Exchange 2007 access to all mailboxes for Administrator

24 05 2009

Deploying Exchange 2007 can have its problems at the best of times. The separation of Exchange management from the Active Directory tools also has a knock-on effect when it comes to granting Exchange-related permissions en masse. This seemingly easy task is now proving to be a minefield.

So, how do you grant an Administrator access to all the mailboxes for an Exchange 2007 Mailbox Database?

Remove the Default Permissions

Before you start, you need to remove the default permissions at the Exchange Organization Level. These apply to all mailboxes in the organization and specifically deny any administrative-type user the Send-As and Receive-As permissions. This may cause confusion later, so it is best to remove them.

The user accounts and groups which are denied the ‘Receive-As’ permission at the organization level are:

  • DOMAIN\Administrator
  • DOMAIN\Domain Admins
  • DOMAIN\Enterprise Admins
  • DOMAIN\Exchange Organization Administrators

In order to remove the Deny entry for all the above users, the following command should be used:

Get-OrganizationConfig | Remove-ADPermission -User “DOMAIN\Administrator” -AccessRights ExtendedRight -ExtendedRights Receive-As -Deny

Replace DOMAIN\Administrator with the other entries in the above list to remove the permission for those accounts too.

The Commands

Having removed the default permissions, you can now set about implementing the permissions needed. Prior to discussing the actul Powershell commands to use, it is important that you understand the different types of permission which can be granted:

  • FullAccess Mailbox Permission. This can only be granted at the individual mailbox level to a user or group of users; it allows the designated users the ability to access the mailbox via Outlook or the new feature to open another user’s mailbox in Outlook Web Access.This permission is granted directly on the mailbox using the cmdlet Add-MailboxPermission. An example might be Add-MailboxPermission -Identity JDoe -User MSmith -AccessRights FullAccess where MSmith is being granted the ability to access JDoe’s mailbox.This permission can also be granted via the Exchange Management Console. Selecting a Mailbox in Recipient view adds an option Manage Full Access Permission to the actions pane, where this permission can be managed in a similar fashion.The problem with granting permissions in this fashion is it has to be done on an individual mailbox basis. For granting permissions en masse, it would defeat the principles of granting permissions due to the administrative overhead of maintaining the ACLs. Instead, permissions should be granted on a common parent object and allowed to inherit to the child objects, in this case, the mailboxes.
  • Receive As Active Directory permission. This permission can be set either at the mailbox level, or at a higher level in the Active Directory tree. It has the same effect as Full Mailbox Access, with the difference that it can be set at the store or storage group level, and therefore will be inherited down by all decendent mailboxes.Generic Active Directory permissions related to Active Directory objects are granted and modified at the Management Shell using Add-ADPermission. This cmdlet expects the -Identity parameter to be a full Active Directory path – I believe a Distinguished Name is expected. It is, therefore, much easier to pipe this path from the result of a previous command, particularly when handling some of the more complicated Exchange objects with complex DNs. For example, to grant these permissions at the store level (the store being an Active Directory object), I could use: Get-MailboxDatabase -Identity “My Database” | Add-ADPermission -User “DOMAIN\Group of Users” -AccessRights ExtendedRight -ExtendedRights Receive-As

The problem with granting Receive As permissions is while Outlook will obey them and happily display a mailbox where the Receive As permission is inherited, the new feature of Outlook Web Access which allows other mailboxes to be opened does not. For the OWA feature to work, the user must be granted explicit Full Mailbox access on an individual mailbox basis, to every mailbox they need to access.

My Approach

To achieve the ultimate objective of allowing Domain Admins to access a mailbox, either from Outlook or OWA, I chose to use several commands.

I first granted Domain Admins ‘Receive-As’ access at the store level using the command I described above. Via Outlook, these permissions would allow any Domain Admin to open these mailboxes as additional mailboxes.

To counteract the OWA restriction, I had to grant the Full Access permission across every mailbox. While this is very messy to maintain, it is currently the only option. Furthermore, as new mailboxes will not have the permission set by default, I use a Scheduled Task with a small PowerShell script, to set the permissions for every mailbox once per day.

My PowerShell script (.ps1 file) consists of the following:

# Matt’s Powershell Script (see to add Full Mailbox permissions to all mailboxes in the Exchange organization
Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.Exchange.Management.Powershell.Admin -erroraction silentlyContinue
$userAccounts = get-mailbox -resultsize unlimited
ForEach ($user in $userAccounts)
add-MailboxPermission -identity $user -user “Domain Admins” -AccessRights FullAccess

Via Task Scheduler (Windows Server 2008), you can launch the script by specifying powershell.exe as the application, and “& ‘C:\path\to\script.ps1′” as the parameter. Note the double-quote followed by single-quote, and the requirement to close both quotes at the end of the command.

On the basis defined by your Scheduled Task configuration (I would suggest the task runs daily during the night, when the load on the server is low), the script will enumerate all mailboxes in the Exchange Organization, adding the required Full Access permission to the Domain Admins group.

This concludes my entry on granting various permissions in Exchange using Powershell. I hope I have cleared up some concerns regarding the differences between adding Mailbox Permissions and adding Active Directory permissions, and that this helps you.