The sudden removal of public folder access in outlook on the web

Iron Contributor

Last week access to public folders was removed from outlook on the web with no announcement, does anyone know why?  and why was the message centre not used to communicate this change ?


Now you get a banner saying "switch to outlook desktop to view public folders"

25 Replies

I still have access to them in OWA, but adding @Gabe Bratton just in case.

I'm not aware of this change. The only issue I am tracking with Public Folders is that Owners can no longer delete them from the UI and temporarily have to use Powershell,

I'll ping my peers and ask them to post if they know anything about this change.

@Gabe Bratton  Thank you for trying to find out about this, here is a screenshot of the message that we now see.  It is so frustrating that communication of changes is now so disjointed in Microsoft.


@technonath Access to mail and calendar type PFs will continue working fine in OWA. The banner indicates Users will not be able to access Public Folders contacts from People Hub in Outlook Web App. Please visit People Hub in Outlook desktop to view and manage Public Folder(s) contacts. 

@Bhalchandra_Atre-MSFT Any chance of explaining why the sudden change? Also why this change is not documented anywhere or mentioned in the message centre.  


Why is Owa not allowed to use shared contacts in any way now either via public folders or via a shared contacts folder in a shared mailbox? 

Also even stranger - 3 of us in the same tenant get this message - but 1 person in our tenant still has the ability to access the public folders. - This is a total mess.
Still no reply ? Please, please can we have some answers

@technonath You can find the announcement here -


The way forward is to use Outlook desktop client to access/manage public folders contacts

This is total rubbish - so you have removed public folder access to contacts and say "just use outlook for windows!" - so how are mac & linux users supposed to access those contacts now ?

Why was this change not communicated through the message centre to you customers before you did it ? Why was the blog post not made in the exchange blog which is where I expect to look for changes to Exchange?

2 months on and no answers on this, no clarity about what is happening regarding public folder contacts and no explanation of alternative methods of how contacts sharing between users is supposed to work now in outlook on the web. 


Please @Bhalchandra_Atre-MSFT we need clarity on this matter.

Technonath, apologies for the delay in response. I can think of following alternatives to share contacts:
1) Create custom Address list, just for contacts (
2) Use shared mailbox and create the contacts under it

If you still must use the public folder contacts in OWA, I suggest to open a support ticket. You can also file a feedback request on the feedback portal (

Hope this helps.

1) Gal contacts are not easily editable by everyone in the company and have no way of syncing them from outlook mobile to your phone contacts, you have to manually copy them - no good for contact sharing

2) Do you use your own product?? - the documentation clearly states "You cannot access shared contacts list for a shared mailbox from Outlook Web App."

why should I open a support ticket to get you to restore a facility that you just took away with no notice or explanation?? I have a day job to do supporting my customers - I understand that you work for Microsoft and should raise this directly yourself - don't put this one on me. It's no wonder no-one wants to rent cloud software when features can get removed with no notice, it just destroys people's trust in the product.

P.S. no-one from Microsoft ever interacts on the feedback portal it is a total waste of time.

Ran into the same issue, having a shared public folder for contacts that we wanted to be org wide.
Recommendations seem to be moving contact lists to SharePoint, but documentation is very vague on how to properly do that.

@Paypercorn I don't think I am breaking any trade secrets here, but I did have some contact with the outlook team and I believe they are actively trying to look at a way to re-instate it.

Another Weird thing I noticed with Contacts public folders,
For them to appear in the Outlook Desktop App Contact Tab under "other contacts", it seems to be necessary to add the public folder to favorites on OWA first, otherwise it just appears in the address book and folder tab view but not the Contacts tab.
(OWA, right click on folders, add public folder to favorites)
Have been using Public Folders since we moved to Outlook and Exchange Server years ago to implement a Company Wide Address book. When we moved to M365 and Exchange online it still functioned perfectly. Staff could use either the desktop app or the browser and access our company wide address book that only a number of staff have permission to maintain. Why fix or change what is not broken! I have not found an alternative implementation that works with M365 and the desktop app. Microsoft should provide adequate step by step documentation for an alternative method of providing the same functionality.
According to my sources, we should get a toggle switch by the 28th of April to switch it back to the old behaviour.
I was getting a bit worried, with the new 365 Outlook being available on trial.
I am still having issues with this. Not available in the Brower on in the desktop app. Has anyone an update?