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Outlook Web Application (OWA) Basic Training

Requirements to use OWA Full Version: You must use at least version 7 of Internet Explorer, Safari on Mac, and Firefox 3.X (these two achieve 99 percent feature availability). If you are using Google Chrome or Internet Explorer version 6, you will default to OWA Light.

What is Outlook Web App 2010?

The Outlook Web App allows you to access your University e-mail and calendar from any computer that has Internet access via a Web browser.

To access OWA:
  1. Go to
  2. Click on This is a public or shared computer if you are NOT using your work computer, or are on a computer that is in a public space (kiosk machine, library computer, hotel business center).
  3. Click on This is a private computer if you are using your work computer.
  4. Enter your user name and password in the boxes. Then click Sign In. You are now signed in to OWA.

    The OWA login screen. Under security, the radio button should be selected depending on whether or not your work computer is being used. In the NetID field, enter your NetID, and in the password field, enter your NetID password.      
Navigating OWA

OWA is designed to closely mimic the look and feel of Outlook 2010. The Mail screen is divided into three panes: The Navigation Pane, Message View Pane, and Reading Pane.

The Navigation Pane contains mail folders and provides easy access to Calendars, Contacts, and Tasks. The Message View Pane functions as the inbox and contains all received mail. The Reading Pane displays the contents of a selected message.

The layout of OWA. On the left is the Navigation Pane, in the middle is the Message View Pane, and on the right is the Reading Pane.

Sections of OWA

Click on the selection tab to access the various tools in OWA

OWA Navigation Pane.

OWA Mail Screen

Your Inbox and Managing E-mail

The inbox allows you to send, receive, and archive e-mail. The following image illustrates the tools available in the inbox.

The tools available for use in OWA, including: Inbox, Compose E-mail, Delete E-mail, Move/Copy E-mail, Check for New E-mail, Online Archive, Categories, Help Pages, Reply to All, Forward, and Reply.

Sorting Messages

To sort your messages:

  1. Click Conversations by Date.
  2. Select the criteria you wish to sort by from the Drop Down List.

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Creating/Sending Messages

To create a message

  1. Click on the New button in the toolbar and choose Message.

    The Message option, located in the New button in the toolbar.
  2. Type an e-mail address in the To: field.
    • If you have sent a message to this address before, the Auto Complete feature will display the address. Click on the displayed addressto auto-populate the To: field.

      Auto-complete suggesting an e-mail address based off a partially-entered address. Click the address to have OWA automatically fill in the rest.
    • To look up an address, Click the To: to open the Global Address List.  Type the name of the person you would like to find and Click the Magnifying Glass.

      The Global Address List. The Search Bar should be used to find the desired recipient. After clicking on the desired recipient, the To, Cc, or Bcc icons should be clicked to add the recipient to the respective field.

      You will see a list of possible addresses. Click the address you are looking for, then click the To, Cc or Bcc icons at the bottom of the screen to add the selected address to that field. You may search for more than one address.
  3. Click OK when you are finished gathering addresses.

    The To, Cc, and Bcc fields showing the newly-added addresses.
  4. Add a subject and body to your message, and click Send to send the message.

    The e-mail compose screen. In the Subject line, an appropriate subject should be typed, and in the large text box, the body of the e-mail should be typed.
Add an Attachment
  1. Click on the Paper Clip icon.
  2. Browse your computer and click the file you want to attach.
  3. Click open.
  4. Your file is now attached to your message.

    The Paper Clip icon at the top which attaches a file. After attaching a file, the file will show up in the Attached field below the Subject line.
Create a New Folder

Creating new folders allows you to store your messages in an organized way.

  1. In the navigation pane, right click on the folder that will contain your new folder.
  2. Click create new folder from the drop down menu.

    Right-click menu for the Inbox. The Create New Folder... option should be selected.
  3. Type a name for the new folder, and press enter on your keyboard.

    The newly-created folder under the Inbox, which should be renamed appropriately.
  4. The new folder has been created.

    The newly-created folder under the Inbox.
Move E-mail to Folders

Moving e-mail removes a message from the message pane and places it in the destination folder.

  1. Click on the e-mail you want to move.
  2. Click on the move dropdown menu.
  3. Click the destination folder from the list that appears.

    The Move to Folder menu. The folder should be selected for the location to where you would like to move the selected messages.


  1. Drag and drop the e-mail you want to move into the destination folder.

    A selected message being dragged and dropped into the newly-created folder.
Copy E-mail to Folders

Copying e-mail leaves the original message in the message pane and places a copy in the destination folder.

  1. Click on the e-mail you want to copy.
  2. Click on the move dropdown menu.
  3. Click Copy Folder.
  4. Select the destination folder in the new window that appears.
  5. Click Copy.

