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How Do I Forward Email To An Outside Address in Exchange Server 2003?

On old UNIX systems, it was wonderfully easy to forward all of a user's mail to an outside address: you just created a .forward file, put in the appropriate address and dropped it in the right location, and boom... you were all done.

You can configure a Microsoft Exchange server to do the same thing, but it's a little more cumbersome. Here are the steps you'd take on a server running Exchange Server 2003:

With Exchange 2003, your life will be a little easier if you take all these steps from the Exchange server. Although this task will be performed from the Active Directory Users and Computers management console, some of these steps require DLLs that are installed as part of the Exchange System Manager.

First, you'll need to create a mail-enabled contact:

The contact has now been created; the next step is to configure mail forwarding.

One other suggestion: you might not want the mail-enabled contact to appear in your organization's Exchange address books. To hide the address, open the contact within the Active Directory console and go the the "Exchange Advanced" tab. Check the box that says "Hide from Exchange address lists." (See Figure 5.)

There is also a method for configuring forwarding using only a contact object, without requiring the creation of a mailbox. In the early days of Exchange 2003, Microsoft's website included a disclaimer noting that the method was not officially supported. Now, however, the disclaimer is gone, so presumably it's all just peachy. Microsoft's page describing this method is in KB article 555187, "Configure mail forwarding by using only a Contact object."

The basic procedure is:

1. Create a contact.
2. Assign an alias. (These steps are the same as above.)
3. Add the external address as the primary email address.
4. Add the internal email address as the secondary email address. (You may need to wait a couple minutes for the recipient list to be updated before you can create the secondary address.)

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5