[Exchange] Email and Calendar FAQ


What is Exchange?

Exchange is a robust feature-rich messaging environment developed by Microsoft. Exchange provides e-mail, calendar, tasks and contacts.

What are the benefits of Exchange?

Benefits of Exchange include:

  • Single application (Outlook) integration of e-mail, calendar, tasks and contacts.
  • Drag and drop integration of Outlook and other MS Office productivity applications.
  • Full-featured Web interface (very similar to Outlook).
  • Ability to set scheduled delivery of messages to individuals or lists.
  • Ability to recall or expire messages you send if they are unread by the recipient.
  • Real time updates for most mobile devices via Mobile Access and ActiveSync.
  • Any IMAP client will work (but enhanced features may not be supported).

How do I get a UNC e-mail account?

Please visit the How to Get a UNC-email Account document.

Is there a Web client?

Yes, there is Web access at https://outlook.unc.edu.  Using Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari you’ll get a full-featured Outlook client.

What is the preferred e-mail client?

Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013, or 2011 for Mac are the preferred e-mail clients. For more detailed information on specific email clients, visit the University Recommended Exchange Email/Calendar Client document.

What is the difference between Exchange and Outlook?

Exchange is the messaging server. Outlook is the MS desktop e-mail client.

I’m a Mac user. What client will I be using?

Any IMAP client such as Mac Mail or Thunderbird for Mac is compatible with Exchange. There is native support for Exchange in Outlook for Mac or if you are running Snow Leopard, there is native support for Exchange in Mac Mail, iCal and Contacts.

For configuration instructions visit these documents:

If I don’t like Outlook, will I still be able to use my old e-mail client?

You can still use any IMAP compliant client for e-mail only, but at the cost of integration with the calendar. You will need to use Outlook or outlook.unc.edu for calendar functions.

What is an email alias and how do I create one?

Email Aliasing: Email Addresses Made Easier

Email addresses can be difficult to remember, resulting in mistakes when people try to send you email. But good news! You can request an easy-to-remember nickname (alias) for your email address.

The alias consists of your first and last name separated by an underscore and followed by @unc.edu. For example, Jane Doe may have an email address doe@email.unc.edu. The alias for that address could be jane_doe@unc.edu. When messages are sent to the alias, they automatically go to your real email address. You can have up to a total of five (5) aliases. An alias can be paired with only one email address at a time. Therefore, if you change email addresses after you’ve received an alias, go to https://onyen.unc.edu and choose Set email alias and change the alias to point to your new address. Your alias won’t change–just where your email is delivered. The best part is, if you’re using an alias and you change your email address, you won’t have to notify any of your correspondents, change your letterhead, or change your business cards!

Things to Consider

All aliases must be unique. For example, three William Smiths can’t all use william_smith@unc.edu as their alias. Instead, one could use william_smith@unc.edu, another could use bill_smith@unc.edu, and the third could be will_smith@unc.edu. If the alias you’ve requested is already being used, you’ll get a message requesting you to choose another. Also, you are not allowed to create an alias and have it point to an off-campus address. For example, if you try to create the alias Hinton_James@unc.edu and point that to unc-chapel_hill@yahoo.com, you won’t be allowed to do so.

Create an Alias

To create an alias go to https://onyen.unc.edu and choose Set email alias and login to the Email Self Service Tool with your onyen and password. Please follow the instructions on Email Self Service Tool document to create an Alias.

Note: You can have up to 5 aliases. If you reach this limit, you will be promted with a red box on the Emails Self Service Tool. To create a new alias, you must either change an existing alias, or remove one, and then add the other alias.

Forgotten Your Alias?

If you forget your alias, go to https://onyen.unc.edu and choose Set Email Alias. Enter your Onyen and password when prompted, and click the My Aias Tab then Show Alias to review your alias listing. Please visit the Email Self Service Tool document for more Information.

Alternatively, browse to the Campus Directory Search page. Select Update Entry to the left and enter your Onyen and password when prompted. When you see the Campus Directory Update page, you will see your information listed there. In the Email: box toward the upper-left, click the drop-down arrow to see all the aliases that are associated with you.