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OWA Calendar

The OWA Calendar view. On the left is a listing of accessible calendars, and in the main area are the calendar appointments.

Customize OWA Calendar View

OWA has four views you can use to display your schedule and appointments:

Adding an Appointment
  1. Click New on the Calendar Toolbar.
  2. Click Appointment in the drop down menu
    Double click on the date of the appointment on the calendar.

    The Appointment option under the New button in the toolbar. Alternatively, double clicking on the date of the appointment on the calendar will create a new appointment.
  3. In the Appointment window:
    1. Type a subject for the appointment.
    2. Type a location.
    3. Select a start and end time/date.
    4. Turn reminder on/off and select how far in advance of the appointment it triggers.
    5. Add more details in the body section of the window.
    6. Click Save and Close.
  4. The appointment is now visible in your calendar.

    Create an Appointment window. An appropriate Subject and Location should be entered into their respective fields, and the Start and End times should be set appropriately. A reminder can be set underneath, and details of the appointment can be entered in the large text box.
Creating a Meeting Request

Meeting Request is a tool that allows you to schedule meetings and invite attendees. You receive notification when someone accepts, declines, or proposes a new meeting time.

  1. Click New on the Calendar Toolbar.
  2. Click Meeting Request. The new meeting window will open.

    The Meeting Request option under the New button located in the toolbar.
  3. Type the address of people you want to invite into the To… field.  Click To… to use the Global Address List to find attendees.
  4. Click on Resources… and select a resource from the list to reserve a room or piece of equipment.
  5. Type a subject for the meeting in the subject field.
  6. Type a location for the meeting in the Location field. If you selected a room in Resources, it will auto-populate here.
  7. Select a start and end time/date.
  8. Click Send.
  9. E-mail invitations will be sent to all invitees and resources will be reserved during your scheduled time.

    The New Meeting Request window. In the To field, the addresses of the invitees should be entered. After clicking the Resources field, a resource to reserve will appear in the Resources field. Then the Subject, Location, Start time, and End time should all be set appropriately. A reminder may be set before the appointment, and a meeting description should be entered into the large text box.
Using the Scheduling Assistant

The Scheduling Assistant allows you to check the availability of people and resources, displaying Free/Busy indicators for blocks of time throughout the day.

  1. Click New on the Calendar Toolbar.
  2. Click Meeting Request.
  3. Click the Scheduling Assistant tab.
  4. Select a start and end time for the meeting.
  5.  Add a name to select attendees from the Global Address List.
  6.  Add a room to add a location for the meeting.

Availability is determined by each user’s personal calendar. Unavailable time will appear as a purple block in the row next to an attendee’s name. You can easily see when people and resources are available and select an appropriate meeting time.

The Scheduling Assistant window, showing the availability of attendees and resources.

Calendar Sharing

Sharing a calendar will allow others to have more access to your scheduling information than basic Free/Busy indicators.

  1. Click Share on the Calendar Toolbar.
  2. Click Share a Calendar in the drop down window.
  3. Click on the calendar you wish to share.

    The Share This Calendar... option under the Share button.
  4. Click on the To… button to select users to share your calendar with.
  5. Add a subject for the invitation.
  6. In the Share section, click on the level of access you wish to grant users.
  7. Type text into the body if desired.
  8. Click Send.

    The Share Calendar window. In the To... field, the addresses or names of the desired recipients should be entered. An appropriate Subject should be entered in the Subject field. In the Share section, the radio button corresponding to the desired level of access should be selected. A note may be entered into the body text box.
  9. The person(s) being invited will receive an e-mail in their inbox requesting a calendar share. In order to accept, they must click Add This Calendar.
Adding a Calendar

You can add anyone’s calendar to your list in OWA, however in order to see more than simple Free/Busy information, you will need to request permission.

  1. Click Share in the calendar toolbar.
  2. Click Add a Calendar.

    The Add Calendar... option under the Share button in the toolbar.
  3. In the Add a Calendar window, click on Name and select the user you want from the Global Address List.
  4. Click OK.

    The Add Calendar window. The radio button from Calendar from your organization should be selected, and in the Name field, the desired user should be selected.


Accessing Contacts

There are two ways to access contacts in OWA:

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The Global Address List

The Global Address List contains all people and resources in the organization. It can be used to find contact information, invite users to meetings, and check resource availability.

Click on the book icon next to “Find Someone” you access the Global Address List. There are a couple of different features as compared to the “Contacts” you open in the left side navigation.

The Global Address List window showing a list of the people and rooms within the database.

The Personal Contact List

You can view All, People or Groups in your personal contact list. Click the radio button under “Show:” to select from these views.

