Why & How User can Convert Distribution Group to Shared Mailbox?

A Distribution Group in an Exchange Server is a mail-enabled group (Active Directory group) with assigned members who receives emails from a single email address. It means they receive information via email which can be rolled on to multiple user mailboxes in the group with a common email address. The user with access rights can remove or add the members in the distribution group anytime.

On the other hand, a shared mailbox in the Exchange organization is the one which can be used by multiple users with their Outlook profiles configured with the shared mailbox to send or receive the email messages. To use the shared mailbox, users must have Full access, Send As, Send of Behalf permissions assigned by the administrator.

As you have understood the use of a distribution group and a shared mailbox in an Exchange organization, then you can also understand why many Exchange users are shifting from distribution groups to shared mailboxes. The reason is probably to increase more flexibility for the users as they can send the emails also along with receiving with a common address which can be done only with a shared mailbox. as the email sent from the user of the Distribution Group will be displayed from the user mailbox email address only and not from the Distribution Group email address. Also, the Shared Mailbox can be accessed within Outlook application and on OWA in the Web Browser. So, here we come with the conversion solution for you in the next section.

Convert Distribution Group to Shared Mailbox via Exchange Management Shell

This is the only manual way to achieve this conversion of a distribution group to a shared mailbox. The user has to fulfill the following pre-requirements for this method.

  • User must have administrative rights
  • Note down distribution group email address
  • Learn how to access the Exchange Management Shell and run commands in it

Once these needs are fulfilled, follow this procedure to get the conversion.

1. Go to your Exchange System and run the Exchange Management Shell application as an administrator.

2. First step is to collect the legayExchangeDN information about the distribution group which you opt for the conversion process. You need to run this command for it.

Get-DistributionGroup <distribution group email address> | fl legacyexchangednEnter the email address of the distribution group in place of <distribution group email address>

Note: Provide the distribution group email address for conversion in the above command in place of <distribution group email address>.

Copy the Output of the above command to the notepad or any other document for further use.

3. If you want that the same members of the distribution group should be the member of the converted shared mailbox, you can move the list of group members along with cache through a variable ($users).

$users = Get-DistributionGroupMember <distribution group email address>
$users.primarysmtpaddress | Out-File users.txt

4. Now, that users.txt contents are verified, it is the time to delete the distribution group which you can perform with this command.

Remove-DistributionGroup <distribution group email address> -Confirm:$false
5. Let the Exchange Management Shell session be opened and create a shared mailbox using Exchange Management Shell with the same SMTP address. Use this command:

New-Mailbox <shared mailbox name> –shared –userprincipalname <shared mailbox user principal name>

In the above command, enter the name of shared mailbox in place of <shared mailbox name> and provide user principal name address in place of <shared mailbox user principal name>.
A new shared mailbox is created, now run this command further to assign the access rights.

foreach ($user in $users) {
Add-MailboxPermission <shared mailbox email address> -User $user.primarysmtpaddress -AccessRights fullaccess
}

Note: In case you have closed the Exchange Management Shell session and then created a shared mailbox, you are required to run this command instead of the above to assign the full access rights.

foreach ($user in (Get-Content users.txt)) {
Add-MailboxPermission <shared mailbox email address> -User $user -AccessRights fullaccess
}

6. The final command which user is required to execute is to save the legacyExchangeDn value documented earlier in the first command with x500 proxy for the shared mailbox for the purpose of synchronizing internal routing.

Set-Mailbox <shared mailbox email address> -EmailAddresses @{add=’x500:insertlegacyexchangedn’}

Or users can go to the Exchange Admin Center and move to recipients>shared. Select the newly created shared mailbox name and click on plus icon. Then select the third option and provide the details like X500 and the email address copied from the first step.

So, this was the technical method to convert distribution group to shared mailbox. The method seems complex, quite lengthy and cannot afford even a minor mistake. So, proper training and carefulness is needed to perform this method. Otherwise the results would not be achieved rather you might face another issue due to mishandling of the commands such as data loss, corruption, etc.

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Conclusion

Exchange Server allows its users to communicate through different mediums which include Distribution Groups and Shared Mailboxes. Both are composed of users as members who can share information among them via emails but due to more mail flow flexibility in Shared Mailbox medium, the administrators seek conversion from Distribution Lists to it which can be achieved manually using certain Exchange Settings and Exchange Management Shell cmdlets.