Centralized Management of Personal Safelists in Outlook 2007

Across its many different account types, Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 provides personal whitelist and blacklist functionalities, which let users maintain lists of email addresses exempt from junk mail filtering and lists of email addresses that should automatically be blocked. You can find these lists in Outlook 2007 by choosing Tools, Options and clicking Junk E-mail on the Preferences tab. Click the Safe Senders tab, and you’ll see a list similar to the one shown in Figure 3. Addresses and domains from safe senders, safe recipients, and blocked senders lists are stored in the default mailbox store Inbox as hidden items. Note that these lists can be exported to or imported from text files. For more information about these lists, see Table 1.

You can have some control over the content users keep on those lists by providing them a base list at startup. The Office Customization Tool (OCT) in Office 2007 lets administrators configure the path to safelist text files to use for deployment. The OCT replaces the Custom Installation Wizard from Office 2000 through 2003, so this is for Outlook 2007 only. The actual text files used for the safelists can be updated as required by company policies in the path identified in the OCT. The OCT requires Windows Installer 3.1 on both the destination client machines and the computer you use to create the configuration files. You can download Windows Installer 3.1 from www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=889482FC-5F56-4A38-B838-DE776FD4138C&displaylang=en.
To initiate the OCT, run Office 2007 setup.exe from the command line or run line with the /admin switch. Figure 4 shows the OCT with the safelist text files identified in Figure 3. After you configure the desired settings, save the Office setup configuration file. Typically, OCT will be part of the initial rollout for Office 2007. However, you can also use OCT to update a particular user setting as shown in Figure 5. This update is performed by reinstalling Outlook 2007 changing only the custom settings outlined in the Setup customization file.

For Outlook 2007 installations in Active Directory (AD) environments, use Group Policy to update configuration items accessible in Group Policy Object (GPO) templates. The Outlook administration template Outlk12.adm is available as part of the 2007 Office System Administrative Templates (ADM) download at www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=92d8519a-e143-4aee-8f7a-e4bbaeba13e7&DisplayLang=en. In Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), load the Outlook template, outlk12.adm, into a GPO typically the default domain policy) and update the desired configurations. Figure 6 shows the Microsoft Management Console (MMC) Group Policy Object Editor snap-in with the Junk E-mail settings page for Outlook 2007. The path to the safelists can be enabled at this point.

It’s a good idea to keep centrally managed lists of safe senders, safe recipients, and blocked enders on a server share so you can update them easily. Alternatively, these text files can be pushed out to clients through logon scripts or Group Policy. The path established with OCT or enforced through Group Policy would reflect that location. Even if you don’t run Exchange Server, centralized junk email blacklist and whitelist management can improve message hygiene at the client.

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