Send a Teams meeting invitation from a group mailbox

Teams is very much a personal tool. You see only your own calendar and if you organize a Teams meeting, the invitation is coming from you, and you can only attend as yourself.
But…sometimes you want to send the invitation from a mailbox that does not disclose your name.

There are (as far as I know) two ways to make that happen:

1. Schedule in Teams and forward meeting link

  • Schedule the meeting from your own Teams Calendar
  • Adjust meeting options if needed
  • Copy the meeting link
  • Create an invitation from the group mailbox
  • Paste the link into the invitation
  • Send to all participants
It is easy to find the meeting link: When you have created the meeting, rightclick “Click here to join the meeting” and copy.
  • 👍 Keeps your name out of the invitation
  • 👍 Teams meetings are accessible to all who have the link, so no need to worry about lack of access
  • 👍 You will be able to access the meeting as an organizer and be able to make adjustments during the meeting if needed, e.g. if you need a report of attendees or if it is important to make a “hard stop” to the meeting.
  • 👎 Some extra steps of copying and pasting the link

2. Schedule in Outlook from group mailbox

  • Schedule a meeting from Outlook
  • Add a Teams meeting
  • Send to all participants
  • IMPORTANT: Adjust meeting options NOW if needed
  • 👍 Keeps your name out of the invitation
  • 👍 Easy
  • 👎 The group mailbox is the organizer now, and that mailbox has no Teams account. This means that the meeting will have to be done without an organizer, so nobody will be able to adjust the meeting options during the meeting, end the meeting or download the attendee report.

What is best?

There are plenty of meetings where the organizer is not missed. We schedule our training webinars with the second option and that works perfectly well.

For larger or very important meetings you may want to read my post about the importance of the organizer first to see if you think there may be a need to do “organizer things” during the meeting. Perhaps you only need to adjust the meeting options beforehand.

Meeting options – they may need adjusting before the meeting.

I am often asked if you can delegate the organizer role and the answer is NO. In fact, Teams does not do delegation well, as Tony Redmond confirms in his recent useful post.

Have you come across this requirement and how are you dealing with this? Happy to learn new tricks!

Some quirks of the F3 license

When people talk or write about Microsoft 365 Outlook, Word or Excel, they generally mean the desktop versions.

However, there are Microsoft365 subscriptions that provide only the web and mobile versions of things. With the ongoing improvements of the web apps these subscriptions are getting better and better.

Most of my therapist colleagues have the Microsoft365 F3 license, which is a good fit for people who mostly work with patients and use dedicated medical software as their main application. F3 has web and mobile apps only.

While the comparison with the Microsoft E3 license (which most secretaries and staff have) clearly display most of the limitations of the F3, (albeit in the small print) there’s a few unmentioned “surprises” so let me list all that we have found so far, while providing support to our F3 collagues.

1. No desktop apps

This is the most obvious limitation. I think Word and Outlook for the web are both pretty good and getting better all the time, but some advanced functions are only available in the desktop apps, e.g. creation of scientific literature citations, or creation of a book index in Word.
An overview of the differences:

2. Storage for Outlook and OneDrive: 2 GB

Yes, it is mentioned quite clearly (also in our own support materials) but we regularly get questions from people who have almost reached the limit. All we can do is provide them with help to clean up their Outlook and OneDrive.

This is also the reason why I was not happy with the recent change to store Teams meeting recordings to OneDrive.

3. You can not upload a video to Stream

Just to be clear: F3 people can consume videos from Stream but not create them. It is mentioned in the comparison. I do not really get this. Are F3 users not expected to share any videos? Not even of training materials or a team get-together? We have a few colleagues who like to do vlogs for their colleagues – no Stream for them. 😢

Fortunately, OneDrive and SharePoint now have good video players so I guess it will not be a big problem, apart from the storage space allocation.
It does make me wonder what Stream is good for, then.

With the E3 and other licenses, there’s an upload option top right. No such thing for the F3.

