook groups some new functionality is welcome as not much has happened in this area for a while. The last major update was the addition of Send As and Send on Behalf of support in 2019.

New Support for Folders and Rules

The new capability allows group owners and members (if allowed) to:

  • Create new folders in the group mailbox used by an Outlook group. Although you can then list and access the new folders, you can’t access any of the default folders in the mailbox except Inbox and Deleted Items (and calendar, but only through the calendar view). For years, people have asked for access to the Junk Email folder in group mailboxes to allow them to rescue messages that end up there.
  • Move and copy items between folders. Oddly, OWA doesn’t support drag and drop of items between group mailbox folders.
  • Create rules to process messages delivered to the group mailbox’s inbox.

Group owners can always create and delete folders and rules. Group members need permission before they can use these functions.

What’s odd about this implementation is that OWA has allowed access to group folders for years if you add a group mailbox to its set of resources as a shared folder. For instance, Figure 1 shows the folders in a group mailbox when accessed as a shared folder. You can see default folders like Archive and Junk Email. The “Happiness” folder, created using the new functionality, is also visible.

OWA displays group folders when configured as a shared folder
Figure 1: OWA displays group folders when configured as a shared folder

Figure 2 shows what you see using the new feature. The Happiness folder is present, but there’s no trace of the Drafts, Archive, Sent Items, or Junk Email folders. I realize that Microsoft didn’t set out to make all folders in a group mailbox available, but it would be nice to know why not, especially when it’s possible to leverage code that already exists (albeit for group owners only).

The Outlook Groups implementation reveals limited folders
Figure 2: The Outlook Groups implementation reveals limited folders

Curiously, you can only drag and drop a message from another folder to the inbox of a group mailbox. The other folders are there but OWA won’t move items to them. Instead, you move the item to the inbox and then move it from there to the desired folder.

Another oddity is that if you add a group as a favorite, OWA only displays the Inbox when you access the mailbox. This is likely by design because an OWA favorite is a folder rather than a complete mailbox, but it’s something that might confuse users.

Organization-Wide Settings

Several organization-level and group-level settings are available to control the new functionality. A tenant administrator can use the Set-OrganizationConfig cmdlet to update these settings:

  • IsGroupFoldersAndRulesEnabled: Defines if the new functionality is turned on or off. The default is False, meaning that OWA does not exposes the support for folders and rules in Outlook groups. Run the Set-OrganizationConfig cmdlet to update the setting to True to enable the new features.
  • IsGroupMemberAllowedToEditContent: Controls if group owners see a permissions toggle in group settings to control the ability of group members to move, copy, and delete messages and create and manage rules. The default is True, meaning that the toggle is available. If set to False, group owners don’t see the toggle and group members cannot move, copy, and delete items.
  • BlockMoveMessagesForGroupFolders: Controls if the move option is available to group members. If True, they can move items to other folders. If False, they cannot. The reason why you might prevent group members moving items is to keep all received messages in the Inbox where they can be accessed by people using Outlook desktop and mobile clients.

Group owners can always delete, move, and copy items.

Group-Level Setting

After making sure that the organization IsGroupMemberAllowedToEditContent setting is True, we can move to group-level control. In my tenant, the permissions toggle (Figure 3) to allow group members to move, delete, and copy items is off for all groups, meaning that a group owner must go and switch the toggle before group members can edit content. It can take up to 20 minutes before the change becomes effective. This is probably due to caching and the need to publish the new settings to OWA.

Updating Outlook group settings to allow members to create and edit content
Figure 3: Updating Outlook group settings to allow members to create and edit content


Except that fewer actions are available, creating a new rule to process inbound email for the group works exactly like personal inbox rules in OWA. Go to group settings and select the Rules option. OWA displays the screen shown in Figure 4 to allow the input of:

  • A rule name.
  • Rule conditions.
  • Rule actions. In Figure 4, you can see that the Move action is unavailable. This is because the BlockMoveMessagesForGroupFolders organizational setting is True.

One point to remember is that rules only apply to the copy of an inbound message delivered to the group mailbox. Group members that subscribe to the inbox to receive copies of messages sent to the group still receive those copies.

Progress But More to Do

There’s not much more to say about folder and rule support in Outlook groups. It’s progress because it enables more ways to work with email in Outlook groups. However, the nagging feeling is that most Microsoft 365 Groups created today are used with Teams. Quite how many Outlook groups are used to process real work is unknown, but presumably there’s enough for Microsoft to continue adding new features.

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3 Replies to “Outlook Groups Support for Folders and Rules”

  1. Love this new support and thanks for the post!

    Feedback: I checked in three M365 tenants I manage and IsGroupFoldersAndRulesEnabled & IsGroupMemberAllowedToEditContent were both set to False, not True by default.

    From: Get-OrganizationConfig | fl IsGroupFoldersAndRulesEnabled, IsGroupMemberAllowedToEditContent,BlockMoveMessagesForGroupFolders

    IsGroupFoldersAndRulesEnabled : False
    IsGroupMemberAllowedToEditContent : False
    BlockMoveMessagesForGroupFolders : False

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