Migration Process

What is the migration process?

Each departmental unit will determine its own migration process. Your department’s unit coordinator will work with ITS to facilitate its processes and schedule for email migration. Coordinators will also work with ITS to resolve any challenges that arise. More information regarding IMAP email access and converting address books can be found at the corresponding links.

What if our department does not have unit-specific IT Support?

Contact Kathleen Kyzer by email at kathy_kyzer@unc.edu for further assistance.

Will my email address change?

No. Although we recommend use of an “unc.edu” alias address, full @email.unc.edu email addresses will still be supported.

How are aliases handled?

The ‘Set E-mail Alias’ button allows a user to create an alias for ad.unc.edu accounts.

For more information on aliases, refer to the What is an Alias and How Do I Create One? document.

What is the quota on my UNC Exchange email account? What does the 2GB quota include, and what if my inbox is over 2 GB?

ITS will enforce the 2GB quota, which includes your calendar, inbox, sent mail, deleted items, RSS feeds and all folders associated with your e-mail account. Exceeding this limit will result in various quota warnings. For more information on the quota, visit the UNC Email Quota document.

For Exchange users who require more than 2GB, ITS provided an extended quota option. For more information on the extended quota option, visit the Quota Extension Service document.

How do I increase my email space allocation?

ITS policy provides each individual email account 2.0 gigabytes of email storage. This space quota is not strictly enforced so you can make requests for additional space by following the instructions on the Quota Extension Service document.

Visit the What is the quota on my Onyen email account? document for current information on email space quotas.

What happens if in the future my mailbox exceeds 2GB?

Quota statuses and the resulting messages are processed nightly. The quota messages are always sent with high importance and are not subject to storage quotas. The message will include a graphical representation of the storage quota and the amount used.

Users nearing and exceeding the 2 GB quota will receive the following warnings:

  • Warning: 1945 MB is the threshold: “You are approaching your mailbox quota. Please reduce your mailbox size. Delete any items you don’t need from your mailbox and empty your Deleted Items folder. If you do not decrease the size of your mailbox, your ability to send and receive e-mails will be compromised. If you need assistance, please contact 962-HELP.”
  • Prohibition of Send: 2048 MB is the threshold. “You have exceeded the 2 GB quota. As a result, your mailbox can no longer send messages. Please reduce your mailbox size immediately. Delete any items you don’t need from your mailbox and empty your Deleted Items folder. If you need assistance, please contact 962-HELP.”
  • Prohibition of Send and Receive: 2355 MB is the threshold. “You received a previous warning that your mailbox exceeded the 2 GB quota. Since you did not take any action to reduce your mailbox, your mailbox can no longer send or receive messages. Please reduce your mailbox size immediately. Delete any items you do not need from your mailbox and empty your Deleted Items folder. If you need assistance, please contact 962-HELP.” “Bounce” message that a sender receives when a target recipient is over quota to the point where receiving messages is prohibited (5.2.2: DSN mailbox full): “The recipient’s mailbox is full and cannot accept messages now. Microsoft Exchange will not try to redeliver this message for you. Please try resending this message later, or contact the recipient by another method.”

Do I still use Webmail?

No the existing Webmail service points to IMAP. Exchange provides a feature rich web client that can be found at https://outlook.unc.edu.

If I have questions or problems, what do I do?

Call 962-HELP or submit an Online Help Request.

What happens when an account is not included as part of the migration?

This clarifies what happens when an account (either a user or a resource) is not included in the migration.

There are many reasons why this can happen, such as, the account is incorrectly mapped, the account is disabled, or the account is not provisioned. Regardless of why the account was excluded, that account will not have any data (calendar items, tasks, and contacts, if available.) If that user existed in isolation, the impact would be limited to that user. But the value of calendaring is in the connection among people, i.e. it has a ‘state’ for each guest. This differs from email, which is stateless. After we define a few terms, I’ll discuss the implications.