4. Recorded Teams meetings go nowhere

We made the change from storage in Stream to OneDrive and SharePoint early, because we knew that F3-users can not upload anything to Stream. If an F3 recorded a meeting, they got an error message.
So we thought: “Well, OneDrive may not be optimal, but at least they will be able to store their recording in a good place. So let’s make the change, make them aware and suggest to move any recordings to SharePoint at their earliest convenience.”

The other day I recorded something with my F3 test account, and I was totally surprised to see that the recording did not go anywhere. It is in the meeting chat, with a message that it can be downloaded for 20 days.
The good news is that the recording can be saved. The bad news is that this is not as expected, and that people will need to take action to store it.

You need to download a recorded meeting.

5. You can not create a Live Event

This is not a major issue, as organizing a large online event will generally be done by a few selected roles. An executive secretary, our Convention Bureau, communications etc.
An F3 colleague can produce and present, however, as described in this post.

This has nothing to do with the difference between web or desktop app – everyone in our organization has the Teams desktop app.

6. You do not have the Delve app

This is not mentioned anywhere in the comparison, so this was also a surprise when we found this. It is not too much of a limitation, as you can get there via your Office profile.

7. Agenda sharing issues with E3-colleagues

If an F3 colleague shares his or her agenda with an E3-licensed colleague, e.g. a group secretary, the secretary can only edit the agenda when using the Outlook web app.
This may have to do with the fact that there is no “desktop equivalent” in the F3-agenda. It is annoying though, as our secretaries generally prefer to work with Outlook desktop. We are trying to convince them that the Outlook web app is a joy to use, but so far most of them stick to desktop. 😢

Do you know any more quirks?

I have deliberately not mentioned a number in the title. Please let me know in the comments if you know something else, so we can create a shared resource!

This is a great opportunity to use one of the more than gorgeous letters of Simon Koay’s Superbet. F = Flash!

It’s a Poll! It’s an email! It’s a Form!

Forms may not be as hip as Teams at the moment, but it sure is a cool tool, sometimes even cooler than I thought!

Something relatively new is the option to add a Poll in an email. It is a nice option to quickly add a Choice question to your message. There is some support information out there but let me show you the full picture.

1. Create and send

When you open a new email and click on the … on the bottom of the mail (in the toolbar) you will see an option called “Poll”.

Click on the bottom of the new mail for the option to insert a poll

Click that and you will get a sidepane with a Choice question.

Enter your question and answer

Enter question and response options and click “Insert Poll into email”.

The poll will be inserted in the mail; the title of your question will be the subject line of your email (you can change that) and in the email body and you are added in the cc. If you change the name of the poll before you send it updates in both places! 💪

This is the email; you will get title and the link to the poll, but you can add explanatory text.

You can now type the rest of your mail and send it to your audience.

TIP: If you want to have that poll option always available in your toolbar just click the gear wheel top right > View all Outlook settings > Email > Customise actions and then scroll down to Toolbar. Check the Poll box and Save.

How to make the Poll-icon always visible at the bottom of your mails

2. Receive

So what happens when you receive an email?
The question will be displayed on top of the mail, with the options visible. This makes it easy to respond, but if you have many options in your answer, you will need to scroll to see the rest of the email.

You can see all options and vote immediately

When you have cast your vote, you will immediately see the result. You do not have to reply as your vote has been saved.

You can see if you have picked a day that others selected as well

If you happen to click the “View/vote in browser” link you will be taken to the Form in its regular format.

3. View results in email

As an owner, you can view the results from that mail. That’s why you are in the CC!

4. View results in Forms

The sender of the email is the owner of the Form, and when they go to their Forms page, they will see the Form with a poll-icon to distinguish it from a regular Form.

You can see this is an in-email poll by the poll icon

If you open it, you will see a message that you can not edit the poll.

Apparently this is called a Quick Poll and it is read-only

Limitations

  • You can only add one question
  • You can only add a Choice-type question
  • You can not edit the Form on your Forms page
  • Everyone sees the results immediately – that may be good or bad, just be aware.
  • People may forget to scroll down to see the rest of the mail 😁
  • According to the support information, this should not work well with people outside your organization, but it worked perfectly well between my Microsoft365 and private Outlook or Gmail accounts.

