Create an Exchange Online Office 365 Public Folders

Reading Time: 4 minutes
office 365 public folders
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Office 365 public folders are a Microsoft Outlook web app functionality that allows multiple users to view the contents of mailboxes. In addition, the group of users in the Exchange Online public folder can send emails. But the functionality isn’t available by default. So you’ll need to make it available.

To make a public folder, you must first make a public folder mailbox. Then, you can fully explore the functionalities of the Outlook feature. But before we tell you how to do it, allow us to touch on the benefits of creating Exchange Online Office 365 public folders.

Benefits of Creating an Outlook Web App Public Folder

Outlook public folders serve two purposes: better data archiving and document sharing & collaboration. These are the two benefits of creating an Office 365 public folder.

If you’re not an experienced Office 365 user, we should mention that Office 365 is the ultimate tool for collaboration and productivity. Public folders are partly why, which enable users greater flexibility with sharing and collaboration. Data archiving is yet another important benefit to touch upon.

With Exchange Online public folders, you eliminate the data archiving mailbox limits. However, it should be noted that these are passive benefits of the feature and not something you should use. For data archiving, you should use the In-Place Archigin in Exchange. For document sharing and collaboration, SharePoint Online has all the solutions.

But take nothing away from these benefits. Even if you use public folders as a means of archiving or data sharing, they’re still an effective solution.

Now, let’s look at creating an Exchange Online Office 365 public folder.

Steps to Create a Public Folder in Exchange Online

Below we will outline the steps necessary to create a public folder in Exchange Online. Let’s start.

  • Log in to your Office 365 account and select “Admin” from the right-hand side;
  • Select “Exchange.” This takes you to the Exchange Admin Center, and you can see all mailboxes, groups, resources, contacts, shared files, etc.;
  • From the list of options on the left, select “Public folders.” You will also see if you have any available Exchange public folders;
  • You will be presented with two options: public folders and public folder mailboxes. Select public folder mailboxes;
  • Press the “+” button to create a new public folder mailbox. Give the public folder mailbox a name and click “Save;”
  • Go back to Public Folders and select “Public Folders.” Here you will see the newly created mailbox;
  • Select it, click on the “+” sign and give the public folder a name. The name you choose will be the one you need to access in Outlook. It will be visible in Outlook. Click “Save;”
  • With that, you now have a new public folder in the Exchange Admin Center. But we’re not done yet;
  • To finish the process, click on the public folder, click “Enable” from the list of options on the right, and click “Yes.” With this, you have enabled the mail settings for this public folder;
  • To add public folders to Outlook, go back to the app, click on “Favorites,” and select “add public folder” option;
  • Add the public folder to finish the process.

Once you finish the process, you can now start forwarding emails to the public folder. To access public folders, click on the name in the “Favorites” section on the Outlook client. If you want to delete public folders, go to the Exchange Admin Center, select the public folder, and click “Delete.”

Steps to Backup Public Folders from Exchange Online

Backing up a public folder will allow you to protect the information from the mailbox. But to backup a public folder, you need to have the right permissions. So the first step is assigning permissions to users on a folder level. Here is how to do that.

  • Log in to the Exchange Admin Center and click on “Public Folders;”
  • Select the public folder you want to backup. Click on the three horizontal dots “…” to access the permissions section;
  • Make sure your account has “Read/Write” permission.

Now, you will need to go back to the Outlook web app and do the following.

  • Click on “File” and then select “Open & Export;”
  • Select “Import/Export,” and select the “Export to a file” option;
  • Select “Outlook data file (pst) as the file type;
  • You will have to select the folders to export from. Find the public folder content you wish to export from Outlook clients. Click “Next” once you’ve selected the public folder;
  • Set the location for the export file, and click “Finish.”

You’ve created a PST file backup copy of the public folder with these steps. Backups are important as they hold copies of important information. In our case, a backup PST file holds all the information from the public folder.

You can also use the backup copy for public folder migration. For example, suppose you ever need to migrate the file folder. In that case, you can use the “Import” option to migrate the backup to a different Outlook user.


As you can see, creating an Office 365 public folder isn’t rocket science. All you need to do is log in to your Outlook client, go to the Exchange Admin Center, and create the public folder from there.

If you need to make a backup copy of the public folder, we’ve also given you the steps. The benefits of public folders in Office 365 are numerous. You can create however many public folders you want and add whoever you want to the public folder.