Email Auto Linking Explained

E-mail auto-linking is a feature of Business Contact Manager that automatically links incoming email message with corresponding Business Contacts or Accounts. BCM links messages if the e-mail address in message matches with any business contact or account email address.

 If BCM database is private (i.e. it is not share out to other users), all business contacts and accounts are opted-in by default for email auto-linking. If database is shared out to other user's, all business contacts and accounts are opted-out for email auto linking. It's designed this way for privacy reason so that each BCM user can selectively choose the busines contacts or accounts he/she wants to enable for automatic email linking. You can control what contacts/accounts you want to enable for email linking through Business Contact Manager->Manage Email Auto Linking dialog.

Furthermore, In Manage Email Auto Linking dialog, you can select/unselect Outlook folder to control the auto linking behavior. For example, if you don't want to automatically link the emails that you send, you can uncheck "Sent Items" folder. If certain emails get delivered to folder other than "Inbox" (say if you use Outlook rules to move messages), you can control the link behavior for those emails by checking/unchecking that folder.

BCM monitors all Outlook folders (except some special folder such as Junk Email, Outbox, Draft) for new emails. When it notices a new email, and the recipieint email addresses matches the email of business contacts/accounts, BCM will create a communication history item called "Business Activity". BCM reads important information from email (subject, recipieint addresses, and part of the message body) and stores this information in database. BCM also stores a unique identifier that points to original email message. This identifier is basically a pointer to original email.

When user tries to open this linked email, BCM will attempt to find original e-mail message with unique identifier it has stored. If the original email is found, BCM will open that. If original email is not found in that profile, BCM will open the business activity with the partial data that was saved to BCM database.

Since BCM database and Outlook data files (such as PST) are seperate entities, there are few scenarios where user might see business activity instead of original email.

1. If user migrates Business Contact Manager data in a new Outlook profile that doesn't have the Outlook data file that contains original email. This could happen if you are migrating BCM database form previous version. Or user has removed Outlook data file that contained original email such as PST from the profile.

2. If user deletes the original e-mails that are linked to account or business contacts.

3. If user opens a linked email for shared contacts and accounts, and link points to original email in other user's mailbox. For example, User A and User B are sharing BCM database. User A receives an email that gets linked to a business contact or account. When User A opens this linked item through commincation history, the original email will open. But if User B opens the communication history item, Business Activity form will open.

I hope this post helps understand the logic behind Email Auto Linking. Please feel free to comment if you have any questions.




Comments (44)
  1. says:

    Why are the emails that are linked not stored in the BCM database? This would make sense as various activities like archiving or rules can move the emails and lose their linkage.

  2. says:

    A missing feature that is common in most CRMs is the ability to R/Click a contact and dash off a quick letter or envelope. This is major time saver from my point of view. An addin to do this would be good?

  3. Jerry Blake says:

    Primarily due to performance reasons. Saving entire message body can cause performance issues when linking emails automatically.

  4. Samvnw51 says:

    Could you post some guidelines for how users should configure auto-linking in a BCM shared db setup to minimize duplicate listings of the same eamil in the contact histories. I’ve told users (5) to only turn on auto-linking for their "Sent items" and "Inbox". But we still get many duplicates in the contact histories because many email sent to contacts are CC’d to other BCM users inside the company.  thanks.

  5. Samvnw51 says:

    Using Outlook 2007 w/bcm, 6 users sharing a SQL 2005 BCM db:

    We want all emails to/from all users to be included in the histories for all

    BCM contacts, so we have told all users to turn on auto-linking for their

    Inbox and Sent Items folders, and to select all BCM contact email addresses

    for auto-linking. This works great until a new BCM contact is added. Then all

    6 users must remember to turn on auto-linking for the new contact right away

    so that the initial and future emails to him/her get included in the history.

    This will never happen consistently with 6 users involved. Is there a way to

    set it so that new contacts are automatically set for auto-linking for all


    thanks in advance.

  6. mclaasen says:

    Dear team members,

    in point 3 you state that

    "3. If user opens a linked email for shared contacts and accounts, and link points to original email in other user’s mailbox."

    My question is: how can we solve this problem?

    Kind regards,

    Marc Claasen

  7. xcentric says:

    I have BCM 2007 and Outlook 2007. I use Outlook Web Connector also to tap into Hotmail. It appears that BCM’s email auto link is not compatible with either the Hotmail service or the outlook web connector. When email auto link is enabled it should save to the contacts history the incoming and outgoing emails. If your using a hotmail account only the incoming messages are archived to the history. Why? Because BCM does not register or acknowledge hotmail’s "Sent Items" folder when applying the rules. This can be confirmed by going to Business Contact Manager > Manage EMail Auto-Linking and observing that there is no "Sent Items" folder on any of your Hotmail accounts. So only pop3 accounts are supported by the auto-linking feature. Does anyone out there in BCM land know of a way around this?

