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Disclaimers in Exchange 2010

Elie Bou Issa [BS. Computer Science, MCITP, MCTS, MCT]

Elie Bou Issa [BS. Computer Science, MCITP, MCTS, MCT] Photo

Elie has more than six years of experience dealing with various facets of IT and handling a wide range of software solutions. These include Exchange/Active Directory and other Microsoft platforms, such as Windows Server, SCCM, and SCOM, among others.

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In this article, we will see how disclaimer rules in Exchange 2007 will coexist with other disclaimer rules created in Exchange 2010. In addition enhanced disclaimers in Exchange 2010 give us the ability to add basic HTML code and Active Directory attributes.

The absence of built-in email disclaimer support in previous Exchange versions opened the opportunity for companies to develop third-party utilities to help Exchange Administrators in moving forward with disclaimers.

Exchange Server 2007 introduced Hub Transport server rules and gave the flexibility to configure disclaimers at the organization level. This new born feature didn't really put aside third party utilities as the exchange disclaimer transport rules lacked some features necessary when constructing professional disclaimer text.

With Exchange 2010, new features have been added to the disclaimer transport rule, which include the ability to add HTML code and Active Directory attributes. In this manner, the exchange administrator is able to better customize the disclaimer.

In this article, we will talk about how disclaimers behave in a mixed Exchange environment and how to customize disclaimers using HTML code and Active Directory attributes.

Disclaimers Co-existence in Exchange 2010

If you have been using Exchange 2007 transport rule disclaimers, and have transitioned to Exchange 2010, disclaimer rules will be converted and stored in an Exchange 2010 Active Directory container. Exchange 2010 creates a new transport rule container in Active Directory, so if you already have an Exchange 2007 disclaimer , you will find that stored in both Active Directory containers. For this to work, any changes made to the disclaimer rule in Exchange 2007 will need to be replicated to the disclaimer rule in Exchange 2010 but the other way around is not supported due to the newly added features that didn't exist in Exchange 2007. Using AdsiEdit we can have a look at the two AD containers, see Figure 1.

AD Rules Container

If you're wondering which disclaimer will be applied to which email message, consider the cases that follow:

  • Exchange 2007 Hub Transport servers will only apply disclaimers that were created on Exchange 2007 since it has no access to rules created on Exchange 2010.

  • Exchange 2010 Hub Transport servers will apply all disclaimers whether these were created on Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2007, since the Exchange 2010 container holds a copy of all disclaimer rules.

Disclaimer Customization

I won't be covering the steps needed to create a disclaimer rule in Exchange 2010 as these are the same steps used in Exchange 2007. For detailed steps on how to create and set disclaimers, please check Alexander's article, Appending Disclaimers Using Exchange 2007 Hub Transport Rules.

As mentioned previously, disclaimers in Exchange 2010 can be customized with HTML code or by adding Active Directory attributes.

Polling Active Directory attributes allows you to add a signature to the disclaimer text. To do that, you need to add %% at the beginning and the end of the respective attribute name taken from Active Directory.

Attributes name can be found through ADSIEDIT. To do this, open adsiedit and select the user properties. From the attribute editor tab, scroll the list to get the attribute name you are looking for. This would look like figure 1.1

AD Attribute Names

For instance, adding DisplayName, Title, and Company name attribute from Active Directory would be similar to figure 1.1.1:

Using AD Attributes

Because we have the option to add HTML code, we can also add a logo. This requires to have the logo image stored on a public location reachable through a URL address.

You can store the logo on any server hosting IIS within your network. You need to make sure that the URL location is accessible to everyone in your organization. You can do that as shown in figure 1.2

Disclaimer Company Logo

In the above example, the URL would not be resolved in case of emails going outside the organization. In that case, the logo would have to be stored on a public web server.

The last step would typically be to add the disclaimer text. In Exchange 2007 we would do this using the disclaimer rule editor. However in Exchange 2010, we will define this using html tags as shown in Figure 1.3

Completed Disclaimer

Different criteria can be added to the above configuration. As a best practice it is recommended to test the rule in a test environment or on a limited number of users before it is applied to all users in the organization.

From the users' side, the disclaimer transport rule created in Exchange 2010 would look as shown in Figure 1.4



Throughout this article, we discussed how the disclaimer rule will coexist in Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010, and how disclaimers can be customized using html and Active Directory attributes. Learning HTML won't be a challenge as the required know-how is minimal.

Definitely, disclaimer creation could be enhanced and customization simplified with the help of pre-defined templates or maybe the ability to select Active Directory attributes to be displayed. I hope this functionality is included in future Exchange versions. For administrators who don't like to introduce third party utilities or just need a signature and a disclaimer, the steps mentioned in this article should be the ideal solution.


Understanding Disclaimers

User Comments - Page 1 of 1 25 Jul 2011 09:39
Thanks for this great article. The parts about how the rules work between Exchange 2010 and 2007 were very helpful.
@Victor: Take a look at
Ken Cole 1 Mar 2011 14:27
I had the same issue trying to use Arial narrow. It did not work. I had to install the font that I needed on the Exchange servers themselves. The font was on the workstations but wasn't on the Exchange servers.
Victor 28 Jan 2011 19:57
I found that some attribute doesn't work in the transport rule. For example, "company" = %%company%% is OK. But "E-mail" is not %%mail%% for the exchange rule, it is %%email%%. I checked ADSI the attribute should be mail. I don't why is email not the mail in ADSI. Now i cannot find actual attribute for "Web Page". In ADSI, the attribute is wwwhomepage, but it is not correct. Do you have any idea?? Thank you!
Mik 24 Mar 2010 08:30
I've tried this several times with no luck getting the font to be the size and style. Each time it comes across as 12pt Times New Roman. Thoughts?
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