Configure Offline Address Book in Exchange 2013

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Offline address book is used by Office Outlook so that users can locate contact information even when they are not connected to the server. Offline address book works when the Outlook client is configured in cache mode or when it is in offline mode. So how does offline address book distribution works? At first, Autodiscover service provides URL of OAB (Offline Address Book) to outlook clients. Then, the offline address book is rolled out by OAB virtual directory. So make sure the internal and external URL for OAB and Autodiscover virtual directory is configured properly. By default, an offline address book is created by Exchange server and includes all the GAL (Global Address Lists). You can create address lists in Exchange 2013 using EAC (Exchange Administration Center), but to create and manage offline address book you must use EMS (Exchange Management Shell). There is no GUI management tool of offline address book as of now. Here, I will show steps to configure offline address book in Exchange 2013.

Configure Offline Address Book in Exchange 2013

In Exchange 2013, offline address book is generated by OABGen (Offline Address Book Generation) service that runs on Mailbox server. It is the OABGen service that identifies the recipients that should be member of offline address book. The offline address book file is created in C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V15\ClientAccess\OAB folder location by default. To view the default offline address book, type the cmdlet Get-OfflineAddressBook in EMS as shown below.

Configure Offline Address Book in Exchange 2013

As you can see above, the name of OAB is Default Offline Address Book and it has the Default Global Address List. This means that all the recipients are member of Default OAB. Unlike earlier versions of Exchange, Exchange Server 2013 only supports OAB version 4 as shown above. Now, let’s create some offline address book.

Before creating an offline address book we need to find which mail server is hosting the OABGen service. To find out type, Get-Mailbox -Arbitration | where {$_.PersistedCapabilities -like “*oab*”} in EMS. As you can see in this cmdlet, Arbitration mailbox is the mailbox with special capabilities which allows this mailbox to create an offline address book. Yes, OAB is created by this Arbitration mailbox. This mailbox is also called organization mailbox. So we need to find out which mail server hosts this mailbox.

Configure Offline Address Book in Exchange 2013

In my case, I have one Exchange server with both CAS and Mailbox role installed. So, the mail server name is mbg-mail. If you have multiple server in DAG, then take a look at this post. I created two address lists in my earlier article, Toronto-Address-List and Ottawa-Address-List. Address lists can be viewed by typing Get-AddressList cmdlet in EMS as shown below. I will use Ottawa-Address-List for this explanation.


Here, I will create an offline address book called Ottawa-OAB and include Ottawa-Address-List address list. Then I will assign this address book to mailbox users who live in Ottawa city. So, to create an offline address book as per our requirement, type New-OfflineAddressBook -Name OttawaOAB -AddressLists “Ottawa-Address-List” -VirtualDirectories “mbg-mail\OAB (Default Web Site)”

Configure Offline Address Book in Exchange 2013

As you can see in the snapshot above, new offline address book name OttawaOAB has been created with address list named Ottawa-Address-List. Out next task is to assign this new offline address book to recipients of Ottawa city. To do so, type cmdlet, Get-Mailbox -Filter {CustomAttribute1 -eq “ottawa”} | Set-Mailbox -OfflineAddressBook “OttawaOAB”

OAB Applied

Now we need to update the changes. By default, offline address book is generated once in a day at 5 a.m. But you can change this settings, or apply the changes manually. To update the changes manually type cmdlet, Update-OfflineAddressBook “OttawaOAB”

Update OAB

To view per user OAB settings of user say, DShields, type cmdlet, Get-Mailbox DShields | fl OfflineAddressBook, CustomAttribute1. You can see that users that have Ottawa as CustomAttribute1 has OttawaOAB offline address book set.

View OAB Settings

In this way you can create and apply your own custom offline address book. For more information about offline address book, log onto Microsoft technet library.

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Bipin is a freelance Network and System Engineer with expertise on Cisco, Juniper, Microsoft, VMware, and other technologies. You can hire him on UpWork. Bipin enjoys writing articles and tutorials related to Network technologies. Some of his certifications are, MCSE:Messaging, JNCIP-SEC, JNCIS-ENT, and others.

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