Appointment – An item that appears on a user’s calendar. It could be a one-time event, or a recurring event. Regardless, the only person associated with this event is the account owner. Like email, it is effectively stateless because only this user owns it.

Meeting – Is an appointment that has guests (also called attendees). Said another way, an appointment becomes a meeting when it has an organizer with a valid Exchange mailbox account, and one or more guests with a valid Exchange mailbox account. Without guests, meetings are appointments. Further, each guest has a state.

State – Exchange tracks the responses for each of those guests. This response tracking is called state.

Meeting organizer – The person who created or chairs the meeting and any changes or updates to the meeting (e.g., new location, time, agenda, additional attendees, etc.) must come from the organizer. Guest state is defined from the meeting organizer’s calendar – NOT from the guest’s calendar.

Live meeting – A live meeting has a meeting organizer and a guest list. It can be changed or updated by the meeting organizer, and those changes will appear on all guest’s calendars (this also include conference rooms).

Archived Meeting – A Sumatra concept; this is a live meeting that has completed and has been converted to an appointment by removing all of the attendees and locations from the meeting. To maintain calendar fidelity, a copy of the appointment is placed in each user’s calendar. However, if the meeting organizer decides to change (or cancel) meeting, no attendee will receive those changes or cancellation notices (because all attendees have been removed from the calendar item). (Of course, since the meeting has completed you should not be modifying the meeting anyway!)

Validated Accounts – The user (or room) account is enabled in Active Directory, it has a mailbox (and is mail-enabled), and has calendar, task, and contact folders, and the service account that has been granted permissions to operate the Sumatra tool can “see” the mailbox.

If a user’s account does not migrate, the user’s calendar data will not be added into Exchange.

User’s Appointments: No one will miss the user’s appointments because those appointments are only on the user’s calendar.

Organized Meetings: If the user organized any meetings, those events will not be on anyone’s calendar, because that event was never created in Exchange, nor any meeting invitations generated.

Attended Meetings: For meetings the user was invited to, the name will not appear in the guest list. Again, because the user’s account was undefined or inaccessible, so the user was not added to the meeting (this avoids lots of undeliverable mail messages).

Exchange calendaring is a messaging protocol. If there is no user to originate the meeting (and send out a meeting message), or to receive the meeting invitation (message), then the meeting between these people does not exist.

How do I migrate my old e-mails to Exchange?

In order to migrate your UNC IMAP data to Exchange, please visit the Email Self Service Tool document.

Using Exchange

Once I'm on the Exchange mail system, can I still access my old mail and folders?

Yes, you can still access your old mail through your IMAP mail client. You can still use your old mail client or use webmail.unc.edu until October 2011.

In Exchange what is the largest message size for incoming and outgoing mail?

There is a 50 MB limit for both incoming and outgoing mail. If the file is a zipped file, the unzipped file must be under 50 MB.

What is the limit on the number of recipients for a message in Exchange?

The maximum number of recipients for a message is 5000. However, it is not recommended to send a message to that many people at once and a list of alternatives are provided here.

I see that the Outlook client allows me to ‘recall’ a message if I send a message accidentally. Can I really do that?

While the Outlook client allows you to recall a message if the recipients are also on Exchange and have not yet opened the message, the recipient will get a message stating that you recalled a specific message. Using ‘recall’ is not recommended.  For more information, please visit the How to recall a message in Outlook? document.

If I delete an email message in Microsoft Outlook (Campus Exchange), is there any way to get it back?

In Exchange permanently deleted email messages are not backed up by the UNC email system. They are retained in a special place for emails removed entirely from the Outlook interface and it is not the deleted items container in Outlook. By default the deleted emails are available for a retention period of 14 days and can be restored in this time.

See the following links for instructions on recovering deleted emails:

Can I forward Exchange e-mail to external mail domains such as Gmail and Yahoo?

No, a pending university policy prohibits faculty and staff from automatically forwarding e-mail to all but UNC e-mail systems.

