Ask the Expert

Can an administrator view another user's mailbox?

I am running Exchange 2000 Server. Do I have the ability as an administrator to view another user's mailbox? I know I can open another user's mailbox from Microsoft Outlook, but I need to see the Sent Items folder.

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No. Aside from giving yourself permissions, creating a MAPI profile and logging in via Microsoft Outlook, this is not possible. With compliance and privacy playing such an important role in many organizations today, this would open up all sorts of liability and risk from a business perspective.

Regardless of method, reading email from users on your Exchange messaging infrastructure should always be done only with proper authority and preferably with an audit trail of some sort to protect you, other Exchange administrators and the end users in your organization.


First, well done -- this is an excellent source of information on Exchange Server.

I read your reply with interest and wondered if there was indeed a built in audit trail or tool available to track the Exchange administrator viewing other user's email.

Please let me know. Thank you so much!
—Ebrahim P.


Unfortunately, there is no real way of doing this in Exchange Server. The closest you'll get would be to experiment with diagnostics logging settings on MS Exchange IS Private and then trolling the application event log for the events created when someone logs onto a secondary mailbox. But as yet, I haven't heard of anyone who has figured out a way to do this which meets typical audit requirements.
David Sengupta, Server Administration Expert


I don't know if this is 'on topic' or not, but I was able to assign myself permissions as a delegate. I was then able to use Outlook Web Access (OWA) to directly access the Inbox, sent items, calendar, etc., by simply going to

Maybe I missed the question, but I was looking for the same type of mailbox access and I am now able to do so very easily.
—Matt A.

Do you have comments on this Ask the Expert Q&A? Let us know.

Related information from

  • Tip: Establishing mailbox audit trails on Exchange
  • Reference Center: Exchange Server permissions
  • This was first published in August 2005

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