Some may think that the default format of the user/contact template in Outlook is not the most suitable for their needs. The good news is that this appearance can be changed.

 

 

Let’s start with making the difference between User and Contact: a User is usually a member of our Exchange organization, while a Contact refers to a Mail Contact or User Contact, who can also be from the outside of the Excgange organization (for example, if you have both Exchange and Domino in your organization and users from both are included in the GAL). This difference is important because, even if by default the two templates look exactly the same, they can be modified separately (but by using the same methods).

 

You can find these templates in different places depending on the Exchange server version you are using:

 

Exchange 2007: Exchange Management Console – Toolbox – Details Templates Editor

 

 

 

Exchange 2003: Exchange System Manager – Recipients – Details Templates

 

 

 

Make sure you select the language that corresponds to the language you have Outlook installed in (and not the language you see if you have a language pack installed) and the type of template you are interested in changing (user/contact).

 

In Exchange 2007 it is pretty simple to modify and your intuition should be enough:

  

 

 

Therefore, we will insist on Exchange 2003:

After you select the language, double-click the template you want to modify, then go to the Templates tab. No fear, the “Original” button is there to reset everything if you don’t like your work of  art.

In the list, you will see 4 types of Controls:

-          Page Break – defines the beginning of a tab in the template (General, Organization, Phone/Notes, Member Of, E-mail Addresses).

-          Group box – defines a box contour if you want to separate fields into categories; the default template has the Name group box that contains First, Initials, Last, Display and Alias fields.

-          Label – is the ID of the field, the name in front of it

-          Edit – is the actual box that will contain contact’s information

For each of these controls, you have:

-          X and Y which represent the coordinates (the position) of the entry

-          W(idth) and H(ight) – the dimensions of the box

-          Value

 

While you can modify the text of the Label in any way that you want, when modifying the text box (Edit Controls), you can only select from a given list. This is because Exchange needs to identify the value of the specified attribute for the users in Active Directory and fill it in for you in the template. Here you can also specify the length of the box (number of maximum characters displayed) and if the textbox should be multiline or not (by default Exchange does not do text wrap so you will only see the text that fits on a single line; if you have a large amount of information do display, like for example in the Address field, you should tick the Multiline box).

 

One more thing to know is that if you remove or add fields to the template, the tabulation key may be changed. The order in which the fields will be selected by using the Tab key is given by the order of the Edit controls in the list and you can configure it by selecting one entry and using the Move Up or Move Down buttons on the right.

 

Note: You should be able to see the changes immediately with Outlook running in Online mode, but you need a full OAB download for the template to be updated in Cached mode.

 

As a personal recommendation, you should always keep the corresponding Label and Edit entries next to each other in the list. This will prove useful for others (or even to you after a long enough period of time) to understand the modifications you made.

 

Play nicely and don’t forget to Test before hitting Apply!