  8. claeslund says:

    I have the same problem as Samvnw51. We have a shared database and we want all new mail to be connected to all contacts automaticly like when you are on a not shared database.

    I understand that there is a security reason but the hole meaning with the automatic email connection is that it should be easy and NOT time consuming.

    Is there a way to do connect all new contatcs with all mailboxes without going to all clients and do a mail connection?

  9. lindquistc says:

    How can we make it so everyone can view emails that are history items regardless of whether they sent or received them? What is the point of tracking emails in the history if no one else can read them?? Our users need to be able to see all the of the communication, not just the date/time stamp.

  10. Dani-flcc says:

    Hi Mukesh & BCM Team, I hope you get this.  

    We recently put our database on our server and our IT guy told us it would be better not to auto-link the emails.  We have a large amount of emails and contacts and his theory behind our previous crash was due to the size of our database and the email auto linking function made the size even larger.

    Right now we run Small Business Server 2003, I believe we have SQL 2005 Express installed to run BCM on the server, we are a network of 4 computers/users running Office 2007 and sharing that database. I believe our pst file is nearly about 2gb, but not sure about the size of bcm (we have around 5,000 contacts).

    After we upgraded and started running again, we disabled auto linking but we really need this function.

    What would you suggest us to do or upgrade to?

  11. Certus_Veritas says:

    Office 2007 SB w/ BCM on a WinXP SP2.

    The linking works in BCM but links the email to the wrong contacts. It automatically auto links extra incorrect contacts.

    Is the linking being done incorrectly I wonder? Is there a correct and incorrect way to link contacts?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  12. MarkDunham says:

    I link to a central database, when I’m online I can auto link, but immediately I go offline and onto my personal copy the Manage Email Auto Linking is disabled. How do I re-enable it when offline to link emails to contacts?

  13. DRappaport says:


    I have a small customer with three seats that use Outlook 2007 with BCM 2007. The mailbox sizes are 0.5, 1.5, and 2 GB.

    The database is situated on the Small Business Server 2003 machine; SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with SP2 is used.

    When they turn on auto link email feature, the SQL Server process on the server shows 99% CPU time spikes every few minutes. They last for 30 seconds or so.

    While these spikes are going on, Outlook is effectively blocked and the users can’t continue working. Immediately after the spike goes away, Outlook is normally responsive.

    I tried to select only the Inbox and Sent Items folder and to increase the polling interval to 30 minutes or so. No effect.

    The SBS server is three years old but performs very well for this small user group.

    Have you ever heard from such behaviour?



  14. shameild says:


    I would like to autolink e-mail to Opportunities instead of (or in a perfect world, in addition to) Business Contacts.  Is this possible?

  15. bcmteam says:


    This is currently not supported in Business Contact Manager 2007. You can definately associate or link to an opportunity using Link to Record button under business contact manager toolbar.


    Vinit [MSFT]

  16. ckrountree says:

    Since our exchange server runs out of room and deletes msgs after a short time, I have it set up to move all messages or copy them to my personal file folders.  So, I want to link the BCM contacts email history to my personal folders.  The problem is that when I go into the Manage Email Auto Linking folder, I see only the inbox for my personal folders; not the sent or deleted folders.  Where are these folders and how do I get them back so I can tell BCM to link the messages in my personal inbox, deleted, and sent folders to the BCM contacts??

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

  17. mhouldridge says:


    *** Fix for Email Autolinking ***

    I’ve posted a recent project of mine which fixes the email autolinking issues with Business Contact Manager, specifically with automatic autolinking being disabled in a shared database environment.

    The link above provides access to the software download (free version), which must be installed on the Business Contact Management server, and runs as a service.  The software adds autolinking for each user (added in config file), so that users no longer need to run the Email Autolinking tool everyday.

    This was developed primarily for our own purposes, however whilst trying to come up with a fix we noticed many other businesses who had the same problem.


    Mark H

  18. yannick_uk says:


    When auto-linking emails to a project, BCM also auto links all the emails having the same subject to that project (without paying attention to the email address!), so I end up having plenty of emails mixed up in the same project. Is there a setting for that ?

    Anyone else experiencing this ?

    Thank you for your help

  19. TonyBunney says:

    I am trying to read all emails in a number of folders and if they have been linked to a BCM account or BCM contact, move them to a linked folder but I cannot see what property in the MailItem object tells me this.