When you click on an address of an individual or group from the list, you can:

The Personal Contact List, showing contact information for individuals and groups added to the list. From the Personal Contact List, one can e-mail contacts, set up meeting requests, and forward contact information.

Creating New Contacts

You can create new individual or group contacts. Click on New in the contact toolbar and select:

The Contact and Group options, located under the New button in the contact toolbar.

When you create either a new group contact, a window opens for you to enter in information about the group.

  1. Type a name for the group in Group Name.
  2. Click Members and the Global Address list (GAL) will open for you to find names to add.

    The Add Group window. In the Group Name field, an appropriate group name should be entered. In the Members field, the appropriate names should be selected from the Global Address List.

    1. Type the name you want to search for in the search box and click on the little magnifying glass.
    2. Click on the name and then click Members at bottom of the window. The name will show up in the field next to Members.
    3. To add more names, repeat steps 1 and 2.
    4. When finished adding names, click on OK.

      The Global Address List containing the entire list of NU employees. A name should be entered into the Search box so that the list will be filtered. After clicking on a name and clicking Members at the bottom, the name will show up in the Members field.
  3. Back in the add group contact window, click on Add to Group to add the names to the group. The names you added will appear as a list under Name.
  4. Click Save and Close when you are done. Your new group contact will appear in your contact list.

    The Add Group window, now showing the names selected from the Global Address List in the Members list.

Search OWA

How to Search

You'll find a search window at the top of the list for E-mail, contacts or tasks. If you click the down arrow next to the search box you will have several choices to choose from:

The search bar dropdown menu, allowing the user to search within a desired area.

You can also perform advanced searching. For Advanced searching, click the chevrons to the right side of the search window to select additional options to narrow the range of your search. In Mail, you can narrow your search to the following:

The Advanced search window, allowing messages to be searched for where the keyword appears, who the e-mail is from, and its category.

Advanced Features

E-mail Signature

Adding an e-mail signature can help to ensure that University e-mail meets professional standards, represents the quality of your work and the University’s business, and provides relevant information to support Northwestern business processes.

  1. Click on Options in the upper-right portion of the screen.
  2. Click See All Options in the drop down menu.

    The See All Options under the Options button at the upper-right portion of the screen.
  3. Click on Settings.

    The Settings option.
  4. Type your signature in the E-Mail Signature text box.
  5. Click Automatically include my signature on messages I send if you want the signature to appear by default on your outgoing e-mail.

    The E-Mail Signature window. In the large text box, the desired signature should be typed. The checkbox at the bottom for Automatically include my signature on messages I send should be selected if the signature should appear by default on all outgoing e-mail.
  6. Click Save in the lower-right portion of the screen.
  7. If you did not choose to automatically include your signature on outgoing e-mail, you must manually insert it. In the new email window, Click the Insert Signature button. Your signature will appear in the text of your message

    The Insert Signature button on the Compose E-mail window. The button located to the right of the blue arrow, indicated by a piece of paper and a hand holding a pen.
Out of Office Messaging
  1. Click the Options dropdown menu, and select Set Automatic Replies.

    The Set Automatic Replies... option in the Options dropdown menu.
  2. Click the Send automatic replies radio button and choose:
  3. Select Start and End times.
  4. Type a message about being out of the office, i.e. “I will be out of the office from June 1-June 5…..”.
  5. Click Save when you are done.

    The Automatic Replies window. The radio button for Send automatic replies should be selected, and an appropriate Start and End time should be selected. Then, in the body text box, a message about being out of the office should be entered.
Set Mail Rules
  1. Click on Options.
  2. Click Create Inbox Rule in the drop down menu.

    The Create an Inbox Rule option in the Options dropdown menu.
  3. Click New.  This opens the New Inbox Rule window.

    The Inbox Rules window. The New... button should be selected.
  4. Select a condition that triggers the rule in the When the message arrives, and: drop down menu.
  5. In this example, select It was received from…  This opens the Global Address List.

    The New Inbox Rule window. From the dropdown menu, an appropriate rule should be selected.
  6. Search for a sender in the list and double click on their name.  They will appear in the From field at the bottom of the screen.  You can select more than one sender.  Click OK when you are finished.

    The Global Address List. Once the desired person has been located, their name should be double-clicked.
  7. Select an action for the rule to take in the Do the following: drop down menu.
  8. In this example, select Move the message to folder…This opens a list of your folders.
  9. Select the Folder you want in the list that appears and click OK.

    The Select Folder window for the Move the message to folder... action. The desired folder to move the messages to should be selected.
  10. Click Save.  Your rule is now in effect.

Sign Out

Be sure to sign out so that no one can access your University data. Click the Sign Out button in the top right-hand corner; you will then be asked to close the browser by clicking the close button.

The sign out button located at the top right-hand corner.

Last Updated: 20 December 2018

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