I can imagine this could be a good option for a quick question, without having to go and create a complete Form with all the trimmings.

Most of all, I like the integration of Forms and Outlook. It is smooth, clever and elegant.

It is also available in the Outlook desktop app but I am no fan of that.

Have you used it yet? And have you encountered a scenario where it did not work with “externals”? Let me know!

Where have all the features gone?

We always think very carefully if and how we communicate changes to our Microsoft365 environment.
Generally, changes that affect all users, and may lead to questions or confusion, will be posted on the intranet. We do this for about 2 or 3 changes a year. Think about “the new Outlook on the web” last summer, and the new design of the SharePoint homepage earlier this year.
Changes with a lesser impact are communicated through our dedicated Yammer group for people who take an interest, and during webinars.
Additionally we regularly revise our training and webinar materials.

So, we were a tad worried when we found that some new functionality that had been in our tenant, and had been communicated, suddenly disappeared. In one case we found out that the functionality had been retracted, but we have no clue about the others.

Perhaps one of my readers can help?

1. The SharePoint start page

A few months ago we published an article on the intranet that there would be a new SharePoint start page. The column on the left hand side would be removed and some of the info there would move to below the site cards. We prepared the communication and an explanatory screenshot.
When we could finally confirm that also our non-targeted release users had it, we published the article.

Around March and the start of the Corona-crisis, I noticed that my SharePoint start page had reverted back to the old setup, both at work and in my own tenant. I checked the Roadmap, the tenant Message Center, the internet, but nothing came up.

Only half May I found out that I had missed this article, which has a small paragraph on this topic.

Gone-SPstartpage
As the article above is quite long, this is the message.

Well, thanks for that. And I could not find the #192001 in my Message center, nor in that from my work tenant. 😦

2. Save documents for later in SharePoint

I was already aware of the Save for Later options in SharePoint News, but I was happily surprised to find that this function would also be available for regular documents in SharePoint sites. I saw it a few months ago, immediately saved a few documents and told our Yammer group.

I still have them saved on my SharePoint page. But the functionality is gone in both my private and my work tenant!

I have not imagined it, as this SharePoint Roadmap Pitstop from November 2019 shows. It points to a Roadmap #49095 which mentions the functionality for OneDrive…with a launch date of Q4, 2020.

What has happened in the mean time? What retraction or delay announcement have I missed?

BTW, this blog shows the Saved for later files on the new SharePoint home page.

3. Files tab in Outlook

Some time ago, my colleague and I noticed a paperclip icon in the bottom left of our Outlook-on-the-web app.

The paperclip

When clicked, it would give you a page with all attachments in your mailbox. Very convenient for cleaning up! However, it has not been seen for several months.

Once again, I have not imagined it. I wrote about it in this blog about my love for Outlook-on-the-web.

Update July 8, 2020:

The files tab in Outlook is back! I just received a comment from Eric (see below) and I immediately checked. I wish I could sort them on file size, but it is already a big plus that I can see how many files live in my Outlook!

Does anyone know?

You know I like to play the detective, but I could not find the answers this time 😉

Title inspired by 1955’s song “Where have all the flowers gone” by Pete Seeger.

Teams meetings for non-business users – invitations

Teamsclient-headerTeams may have originally been intended as a business-to-business meeting and collaboration tool, it is now, in COVID-19 times, used heavily for all kinds of gatherings. The education sector is using it big time, my own organization is using it temporarily as a group therapy session tool, and I use it to meet with my fellow “citizen activists” who want to keep our lovely home town a great place to live in for real people.

So, right now Teams is being used by many non-business people, and I have had a lot of questions about “how it works” for non-business external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”

The fun part when you use Teams for “consumers’ is the variety of systems that people use – devices, browsers, email clients. So, I tried a few things, starting from my own Office365/Microsoft365 tenant.

I created a meeting from Outlook Online, as described earlier.

