What’s become the biggest reason to install a PC in most organizations? E-mail. A problem with e-mail, however, is that in some instances, more than one user accesses the network using the same PC. This dilemma can be remedied by setting up multiple user profiles within Outlook 98/2000, and with a little planning and preparation, it can be done easier than one, two, three.

Before beginning, there is information you will need to know, and this will depend on how your e-mail system works. Because my organization uses Microsoft Exchange servers, I’ve based the following tips on that system. Your system may require different information, but the basic setup process is the same. To properly configure Outlook profiles, you must know the user’s Microsoft Exchange server and the user’s Mailbox name. With this information in hand, you’re ready to go.

The wizard knows
To begin, open the Microsoft Outlook Setup Wizard by clicking on Start, choose Settings, select Control Panel, and double-click Mail. If you’re working on a machine with no current Outlook profile, the setup wizard, shown in Figure A, will appear automatically. If the machine already has Outlook profile(s) set up, you’ll need to click Show Profiles and Add from the Properties window that appears. You may bypass these multiple clicks by right-clicking on the Microsoft Outlook desktop icon and clicking Properties. However, this will only work if the desktop icon is not a shortcut. An Outlook icon is usually placed on the desktop during installation, but not always.

Figure A
You configure multiple user profiles with Outlook’s Setup Wizard.

Place a checkmark next to Microsoft Exchange Server and click Next. Enter an appropriate Profile Name and click Next again. The Profile Name can be anything the user wants, but I would recommend using a standard format throughout your organization. (We try to make a user’s profile name match the mailbox name.)

Enter the user’s Microsoft Exchange server and Mailbox, as shown in Figure B. When you click Next, the wizard will ask if the user travels with the PC. This option is used for configuring offline access to Outlook. Since most users don’t travel with their PCs, we always select No. (Offline access can always be configured later if needed.)

Figure B
You’ll have to know the names of your Microsoft Exchange server and the user’s mailbox.

Click Next and then Finish to close the setup wizard. You should be returned to the Mail setup window. At this point, highlight the profile name you just created and click Properties. Click Properties again. Click the Advanced tab and look at the “Logon network security:” setting. Change this option to “None,” as shown in Figure C.

Figure C
Setting logon network security to “None” is an important detail when two or more users share a PC that is rarely powered off.

With this change in place, the system will prompt each user for his or her NT logon ID and password when starting Outlook. This detail is important when multiple people share a common PC that is rarely powered off. The PC may have a shared ID or the user wanting to open Outlook may not be logged on to the PC. Click OK, then OK again, and you should be returned to the Mail setup window. Click Close, and you’ve just finished adding a new Outlook profile. To add more profiles, simply repeat this process for each new user.

Finally, you must set up Outlook to prompt for a profile when starting. Open Outlook with the default profile. To find this setting, click Start, select Settings, choose Control Panel, and select Show Profiles under Mail. Once in Outlook with the Inbox open, open the Tools menu, choose Options, and then select the Mail Services tab. You’ll see the Startup Settings shown in Figure D. On my machine, I activate the “Always use this profile” option because no one else uses my PC. For your machines that will be used by two or more people, make sure “Prompt for a profile to be used” is selected and click OK. Exit Outlook, and the next time the application is launched, the user will be prompted to choose a profile. Multiple users can now work from a single PC on your network.

Figure D
Under Startup settings, be sure to select the “Prompt for a profile to be used” option.

Bill Detwiler is a technical support services associate for a utility company and recently passed his Networking Essentials exam. His specialties are network administration, tech support, and programming.

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