Will I still have access to my shared mailboxes?

Shared mailboxes are still available. Please visit the How to Access Shared Mailboxes document for more information.

Submit an Online Help Request or call 962-HELP to request an Exchange shared mailbox.

How do I access my shared mailboxes in Exchange?

Please visit the How to Access Shared Mailboxes document for information.

How to Configure a Shared Mailbox as an Outlook Profile?

Please visit the Configuring a Shared Mailbox as an Outlook Profile document for information.

How do I configure a Shared Folder?

Please visit the Configuring Shared Folders document for information.

How do I view message headers in Outlook?

Please visit Microsoft’s Viewing E-mail Message Headers document for information.

How to Set Free/Busy Options in Outlook?

Please visit the Setting Free/Busy Options in Outlook document for information.

What are Permission Levels in Outlook?

Please visit the What are Permission Levels in Outlook document for information.

How do I setup my email signature in Outlook?

Please click on the version you are using for Outlook Web App, 2010, or 2013.

Can I set up a vacation autoresponder for my email account when I am away?

Yes. ITS provides an e-mail vacation service that automatically responds to senders of your incoming e-mail messages with a message notifying them that you are away and/or unable to read your e-mail. This service is only provided for the campus centralized e-mail service, @email.unc.edu accounts.

For additional information, including instructions on how to set up the vacation service, see the Email Vacation Service document.

Why do my attachments show up in the body of an email when I am using Outlook?

Attachments to an email message may appear in two ways within Outlook. If the email is created using Rich Text formatting, the attachments are moved into the body of the email. If the email is created using HTML formatting, the attachments are attached as a file.


How do I “Create, view, or delete a calendar group”?

Please visit Microsoft’s Create, View, or Delete a Calendar Group document for information.

How do I “Allow someone else to manage your mail and calendar”?


Will my connection to the Exchange server be encrypted over public networks?

The ITS Exchange server requires transport layer security (TLS) for thick clients and for clients using Outlook Web Access. Be aware that mail server to mail server communications, such as Exchange to Google, etc…or to other UNC-CH departments, are typically not encrypted.

Does Exchange scan attachments to check for bombs and viruses?

All mail goes through Iron-Port just like it does now. However, there is an additional layer of virus and spam scanning within Exchange. If this secondary layer catches a message, the message will be delivered to your ‘Junk E-mail’ folder.

Mobile Devices

How can I configure my iOS/Android Device for Exchange?

For instructions please visit the following Exchange configuration documents:

I have already configured my personal mobile device to point to Gmail with active sync. Can I also use Exchange with my mobile device?

Most mobile devices only support one ActiveSync connection per device; however some newer mobile devices may support multiple ActiveSync connections and most devices support multiple IMAP connections. You can connect to your email with Exchange via an IMAP connection.

Other Questions

Since migrating to Exchange, when I post to a listserv I am subscribed to, the post does not publish, nor do I receive a bounce back message or notification that the message wasn’t posted.

To post to a listserv you are subscribed to, you will need to ensure that you are subscribed with the same e-mail ID [or alias] that is published in the UNC Directory (http://www.unc.edu/dir). If your directory listing is different than your listserv ID, you will need to contact the listserv administrator to re-subscribe you, using the address listed in the UNC Directory.

Is the POP3 e-mail protocol supported?

No, POP3 is not supported.

I’m a Linux user, what are my options for an e-mail and calendar client?

Any IMAP compatible client will work for e-mail. For calendaring, you can use outlook.unc.edu. Many users have reported success with using Evolution, although it is not officially supported.

What is the maximum number of recipients for an e-mail message?

The maximum number of recipients for an e-mail message sent through Exchange (outlook.unc.edu) is 5000 recipients and HeelMail (heelmail.unc.edu) is 500 recipients.

Alternatives for sending messages to 100+ recipients

  • If you do not have an Exchange account:
  • Split up the recipient list and send multiple email messages each with up to 100 recipients
  • Set up a mailing list to send out the email messages. See How can I create an announcement-only list? or the List Server main page for more information about setting up a mailing list.
  • Finally, if you need to send the email message out to a large portion of the campus, you should consider using the UNC Mass Mail system. Be sure to read the Mass Email Policy before making a request.