    I am using the following to loop through the emails

    Dim EMOutlookApp As Outlook.Application

    Dim EMOutlookNS As Outlook.NameSpace

    Dim MyPersonalFolder As MAPIFolder

    Dim MyEmail As Object

    Dim MySelectedFolder As MAPIFolder


    Set EMOutlookNS = Application.GetNamespace("MAPI")

    Set MyPersonalFolder = EMOutlookNS.Folders.Item("Personal Folders")

    Set MySelectedFolder = MyPersonalFolder.Folders.Item("Sent Items")

    For Each MyEmail In MySelectedFolder.Items

    ‘ How to find out if email is linked

    Next MyEmail

  20. jcdarrin says:

    I have just installed BCM and imported my Outlook 2007 contacts. How can I pull in their email history?

  21. bcmteam says:

    Hi jcdarrin,

    Did you turn on E-mail auto linking for your contacts?


    Vinit [MSFT]

  22. Sue Bates says:


    I have read the previous comments on linking emails in BCM but I still don’t have the answer to my question. Would someone be able to let me know how I manage linking emails to BCM within a network.  I have found out how to link emails from my PC but I assume this doesn’t link emails sent or received from the other 2 PC’s in the office unless I am cc’d on the email.  Is there an easy way to do this?  Basically, I have been given the task of linking every email address we have with every email received on all 3 PC’s. We all want to be able to view the emails so privacy within the network isn’t an issue.

    Would really appreciate any advice you could give.



  23. dyarn says:

    I’m also having problems with e-mail linking in a network.  We are a 3 person company using SBS 2008  with Exchange.  The linking of e-mails has irradic behavior at best.  Some e-mails are linked fine and everyone can see them as e-mails and reply or forward them.  Other e-mails are linked only as "business activities" and can only be replied to or forwarded by the person who originally received the e-mail.  Other e-mails are stored at least twice in the communication history, once created by the actual user, and a second time by the server administrator account.  I really need to find ananswer to this problem ASAP as it is wreaking havoc in our small company.

  24. bcmteam says:

    Hi Dyarn

    Answer to your questions …

    1)Linked emails on shared dbs – we don’t store the whole email in the db, just a link.  Only the person who’s PST it links to will see the real email.  

    2)Multiple instances of the email in history happens when everyone who receives an email in a shared environment with EAA enabled will end up creating a history item for it.  So if we both are using a shared db, and both get an email from a customer tracked in BCM, we’ll both end up creating a history item for that email .

    Hope this makes sense.


    -Vinit [MSFT]

  25. jspeciner says:

    Oh man…  I need help.  Hopefully someone can give me a hand with two issues I am having.  

    My setup is pretty simple now, although I’ve had a few changes over time.  Right now I run Outlook BCM for Outlook 2007 on a single machine. I use a hosted exchange solution for email, my regular contacts, calendars, etc…  I’ve changed Email addresses once during my use of BCM and have went from IMAP to full Exchange (one Email address) then to POP and on to my current hosted Exchange (with my current Email).  Here are my issues:

    1.  I have in some BCM contact files up to 4 or 5 copies of the same email being recorded.  This isn’t true of all BCM contacts but I’d say more than half.  I’m not sure why I’m seeing this behavior with some and not others.  Is there anyway to automatically get rid of the duplicates without wiping my database and starting over (which I can’t do).  

    2.  Beginning in March, I think after a SP for BCM or some sort of upgrade, BCM stopped linking Emails that I send to a list of around 100 addresses on a monthly basis.  When I go to the sent Email and click and confirm the Email Auto-Linking feature, I get the following message:  "Data in hidden field ‘Parent Entry IDs’ currently has a length of 12604. This exceeds the maximum allowed length of 8000."  This never happened before March (ie. all of the same type of Emails with 100 or so recipients are linked to the appropriate contacts from February 2009 and earlier).  What is causing this?  Anyway to get around this so that those Emails can be linked?

    Right now I feel like my BCM is a mess and I’m actually pretty bummed about it because it’s really not helping me at all and has become more of a pain than anything.  Any help on these topics would be appreciated.  Thank you.  

  26. Oliver Hausler says:

    As long as my database is private, EMAIL LINKING is on by default. As soon as I share it, that feature is off by default, and users need to switch it on for each and every email. This is NOT VERY PRODUCTIVE, and so many users have complained about this issue since BCM 2007. I find it very sad this hasn't been changed in BCM 2010. Actually, this renders BCM unusable, as it won't be possible to get all users to always confirm.

    Listen, DEVELOPERS: Why don't you let your customers choose if they want privacy or performance. BCM is made for small teams, where it doesn't make sense hiding things from each other. BCM doesn't even support permissions, so why hiding email?

