Set up public folders in a new organization in Exchange Online

Summary: How to set up public folders, including assigning permissions to them in the EAC.

This topic shows you how to get public folders configured and running in a new organization or in an organization that has never previously had public folders.


For more information about the storage quotas and limits for public folders, see Exchange Online Limits.

OWA for devices refers to the old "OWA for Android" and "OWA for iPhone/iPad" applications that have since been deprecated. For more details, see Microsoft OWA mobile apps are being retired.

The procedure in this article guides you through the process of creating public folders for the first time.

What do you need to know before you begin?


Having problems? Ask for help in the Exchange forums. Visit the forums at Exchange Online or Exchange Online Protection.

Step 1: Create the primary public folder mailbox

The primary public folder mailbox contains a writeable copy of the public folder hierarchy plus content and is the first public folder mailbox that you create for your organization. Subsequent public folder mailboxes will be secondary public folder mailboxes, which will contain a read-only copy of the hierarchy plus content.

For detailed steps, see Create a public folder mailbox.

Step 2: Create your first public folder

For detailed steps, see Create a public folder.

Step 3: Assign permissions to the public folder

After you create the public folder, you'll need to assign the Owner permissions level so that at least one user can access the public folder from the client and create subfolders. Any public folders created after this one will inherit the permissions of the parent public folder.

  1. In the Exchange admin center (EAC), navigate to Public folders > Public folders.

  2. In the list view, select the public folder.

  3. In the details pane, under Folder permissions, click Manage.

  4. In Public Folder Permissions, click Add Add Icon..

  5. Click Browse to select a user.

  6. In the Permission level list, select a level. At least one user should be an Owner.

  7. Click Save.

  8. You can add multiple users by clicking Add Add Icon. and assigning the appropriate permissions using the steps above. You can also customize the permission level by selecting or clearing the check boxes. When you edit a predefined permission level such as Owner, the permission level will change to Custom.

For information about how to use Exchange Online PowerShell to assign permissions to a public folder, see Add-PublicFolderClientPermission.

Step 4 (Optional): Mail-enable the public folder

If you want users to send mail to the public folder, you can mail-enable it. This step is optional. If you don't mail-enable the public folder, users can post messages to the public folder by dragging items into it from within Outlook.

  1. In the EAC, navigate to Public folders > Public folders.

  2. In the list view, select the public folder you want to mail-enable.

  3. In the details pane, under Mail settings - Disabled, click Enable.

    A warning displays asking if you are sure you want to enable mail for the public folder. Click Yes.

The public folder will be mail-enabled and the name of the public folder will become the alias of the public folder. If you have multiple recipients with that name, the public folder's alias will be appended with a number. For example, if you have a distribution group named SalesTeam and you create a public folder named SalesTeam and then mail-enable it, the alias of that public folder will be SalesTeam1.

For information about how to use Exchange Online PowerShell to mail-enable a public folder, see Enable-MailPublicFolder.


If you have a hybrid configuration, the public folders created on Exchange Online are only visible to cloud-based mailboxes. Conversely, public folders created on-premises are only visible to on-premises mailboxes.

To complete a migration from Exchange Server 2010 to Exchange Online with public folders, see Configure legacy on-premises public folders for a hybrid deployment.