Known Issues

Why do I receive a synchronization error about deleted items in Outlook 2010?

The issue occurs when Outlook 2010 is connected to an Exchange 2010 account. The problem happens by deleting an item, then shortly after emptying your deleted items folder on Outlook 2010. Outlook will not sync with the Exchange Server before the deleted items folder is emptied, so when it sends the command to the Exchange server to empty the deleted items folder, the items are not there to empty.

For further information on the issue please see the Microsoft thread, the thread includes some responses from Microsoft Full Time employees.


Why has my auto-complete stopped working in Outlook 2010?

The auto-complete is a local desktop client issue and no way related to the server. The auto-complete will not fill out an email address when typing the email address. This issue occurs because the pst file associated with the email account which Outlook 2010 uses to connect to your account has been corrupted. This file can be fixed by running a repair tool called “scanpst.exe”. Please visit Help Desk Geek’s Outlook 2010 Autocomplete Not Working or Reseting document for more information about this issue and Repair PST File section for instructions on repairing the pst file.

What is a vCard?

A vCard is the digital equivalent of a business card. vCards can be used to represent email or mobile contacts, allowing for a standard format of detailed information that goes beyond just name, email address and/or phone number. Once a vCard is imported to a program, it can be traded through various methods as attachments to emails or as downloadable contact information from a website such as the UNC Directory. vCards will commonly be used at UNC in email clients such as Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird. Likewise, vCards are compatible with most phones, so vCards may be used as the contact information for phone contacts. For more information, see Wikipedia’s vCard article.

How do I download a vCard from the UNC Directory?

Once you have found the directory entry you are searching for, the entry will have a link at the bottom of the page called “Download vCard”. Click the link and you can choose to “save” it to your computer or “open” it with your default vCard program. If you open it with a program like Microsoft Outlook, the vCard Entry will open as a contact entry where you can add information to it if you want. After viewing the card, be sure to save it so that it is now available as one of your contacts. On most mobile devices, there will be similar options for saving the vCard as a contact. If you choose to initially save the vCard to your computer or mobile device without opening it, you may need to use import options in your program of choice for using the card so the contact is properly imported to the program.

Why should I use vCards?

Since vCards store all of the public directory information for a particular contact, you may find it easier to reference data such as secondary phone numbers or location information without going back to the directory to look it up. This detailed information might not have been readily useful when you were only looking for a phone number or email address. Likewise, the vCard is easy to attach to an email if you are instructing someone to get in touch with another person. You would attach the vCard instead of typing out the contact information manually. The vCard can also be used as your signature in email clients, making the format of your signature uniform and consistent with many other university email users as well as providing more in-depth contact information to those you communicate with.

What if I change my information in the directory?

If your information in the directory is changed, you may need to delete your current vCard and download the new one because the vCards are dynamically created at the moment you download them. All of the vCards from the UNC directory contain a link to the original location of the card, so you can open the vCard from your contacts and follow the link to get the newest version of the card. Some programs automatically check back with the original location and automatically refresh any new data. You will need to research your particular application to find out if it does this.

IMAP Email Access

As of January 3, 2012, the IMAP Email Server is no longer in use and all email accounts have been permanently archived or deleted. All email accounts of UNC affiliates have been transitioned to either the Exchange email server or the HeelMail (live.unc.edu) email server. If you have difficulty accessing the new email systems or have questions about the email migration, please contact the 962-Help Service desk.

How do I convert my address book?

The University has transitioned from the UNC IMAP (Webmail) system to either Campus Exchange (http://outlook.unc.edu) or HeelMail (http://live.unc.edu). Please follow the instructions on the respective documents to convert your address book in the table below.

Address Book Conversion Documents

Email Client (UNC IMAP)







Med School (IMAP) webmail.med.unc.edu