Using Mail Users/Contacts to redirect email in Exchange Online

Being a geek, I have a few domain names registered, including one that I use for my family’s email. I don’t pay for Exchange Online mailboxes for us all though. Instead, I have a full Office 365 subscription, my wife has Exchange Online and the children (and some other family members) use a variety of free accounts from Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.

Earlier this evening, my son asked me to switch his family email from iCloud to GMail (he has an Android phone, and was getting annoyed with winmail.dat files in iCloud), so I had to unpick my email redirection method… which seemed like a good time to blog about it…

Obviously, my wife and I have full mailboxes in Exchange Online but other family members are set up as contacts. In the Office 365 Admin Center they show up as unlicenced users but if I drill down into the Exchange Admin Center I have some more control.

Each family member is set up as a contact/Mail User. Each contact has been set up with at least two email addresses:

  • user@myfamilydomain.com (that’s not the real name but it will do for this example);
  • user@externalmailprovider.com (i.e. user@icloud.com, user@gmail.com, user@hotmail.com).

By setting the primary email (the one prefixed with upper case SMTP: rather than lower case smtp:) to the user@gmail.com (or wherever), mail will be received at user@myfamilydomain.com but is redirected to their “real” email address.

Exchange Online shows them as type Mail User and lists their external email address as the primary.

2 thoughts on “Using Mail Users/Contacts to redirect email in Exchange Online

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.