Audit your Outlook calendar permissions

Audit your Outlook calendar permissions

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By default, others within your organization can only see whether you are free or busy for a particular timeslot.  In theory, people should check whether you are available before scheduling an appointment with you, although nobody seems to do that for me.  Hooray for double and triple-booking!

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That said, it is possible to let others see more information about your calendar appointments.  This can be useful in allowing a co-worker to see details about your calendar so that they do not schedule over an important meeting with a VIP.  This can also be dangerous in a world where personal appointments often make their way onto the work calendar.  Do you really want your co-workers to see the following appointment?

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I just took a look at who had permissions to my calendar, and it was a wide array of folks that I have worked with over the last 3-4 years, and very few of them have a business need to see the actual contents of my calendar anymore.  So… here are a few places you can check your permissions in Outlook 2010 (the process should be relatively similar in Outlook 2007, but I only run the latest and greatest ;)

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When sharing your calendar, you have the option of choosing how much information is shared with the recipient.

  • Availability Only: Time will be shown as “Free,” “Busy,” “Tentative,” or “Out of Office”
  • Limited Details: Includes the availability and subjects of calendar items
  • Full Details: Includes the availability and full details of calendar items

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Keep in mind that whatever permissions you give will be given until they are revoked (and if you don’t check regularly, people could have permissions for years after you grant them). 

The Full Details option will allow others to open the appointments on your calendar and see the contents.  This can be dangerous if you attach e-mails about performance reviews, personal medical information, or other sensitive information  to a calendar invite.  It is a best practice to give the minimal permissions needed for your co-workers to do their job.

The “Publish Online” option allows you to publish your calendar to Office.com, and has similar privacy settings.  I would be very leery of publishing anything other than “Availability only” to the broader internet.  I would also recommend using the “Only invited users can subscribe to this calendar”.

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The final (and important) button on the calendar ribbon is “Calendar Permissions”.  This is where you can check and set permissions that have been granted.  I see that I have changed my default permissions to allow for people to be able to see my meeting subjects and locations, which is probably more information that I really want to share with 90,000 of my closest friends at Microsoft.  I also see that I have 30-40 people with explicit permissions to see my calendar, many of whom are now on other teams or that do not a good reason to be able to see my calendar.  This is where you will want to remove their explicit permissions or give lower permission levels.

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Finally, there may be appointments (such as the aforementioned embarrassing doctor appointment) that you do not want to share with anyone, regardless of their permissions.  You can open any appointment in Outlook, and on the right hand side of the ribbon, there is a small “Private” option.  Click this, and only you will be able to see the appointment.  Everyone else will just see “Private Appointment” on your calendar.

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Comments
  • Hi Sean,

    This was very helpful, thanks!

    I still haven't been able to answer one question about Outlook 2010: in older versions, I could give ppl permission to view my private items as well. Is that gone from 2010?

    Thanks!

  • How do you give someone complete access to your calendar to where when they set up something it won't keep sending 'Accept/Decline' notices?

  • Hello,

    I just wanted to check if you have any idea about after setting the permissions on calendar (Granting access to some users on mailbox calendar) is there any way to export out the permissions to audit who has got what permissions on which calendar?

  • Tnx,really useful.

  • I have done all of this and still people can see my Subject and Location of all of my meetings.  Any suggestions?

  • Hi,

    cheers for the post..nice one...The read permission, which grants the ability to read a file. When set for a directory, this permission grants the ability to read the names of files in the directory (but not to find out any further information about them such as contents, file type, size, ownership, permissions, etc.)

  • Hi

    I've started a new job and my boss has requested access to my Outlook diary, which is fine. I know to check the privacy button from here on in. But I really don't want her viewing my appointment for the last six months. Is there any way I can set a time range for access, or do I need to go back and mark previous appts as private?

    Thanks

  • Hey,

    Is there any way to cancel the permissions? I have granted full access to one of my colleague, but I want to change it back to limited. How to do that?

    Thanks!

  • I have editor rights to my managers outlook. But I cannot make some of his appointments private. Why is this?

  • I'm not allowed to enter a birthday date on the Birthday calendar. It says I need to right-click on the folder and then properties but it only gives me the General Tab; how can I get permission to be able to use this calendars for birthdays only? I'm the only user of this pc.

  • Please be aware that third party clients like Thunderbird Addons (addons.mozilla.org/.../lightning and addons.mozilla.org/.../provider-for-google-calendar) can access appointments marked as private. MS says this is the clients fault and not a security issue on Exchange/Outlook side, although I feel it the other way round. So if you grant more than AvailabilityOnly, private appintments can be read. The option is actually not a security setting as the levels of permissions mentioned at the beginning of this article. A workaround can be found here: office.microsoft.com/.../make-an-appointment-or-meeting-private-HP003074129.aspx

    But still I feel this option should become part of the security settings.

  • Do you have this information for 2013 please?

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