  • It does not show attendees
  • You can not forward the invitation
  • Externals need to wait in the lobby
  • Externals are an attendee, not a presenter

I sent this to various online emailclients: Outlook.com, Gmail.com, Yahoo.com

I opened the mailboxes with various browsers on laptop and the Outlook one on Iphone and Ipad.

I looked at the invitation and accepted the meeting (where possible).

What does the invitation look like?

Teamsclient-OutlookChrome
Laptop/Outlook.com mail. This invitation looks the same in Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. The yellow bar mentions that the invitation can not be forwarded. (in Dutch)

Teamsclient-YahooFirefox
Laptop/Yahoo mail. Invitation looks the same in Edge, Chrome and Firefox. Internet Explorer shows a basic version. There is no Accept/Tentative/Decline option and no mention of the non-forwarding. And what is that silly logo next to my name?

Teamsclientgmailchrome
Laptop/Gmail. Invitation looks the same in Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. There is an option to respond, but no mention about the non-forwarding. Although the time is technically correct, it is not the “natural” Dutch time and I could not find a way to correct it.

Teamsclient-outlookapple
iOS: Outlook.com mail via Apple Mail app. Yikes, this is all you get. The top says: this message is plain text, download the full message. If you do that, you get this:

Teamsclient-outlookappleexplanded1

Teamsclient-outlookappleexpanded2
Well, double Yikes. While iOS is usually so cool and user-friendly, this is awful. You have to download the message to make sense of it, and then you get a ton of ugly links and then at the bottom your instructions and the .ics file. No mention of the non-forwarding.

Teamsclient-outlookandroid
Android. Microsoft365 account, Outlook app. Response options but no mention of the non-forwarding.

What have I found so far?

  • Do not expect a response message if you are inviting external non-business users. I did not receive any responses except from the Microsoft365 user, even though I did accept the meeting on Gmail and Outlook.com.
  • Invitations to Gmail often go into the Spam box, especially when I used the “hide meeting attendees” option. You may want to check with your externals that they have seen the invitation.
  • Check if the meeting is on the right date and time on the receiver’s end. If people have their mailbox on a different timezone, they may want to adjust it.
    Or in case of Gmail, do they realize that the time is in UTC and what UTC means? 
  • Tell people that the invitation may move out of their inbox after accepting or declining it and that they can find it in their Deleted Items if they want to keep it. 
  • Sending an invitation does not mean that the date and time are added to the Calendar option of the email client automatically. In some case you need to download the .ics file (which not everybody may understand) or specify to the email client that invitations should always be added to your calendar.
  • “Do not forward” appears to work only within Microsoft email – the option to forward is greyed out in Outlook, but the emails sent to Yahoo and Gmail could be forwarded and the recipient could enter the meeting. ☹
  • Please note that I have an up-to-date Windows 10 laptop with current versions of browsers – be aware that non-business users may have different setups and different versions!

Do not assume!

In other words, do not assume that everything will work in the same way as with your external business contacts. Your “consumer” audience has a much larger variety in devices, mail clients, updates and browsers than your business contacts (who in many cases use Outlook, if not the full Microsoft 365suite). Your “consumer” audience may also be less exposed to formal meetings and be not as tech savvy – or be more savvy with other systems than Microsoft365.

Next time, I will discuss what happens when you click on the meeting link

5 steps to clean up your Outlook on-the-web mailbox

CleanOutlookheaderSome time ago we introduced the Microsoft365 F3-license into our organization. I work in a health care organization and the majority of our staff is providing care and counseling to our clients and patients. They work mostly with the official patient/client data application. They do not use Office365 heavily.

The F3-license differs in the following aspects from the E3 or E5 license used in larger and more office-based organizations. (See also Marijn Somers’ post on this topic)

  • No desktop apps – it is all online
  • 2 GB Outlook mailbox instead of 100 GB
  • 2 GB OneDrive instead of 1 TB
  • No Delve app visible (on the Office365 landing page) or available (on mobile devices) – but I have a workaround
  • A few limitations in Skype-for-business – as F3 users can not organize meetings or share content. Teams meetings appear not to have these limitations, by the way. (I have had varied results so I am a little careful)

When we made the change, about 10% of users had more than 2 GB in their Outlook on- the-web mailbox, so we sent them a message about what was going to happen and gave them suggestions for cleaning up.
I have noticed that there is a vast amount of support for Outlook on the intranet but it is mainly for the desktop app and trust me, there is a BIG difference between the Outlook desktop and Outlook on-the-web.
BTW, I just found Nate Chamberlain’s tips to clean up your Outlook desktop!

