Information Rights Management in Outlook Web App

Applies to: Exchange Server 2013

Information workers increasingly use e-mail to exchange sensitive information. To help secure this information, organizations can use Information Rights Management (IRM) to apply persistent protection to messaging content. Prior to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, effective use of IRM protection was limited to Outlook clients. In Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft Outlook Web Access users were required to download the Rights Management add-in for Microsoft Internet Explorer so they could access IRM-protected content.

In Exchange 2013, IRM in Outlook Web App allows your users to access the rich IRM functionality offered by Exchange to apply persistent IRM-protection to messaging content.

The following IRM functionality is available in Outlook Web App:

  • Send IRM-protected messages: As shown in the following figure, Outlook Web App users can use the permissions drop-down list and select a rights policy template to apply to the message. This allows users to send IRM-protected messages from within Outlook Web App. Messages are IRM-protected by Client Access servers.

    Sending an IRM-protected message from OWA.

  • IRM-protected attachments: When users send an IRM-protected message from Outlook Web App, any files attached to the message also receive the same IRM protection and are protected by using the same rights policy template as the message. In Exchange 2013, IRM protection is applied to files associated with Microsoft Office Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as .xps files and e-mail messages. IRM protection is applied to an attachment only if it's not already IRM-protected. To learn more about Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) rights policy templates, see Information Rights Management.


    IRM in Outlook Web App protects only the supported file attachments mentioned in this section. Attachments that use unsupported file formats aren't protected. When Outlook Web App users protect a message and attach a file of an unsupported type, a notification is displayed informing the users that only supported file types are protected.


    IRM protection can't be applied to a message that's already signed or encrypted by using S/MIME. To apply IRM protection, S/MIME signature and encryption must be removed from the message. The same applies for IRM-protected messages; users can't sign or encrypt them by using S/MIME.

  • Read IRM-protected messages: Messages protected by senders using your organization's AD RMS cluster are rendered in the preview pane in Outlook Web App. No add-ins need to be installed, and the computer doesn't need to be enrolled in the AD RMS deployment. When a user opens a message or views it in the preview pane, the message is decrypted by using the use license added by the Pre-licensing agent. After decryption, the message is displayed in the preview pane. If a pre-license isn't available, Outlook Web App requests one from the AD RMS server and then renders the message. When reading IRM-protected attachments in Outlook Web App, Web-Ready Document Viewing isn't available.


    IRM in Outlook Web App can't prevent users from taking screen captures by using Print Screen functionality in the way Outlook and other Office applications do. This impacts the EXTRACT right, which prevents message content from being copied, if specified in the AD RMS rights policy template.

  • Cross-browser, multiple platform IRM support: IRM in Outlook Web App offers cross-browser, multiple platform IRM support. IRM in Outlook Web App is supported in all browsers supported by Exchange 2013, including on Apple Macintosh and Linux operating systems. To learn more about supported browsers and operating systems, see Supported browsers for Outlook Web App.

  • WebReady Document Viewing: In Exchange 2013, users can view supported IRM-protected attachments by using WebReady Document Viewing. This allows users to view supported attachments without having to download the attachment use the associated application.

Looking for management tasks related to managing IRM? See Information Rights Management procedures.

Enabling IRM in Outlook Web App

To enable IRM in Outlook Web App, you must add the Federation mailbox, a system mailbox created by Exchange 2013 Setup, to the super users group in AD RMS. For details, see Add the Federation Mailbox to the AD RMS Super Users Group. This allows Exchange 2013 servers to access IRM-protected messages.

You must also enable IRM in Outlook Web App by using the Set-IRMConfiguration cmdlet in the Exchange Management Shell. This enables IRM in Outlook Web App for your Exchange 2013 organization. You can disable or enable IRM in Outlook Web App for an Outlook Web App virtual directory. You can also control IRM in Outlook Web App at the following levels of granularity:

  • Per-Outlook Web App virtual directory: To enable or disable IRM in Outlook Web App for an Outlook Web App virtual directory, use the Set-OWAVirtualDirectory cmdlet and set the IRMEnabled parameter to $false or $true (default). This allows you to disable IRM in Outlook Web App for one virtual directory on an Exchange 2013 Client Access server, while keeping it enabled on another virtual directory on a different Client Access server.

  • Per-Outlook Web App mailbox policy: To enable or disable IRM in Outlook Web App for an Outlook Web App mailbox policy, use the Set-OWAMailboxPolicy cmdlet and set the IRMEnabled parameter to $false or $true (default). This allows you to enable IRM in Outlook Web App for one set of users and disable it for another set of users by assigning them a different Outlook Web App mailbox policy.

For more information, see Enable or Disable Information Rights Management on Client Access Servers.