Programmed to Reply
Configuring Exchange 2003 automated replies to internal and external e-mail accounts.
- By Bill Boswell
We use Exchange 2003. I read your solution
a while back about using the Forms Assistant to sent automated replies
when an e-mail is sent to a public folder. (See "Auto Babble
We implemented an automatic reply on a public folder using your steps
and it works fine for users in our Exchange organization. But it does
not work for users from the Internet such as Yahoo or some other sender.
Any thoughts on why this might be the case?
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Melanie: For readers who haven't ever tried to
send e-mails to an Exchange 2003 (or Exchange 2000) public folder, there
are a couple of configuration changes that must be made to get a satisfactory
First, although every MAPI public folder is mail-enabled by default,
the standard configuration hides the folders from the GAL. This encourages
users to access folders via the Public Folder interface in Outlook rather
than simply sending a message to the folder. In this default configuration,
it's possible to send a message to a public folder using its SMTP mail
address, such as PublicFolder@Company.com.
But, to make it more convenient for users, you can let the folder appear
in the GAL. Do this by opening the Properties window for the public folder
in Exchange System Manager (ESM) and selecting the Exchange Advance tab.
Uncheck the Hide From Exchange Address Lists option and click OK to save
the change. In a few minutes, the Recipient Update Service will mark the
corresponding Public Folder object in Active Directory with a Global Address
List flag. At that point, users will see the folder in the GAL when they
click the To... button in Outlook.
Whether or not you want to show the folder in the GAL, before Internet
users can send mail to the folder, you have to make a small permission
change. This is because Internet mail arrives via Simple Mail Transfer
Protocol (SMTP), not MAPI. SMTP message traffic does not carry authentication
credentials. In other words, Internet mail arrives "anonymously."
Standard public folder permissions do not allow anonymous postings. To
permit Internet users to send mail to a Exchange public folder, you must
change the MAPI permissions on the folder to give Contributor permissions
to Anonymous. This can be done in ESM or in Outlook, if you have sufficient
privileges. If you use ESM, open the Properties window for the folder,
select the Permissions tab, click Client Permissions, then change the
permission for Anonymous. You may need to add Anonymous to the list using
the Add button. If you use Outlook, get access to the permission list
by opening the Properties window and selecting the Permissions tab.
Okay, we've now caught up with Melanie. We have a public folder that
accepts incoming e-mail from Internet users. We can configure an automated
reply via the Folder Assistant as I described in in my ""Auto Babble"
article and test it using an Exchange account. If everything is configured
correctly, a MAPI sender will get an automated reply. But when you test
the automated reply by e-mailing from an outside account, the sender will
not get an automated reply.
Here's why: Exchange knows that spammers target mail to corporate
e-mail users. Exchange does not want to give spammers a clue that a particular
user is a "live" account, so it blocks all forms of automated
replies—including out-of-office replies and automatic forwarding—to
senders that are outside the Exchange organization.
To allow one or more of these automated replies to occur, go to the Global
Settings icon in ESM, drill down to the Internet Message Format and open
the properties of the Default format. Select the Advanced tab. Put a checkmark
next to Allow Automatic Replies and click OK to save the change.
At this point, if you send a message to the public folder from an Internet
account, you should get a reply.
I don't necessarily recommend that you make this change, because it would
allow all automated replies to go to the Internet, which might
increase the amount of spam you receive. But with the current billion-to-one
ratio of spam to ham in the typical corporate message stream, you might
not even notice the increase.
Contributing Editor Bill Boswell, MCSE, is the principal of Bill Boswell Consulting, Inc. He's the author of Inside Windows Server 2003 and Learning Exchange Server 2003 both from Addison Wesley. Bill is also Redmond magazine's "Windows Insider" columnist and a speaker at MCP Magazine's TechMentor Conferences.