So, here’s what we advise our colleagues. Feel free to re-use and embellish!

1. Empty the Deleted Items folder.

Apparently there is no tenant-wide option for Outlook Online to empty the the Deleted Items folder when you log out. (It is possible for the desktop app)
So, it is possible that you have years of Deleted Items in that folder, eating up space! If you know your Deleted Items are there to be deleted, the fastest way is this:

  • Right-click on the name Deleted Items in the left-hand menu
  • Click “Empty Folder”

CleanOutlook-deleteditems
You do not even have to open your Deleted Items folder in order to empty it!

If you have > 500 messages in there, or if you want to check what you are deleting, it may be best to do this in batches:

  • Open the Deleted Items folder
  • Select a number of messages
  • Click “Delete” from the top bar
  • Repeat when the selected items have been deleted

CleanOutlook-selecteditems
Open folder, select items and click Delete is a more gentle way to clean up.

The deleted messages will be stored in a new place. You will see this in your Deleted Items folder, called “Recover items deleted from this folder”.
The “Recoverable Items” works like the SharePoint or OneDrive Recycle bin. You can restore messages back to their original location within 14 days (default) or longer (tenant setting) after deletion.
Items in the Recoverable Items do not consume storage space. 

CleanOutlook-deleteditemsrecoverable
I only recently discovered this nifty option to recover deleted emails! It is in the Deleted Items folder.

CleanOutlook-recoverable

Select an item, click “Restore” and your message will be back to the original folder, i.e. Inbox or Sent Items or what not.

Now that your Deleted Items is empty, let’s go to the next step.

2. Check storage space.

There used to be a cool function in Outlook On The Web that showed you the storage space usage of each folder. However, with the most recent version (August 2019) that option has gone, so you can only see the total storage now.*

  • Click the Gear Wheel top right and then “View all Outlook settings”
  •  Go to “General”, then click “Storage” and you will see how much you are using.

CleanOutlook-storage
Sadly, not a lot of detail here.

When a F1-user reaches 1,98 GB of storage space, they will get a warning message. (This is default, but the warning limit can be lowered by the Exchange admin if you want to give people some more breathing space)
They will also no longer be able to send messages at that point. So it is important to keep well away from 1,98 GB.

3. Clean up your largest folders.

Deleted Items, Inbox and Sent Items are generally the main storage space hoarders. Depending on your organization’s settings, Junk Mail can be a biggie, too.
So let’s start there with two sorting exercises:

a. Sort on largest items

In your Inbox, click Filter (top left), then Sort on Size, largest on top.
Check if you still need these messages. If they contain large attachments, save the attachments to OneDrive. You can move them to SharePoint later, if needed.
If the email text is important, you can save it as a PDF and store it on OneDrive or SharePoint.
Delete the message once you have safeguarded the content in another place. Or just delete it if it is no longer of value.

CleanOutlook-filterlargest
How to sort the contents of a mailbox folder on size.

b. Sort on oldest items

In your Inbox, click Filter (top left), then Sort on Date, oldest on top.
Do you really still need the oldest messages? If yes, store them in OneDrive or SharePoint as above before deleting.

Repeat steps a. and b. for Sent Items and any other folders that contain a lot of data.

4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 (and perhaps 3).

I have helped a lot of colleagues through this process and these steps were usually sufficient to get below the 1,98 GB threshold. If not, you will have to take step 3 again and be a little more strict.

5. Auto-empty the Deleted Items folder.

Now that you have a cleaner mailbox, you will want to keep it that way! You can empty your Deleted Items automatically after sign-out as follows:

  • Click the Gear Wheel top right and then “View all Outlook settings”
  •  In Email, go to Message Handling, check the first box and click Save.

