Move items between mailboxes using OWA

Did you know that you can move items between different mailboxes using OWA? Did you also know that it’s FAST, way faster than anything you can achieve with Outlook even in Online mode? And as an added benefit, it does not freeze as Outlook would do when performing the same action.

Now, why would you need it? Well, in some cases messages can end up in the wrong mailbox. In others, people might have a need to simply copy a large number of items stored in a shared mailbox. Yet another scenario is when a user gets a new account/mailbox and wants his old mail available. That last one is especially troublesome in Exchange Online, where export to .pst is possible only from the client and importing back several GBs over the internet can really take a looooong time.

Anyway, so how do you actually move items between different mailboxes? For starter, you will of course need permissions to access the other mailbox (the delegate). Other than that, it’s nothing really complicated: you login to OWA with your own account, right click on the Root folder (aka the one with your name) and select the “Add shared folder” item. Then, simply type in (a part of) the name or email address of the delegate mailbox, and provided you made no mistakes (and you have the corresponding permissions), a new entry will appear on the folder pane on the left. From there it’s simple, you can drag and drop items to move them even between the two mailboxes or you can right click on a item and select the Move action. Simple stuff.

There are some issues however:

  • Folders cannot be copied between the mailboxes, only moved. For individual items there are no such restrictions. The issue is that the copy action can only be achieved if you select the Move item from right-click, not via drag and drop. Perhaps we will have an option for this in the next OWA versions
  • The default folders (Inbox, Sent Items, etc.) show some resistance. If you right-click on them, the Move item will be grayed out. You can still move them by drag/dropping or move individual items instead. No copy though, see above.
  • There is no “Select All” option in OWA, so in case individual items need to be selected in particular folder, the process can become tedious.
  • Moving items to the “Top of the information store” is only possible within the own mailbox. It’s another limitation of the GUI of OWA.
  • Overwriting existing folders is not possible (will create new one with suffix (2) and so on)
  • Moving items to the Deleted items of the delegate mailbox, or simply deleting an item in the delegate mailbox will put a copy of the item in YOUR mailbox. This is similar to the default behavior of Outlook when deleting items in shared mailboxes, however unlike Outlook, you have no option to control this.

As an added benefit, in the current version of OWA moving items between mailboxes will NOT respect the litigation hold settings. More about this will follow in another post.

3 thoughts on “Move items between mailboxes using OWA

  1. Casey says:

    I tried moving a folder via drag and drop that I created under my inbox that contained 200+ emails to another mailbox and it completely disappeared. It did not move to the shared mailbox. How can I recover these emails?

    1. Vasil Michev says:

      Try refreshing, OWA can be glitchy at times. If you still cannot see them, do a mailbox search.


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