Exchange Server Global Address List (GAL)

I set up a few support pages for Exchange 5.5 users at a previous job. The company IT Support Microsoft Exchange Server Page is designed to assist company employees with general usage and troubleshooting of their Outlook email client and overall Exchange Server issues. Now that everyone (Windows World) has migrated to Exchange, we will address the most common issues that affect Outlook users. The focus of these pages and links is on Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5, Service Pack 4, mainly from the client (Outlook 2000) perspective. Please keep in mind this information is targeted at those who are either new employees or at those who are encountering problems. If you are an Exchange power user, please consider this mere review.

Exchange Server Issues…
Those Confusing Address Books!

Address book usage has been by far the number one Exchange-related Trouble Ticket issue IT Support has received. For good reason! Once upon a time, IT Support had to update the company .PST file on one C:\ drive and upload it to the company P:\ drive so that employees could have a general Contacts listing of all employees. That file had to be imported for each Outlook client. This file was edited every time a new employee came on board. To make a long story short, after employees imported this common .PST file into their own Outlook client, they then had the arduous task of keeping that same .PST updated manually. That meant everyone was responsible for knowing the status of company employees all the time. With the migration to Exchange Server, the Global Address List is updated in one location – the server, and synchronized or updated with every Outlook user each time they log on/off.

The confusion is this: while the Global Address List (or “Recipients”) is convenient, many employees want to mainly use their personal Contacts listing: the one being used previously. The bad news is (was?) that after the Exchange migration, many employees were configured to use the Global Address List (GAL) first, or in some cases only, while they preferred to use mainly their local Contacts. The good news is that, as most of you know, the local Contacts is still available. It simply needs to be recognized along with the GAL. Both the server-based GAL AND the Contacts address book on your local C:\ drive can, and should, be used as needed. Many employees have deleted the company contacts from their local Contacts and thus maintain it purely for outside email addresses, i.e vendors, customers, partners, etc. Meanwhile, the GAL recipients list of company employees will constantly be updated as needed on the server.

Tools/Services/Addressing, our friend

The following is in reference to the Tools menu available in the primary Outlook window. After Tools is opened, click the Services tab, then go to Addressing.

[Please, do not adjust any settings in the previously mentioned Services window nor the Delivery tab/window! If you do, you might disrupt your email services].

The Exchange server, for good or for bad, lists Contacts in the following order: first name, last name. The idea is that most people remember new employees by first name in the beginning. This is the essence of most of the recent Contacts confusion. The automatic email addressing feature in Outlook is tied in with the order in which Contacts are listed. Many Outlook users were configuring their Contacts to be listed “last name, first name”. For the employees who were previously listing their local Contacts by “last name, first name”, some peculiarities occurred after the Exchange migration. For example, if an employee is used to opening a new message window, and typing in “Harada”, then hitting tab or the “check names” button, auto-filling of the correct email address ensued. In order for this to continue happening, open Outlook 2000, then Tools/Services/Addressing. Customize from there as you wish. Make sure that your preference is listed first in the “Show this address list first” drop down menu: select either Global Address List or Recipients if you email predominantly in-house (company and Corporate will NOT work). For the second category, “Keep personal addresses in” field, Contacts was selected by default with the Exchange migration. Remember, Contacts refers to your own C:\ drive local Contacts. You can edit them as you see fit.

Finally, in the last category, “When sending mail, check names using these address lists in the following order”, choose Contacts if you email outside of company the majority of the time. Otherwise, choose Global Address List. If one or both of these items are not listed, click the Add tab. Choose Contacts, located underneath Outlook Address Book, or either Global Address List or Recipients (they are the same list). From there, use the arrow tabs to the right to finalize your preference. Basically, if both entries are made here, regardless of the order you should be able to utilize the “check names” feature that so many employees seem especially fond of.

Again, keep in mind: if you predominantly utilize the Global Address List you can type in the first name of an employee when composing a new email. Then click the “check names” button and the correct email will auto-fill, unless there are more than one. In that case, you will have to select the correct one.

Very important! Of course, if you have both Address book types listed you should be able to use either method for auto-filling: typing in first name only or last name, or even username, then tab out of the “To:” box. Bear in mind that at times you will need to wait for a few seconds for this “check names” feature to work.

The curse of duplicate names and multiple email addresses!

Good luck typing “David” in a new message and expecting a quick auto-fill of my email address. David, being the common name that it is, is the first name of about 3 employees at company [including one very important David, and it’s not me!], as well as a last name of a certain Engineer. The Exchange Server and Outlook are good, but they do not know intuitively which David you want to send email to. In fact, typing “David” into the “To:” field, then tab, reveals an ugly-looking “david” with a nasty-looking squiggly line underneath it. This has been a common complaint recently, but the easy fix is to locate the button above resembling a human head with a check mark next to it. It should be next to the address book. Click this “check names” button and you will get a list of all Davids, first or last name. If you type “Dave”, then tab you again need to click “check names” but you will not get any Davids! So, a good rule of thumb is to use the formal name, when known.

The same goes for last names and usernames. If there is a duplicate entry, you need to check it manually. Unfortunately, an extra mouse click or two is needed!

It is very common to email multiple employees. Sending to multiple email addresses can best be accomplished by: typing the first or last name followed immediately by a semicolon, (space) then another first or last name, followed immediately by a semicolon, etc. Separation by a comma does nothing. Names with multiple listings, as you now know, will not auto-resolve, or auto-fill. The others will. So, you will need to click on the name that does not auto-fill and “check names”. Then select from the list. An example: open a new message in Outlook. In the “To:” box, type mark; william; brad. William and Brad auto-fill, but because there is more than one entry for mark in the Exchange GAL you need to click the name mark, then perform a “check names” command.

Keep in mind that case does not matter when using “check names”. Also, as stated previously, username format can be used as well. User_name format on the email servers is almost always first initial of first name and full last name [there are some exceptions]. It is your, i.e “jrobinson”, “jdimmagio”, “twilliams”, etc. In fact, typing in the username gives a better percentage for getting an auto-completion. If, in the new message “To:” field you type: jrobinson; jdimaggio; twilliams then you should get complete auto-fill of email addressing.

The moral of the Exchange story so far: at the very least, remember employee first names.

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