CleanOutlook-emptydeleteditems
How to make sure your Deleted Items is emptied on a regular basis.

Another time, I will discuss a few more ways to save space and hassle!

It was fun writing this post – my own mailbox is smaller now as well 🙂

——————–

* For as long as it lasts (November 2019), there IS a way to see the individual folder size.

Use this link and this will take you to the old interface where you can see the individual folder’s size: https://outlook.office.com/owa/?path=/options/mailboxcleanup

CleanOutlook-foldersizeindiv
For as long as it lasts: the old Outlook interface. You can see individual folder size + do some deleting from here based on message age.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save Outlook Online emails as document

outlook folders-357514“I want to save emails from customers in our customer folders on SharePoint”, a colleague told me the other day.

I have not really done that a lot, so I could not help her immediately, but the request made sense so I promised her I would let her know. So I set about finding info and found a great post by my friend Gregory Zelfond and some others, including Microsoft themselves.

However, these options are all done with the Outlook Client, while the majority of my colleagues has an F3 license, which means they only have the online versions of Office 365. And trust me, Outlook Online works differently from the Client! There is no “Save as” in Outlook Online!

What did not work?

  • I could not find a consistent URL of an email. There were too many differences in URL between browsers and between current and new Outlook online. If that would work, I could have added the URL to a document library in SharePoint.
  • I could not find a Flow to convert emails into documents and move them into OneDrive or SharePoint.

Eventually, with lots of trials and internet search, I have been able to come up with two ways, depending if a PDF is good enough or if you really need the .eml format (which is still an email).

Experiments were done with IE, Edge, Chrome and Firefox browsers, and with the current and the new Outlook Online. Phew! 🙂

The easy way – print to PDF

  1. Open the email
  2. Click the … top right
  3. Select “Print” from the popup menu
  4. You will get a preview
  5. Select “Print” top left
  6. In the next screen, select “Print to PDF” or  “Microsoft Print to PDF”as the printer and hit Print
  7. Give the file a good name and save it to PC (The E1 license does not provide a OneDrive Client)
  8. Upload to OneDrive and copy/move to SharePoint

I have made a basic video, using Edge as browser.

Remarks:

  •  This is the best option if you have one or two files you want to save.
  •  The screen to create or print to PDF differs per browser.
  •  Google Chrome adds a title to the PDF before upload – but with “Mail-Ellen van Aken-Outlook” this is pretty generic. 
  •  Internet Explorer and Google Chrome present the option to share the mail after you have uploaded it to OneDrive – when you click “Share Link” it shows the usual document sharing options. This is relatively new functionality in OneDrive and SharePoint.

OutlookOnlineSaving-shareafterupload
After you upload a document you can share the link with others.

The complicated way – attach emails as eml

  1. Group the emails you want to save into a folder – this is optional but will make things easier
  2. Open 2 windows with Outlook Online and resize them so you can see them both on your screen
  3. Open a new email in window 1
  4. Open the folder in window 2
  5. Select the emails you want to save in window 2 and drag and drop them to the new email in window 1
  6. They will be added as attachments (in .eml format)
  7. Send the email to yourself
  8. Open the email and save attachments to OneDrive – they will be added to the Attachments folder automagically (although I often wish I could determine where they go)
  9. Copy/move to SharePoint

And another basic video, with Edge.

Remarks:

  • This is the best option if you have a large number of emails you want to save.
  • This works in Edge, Chrome and Firefox browser, but copying the emails to the new email does NOT work in Internet Explorer.
  •  In all cases, the subject title of the email is the file name.
  • You may want to use a Flow to move the attachments to OneDrive or SharePoint instead of taking step 8 / 9.
  • I tried drag & drop from email to OneDrive but that did not work – I have seen some promising stuff for the new Microsoft browser though!

Somehow this feels awkward. I understand that Online stuff is not always meant to be converted into a document, but emails are also a record and may need to be treated as such. I would have expected more and easier options. Have I overlooked something?

Image courtesy of Pixabay on Pexels