Exchange Online: How to use aliases so that customers don’t know who you are

It is strange that Outlook and Exchange used make it difficult to use more than one email address within an account. There are many reasons to have multiple addresses, or hide a personal address. It could be that you are sharing your customer contact email with multiple users in a CRM system, or working through a merger between two companies. Or maybe you want to protect the privacy of users who work on confidential products.

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Exchange Aliases

It doesn’t matter what reason it may be, staff are increasingly being given more than one address. Exchange has made it difficult to send messages with alternate identities until recently.

This was largely due to Exchange’s mail transfer agents, which are the codes that send email out to the various mail servers that make up the internet. It was designed to only allow one email address per user and all information tied to that account. You cannot send an email to an alias or an alternate email address. It will be overwritten with your primary email address before it is sent over SMTP.

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This approach would work if Exchange was used within a company. Support emails would appear as though they were sent from an alias, since they wouldn’t leave the cluster or server. It is possible to allow aliases to be sent but not received. Users could then send mail from their correct address and redirect it.

Email is now more than a way to connect parts of a company – it is how we do business. A alias is an important part of these processes, especially with the increasing use of email-powered tools such as Microsoft 365’s Bookings.

Both Exchange Online and on-premises Exchange have had aliases built in for years. An individual can have up to 400 different aliases. This does not affect the price you pay. Aliases don’t belong to shared mailboxes, distribution lists or other types of addresses. They are individual addresses that can be used for routing mail to specific mailboxes.

Distribution lists can be used to send, route, and receive email. However, they do not offer the same control as individual user aliases or shared mailboxes. Although there were low-level methods that allowed Exchange users to send mail as aliases using SMTP commands that were specific to their email application, these techniques required custom email applications and not Outlook.

Exchange Online: Managing Aliases

Aliases for active users

It is easy to create aliases with the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. Before adding an alias for a user, check that you have other domains configured.

Select Active Users from the Navigation Pane in the Admin Center. After this page opens, click on a user to open their user pane. To add an alias, you can click Manage Username and Email. You can enter any username, and choose any domain. To create an alias, click on Save Changes after you have completed the configuration.

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Alternative domains

You will need to set up alternative domains with the correct DNS settings in order to use them for Microsoft 365 accounts. This involves adding them to your Microsoft 365 Account using the Setup Tools in Admin Center.

After adding the domain to your account, verify it with a TXT Record in the domain’s DNS Records before you configure MX records to send mail through the Microsoft 365 Exchange Online service. You must first configure the domain’s SPF, DKIM, and DMARC antispam features at your DNS server if you plan to send mail through it.

Change of corporate name

You could also give team accounts aliases so that all possible versions of a team’s name, such as “accountspayable,” or “accounts.payable,” will end up in the same mailbox account. You might want to look at your mail logs and see if you have any common errors that could be used to trap important addresses.

Outlook allows you to send mail under an alias

Exchange Online has added preview support for messages being sent using aliases in a recent update. Initially, you need to use PowerShell to set the SendFromAliasEnabled parameter of the Set-OrganizationConfig cmdlet. This will enable full alias support across all mailboxes. There is currently no way to do this for specific users or groups.

After it is enabled, you can use a new version SMTP. Microsoft points out that it is in preview at the moment, due to known issues that could cause problems in certain cases. The new feature is not available in Exchange on-premises, so users who use it will not be able send aliases.

The new feature is not supported by all Exchange email clients. It’s currently supported by the mobile Outlook clients for iOS and Android, as well as Outlook on the Web. Desktop Outlook support is expected sometime in Q2 2022. However, it has yet to be available.

When you compose messages on the internet, the From field must be shown. There is a dropdown list of available aliases. Mobile devices require you to enter an alias manually, but it will be saved for future reference. It will be available for desktop Outlook. You can keep a list with commonly used aliases. This should make it easier to choose the right alias.

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After you have set up support, users will find it easy to use aliases. They can hide their personal addresses or use nicknames and alternate domains to make sure that email arrives to them.