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Outlook Integration with SharePoint

This article applies to both Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server, using Office 2003.

For earlier versions of Microsoft Office please refer to Microsoft’s article "Good,Better, Best" at

Integrating Outlook Contacts and Tasks with SharePoint:

Outlook 2003 has a one way synchronisation with SharePoint. You can do a once only upload of your Contacts or Tasks to a specific list, but after that, you can only edit these via Internet Explorer and not via Outlook.

Outlook synchronisation with SharePoint only applies to the default set of columns in a newly created 'Contacts List'. For example, the field 'Children' is not included as a default column in a SharePoint 'Contacts List' but it exists by default in Outlook. However, if you were to add this column to a SharePoint 'Contacts List' and click on 'Link to Outlook', any data in this column is NOT imported into Outlook.

As a workaround to this, the SharePoint 'Contacts List' can be exported to an Excel spreadsheet, saved as a .csv and then imported into Outlook. To use the example from above, using the 'Children' field in SharePoint would correctly import into Outlook via this method.

Without the use of VBA code, it is not possible to import user-defined contact fields in Outlook and have Outlook create these fields on the fly. At best, you can only map user-defined contact fields to existing default Outlook contact fields. Again, you can only do this via a contact list import from excel or a .csv etc.

A simpler and more practical way to have a list of Contacts or Tasks in SharePoint is to use the Excel 2003 Integration with SharePoint. This is able to synchronise both ways and allows you to update entries in Excel, rather than having to click around in Internet Explorer to get to a SharePoint List.

Integrating Outlook Messages with SharePoint:

Saving messages into Windows SharePoint Services or SharePoint Portal Server can be done from the save as menu item in Outlook 2003. This allows you to save messages in Document Library. The saving method is fine if there is only one document library you want to save this to. The way to find this isn’t very intuitive. You have to type the URL of the site and then browse to the document library. There are a few other items to consider if you want to share your messages this way.

The searching in SharePoint is only enabled to search a few types of files. These are:

  • Text, Html , Archived HTML, ASPX and XML Files

  • Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio and Publisher Files

  • PDF Files will need the iFilter from Adobe.

  • ** Microsoft Outlook produces .msg Files which contain the attachment as well as the body of the message. To search a .msg file, one needs an iFilter for the SQL Server Full Text Search Engine. Also, the search only applies to documents added or changed after the iFilter is applied. The search also looks in the metadata including the values in document library columns. If you type in ‘Automating Legal Systems’, you’ll return all documents with the word “Automating’ in them, plus any with the word “Legal” etc. SharePoint Portal Server provides more detailed indexing of content so you can use document properties or column names in your search criteria, allowing more targeting searching.

    Noel Williams is the Managing Director of a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner called MacroView Business Technology who specialises in solutions that make good use of Microsoft Office and SharePoint.

    MacroView can help you with:

    a) a Document Management framework which integrates Microsoft Office with SharePoint, including Outlook messages

    b) Integration and Automation of Microsoft Office with SharePoint and

    c) Customisation and Training on Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server.