    It's fine with me when the default is the more private option, but for SP1 I want to see an option to enable email auto linking in a shared environment. Or at least, please post a db fix how this can be set.

    Thanks, Oliver.

  27. KHowland says:

    I concur with Oliver Hausler there is NO business need for a shared DB to not show all history to all users.  ITS A SHARED DB!  Shared…see Webster definition.   I have complained about this endlessly and never get a response.

  28. Chris says:

    Oliver and K: I'm not yet sure what's going on, but BCM 2007 and 2010 certainly can link emails to a shared database.

    Are you sure that Link and Track is on? For each BCM installation connected to the shared database, go to File, Business Contact Manager, then select Manage Linking and Tracking. Make sure all the email addresses that you want to track are checked, and that the appropriate email folders are checked. Both the email address and the folder must be checked for the email to be linked.

    Does that fix it?


    Chris (msft)

  29. Allan says:

    Hi BCM Team & Chris (msft),

    I think the following is what the business owner's here mean in the last 10 or so posts. Please let me know if you need more clarification.

    We have ordered BCM 2010 and are getting ready to install it.  

    With BCM 2010, did Microsoft solve the issue where every local user using the database has to go to "Manage E-Mail Auto-Linking" to set up e-mail auto-linking for each Business Contact on their computer so that it shows in the contact communication History?  

    We'd like it so once anyone in our company sets up e-mail linking for a Business Contact, it does it for everyone on the network who is using the shared BCM 2010 database.  We don't care about privacy in regards to client communications to or from our company, and want to disable this inconvenience if possible. We just need all of our clients' communication history recorded no matter who's computer or e-mail it comes from, so that everyone in the company knows what's going on with the client.

    It would also be nice if we can have better contact filtering options when we are managing the e-mail auto-linking.  We have a mixture of clients, wholesalers, partners, and other types of contacts and would prefer to filter not just by whether it's a "Business Contact" or "Account", but also by the custom fields we created and filled-out in the contact record.  The only ones we want linked are clients, and filtering would save time finding the clients from the huge list.


  30. David says:

    When trying to track and link an email in Outlook 2010 with Business Contact Manager 2007 from File>Business Contact Manager>Link and Track Email Messages, I receive an error and no email addresses or folders are displayed for selection.  I can go to sent mail and right click a message and link it but would be prefer auto-linking.

    Thank you.

    The following error below is received in advanced logging.

    9/20/2010 10:25:32 AM: Logging initialized.

    [V] [13:27:08.1976109]Microsoft.BusinessSolutions.eCRM.OutlookAddIn.CSUtils: Start Logging

    [E] [13:27:13.0498884]BCMRes: The client operation failed.

    [E] [13:27:13.0508885]BCMRes:    at Microsoft.Interop.Mapi.CGlobals.QueryAllRows(IMAPITable Table, PropTag[] PropTagArray, IRestriction Restriction, SortOrderSet SortCriteria, Int32 RowCount)

      at Microsoft.Interop.Mapi.Globals.QueryAllRows(IMAPITable Table, PropTag[] PropTagArray, IRestriction Restriction, SortOrderSet SortCriteria, Int32 RowCount)

      at Microsoft.BusinessSolutions.eCRM.OutlookAddIn.CSUtils.BackgroundTasks.MapiChangeTracker.Folder.InitSubFolders()

      at Microsoft.BusinessSolutions.eCRM.OutlookAddIn.CSUtils.BackgroundTasks.EmailAutoAssociator.Folder..ctor(EmailAutoAssociator eaa, Folder mctFolder)

      at Microsoft.BusinessSolutions.eCRM.OutlookAddIn.CSUtils.BackgroundTasks.EmailAutoAssociator.GetRootFolderList()

      at Microsoft.BusinessSolutions.eCRM.OutlookAddIn.EmailTrackingDialog.BuildFolderTree()

      at Microsoft.BusinessSolutions.eCRM.OutlookAddIn.EmailTrackingDialog.EmailTracking_Load(Object sender, EventArgs e)

  31. Jesse says:

    Hello BCM Team, I've looked around in various help rooms, but have a couple questions I could not find answers to for BCM 2010:

    1. I am trying to auto-link past messages. When I go into Manage Linking and Tracking, click Search and Link and Start, I get the error message: "Unable to link your e-mails. Please try again later." It looks like it gets through about 100 or so based on the 'ticker' on the bottom of the little window, but then shows the error message at the bottom. How do I fix this?

    2. I saw a similar question posted, but for 2007. My Opportunities are each linked to a Business Contact. Emails show up in the history for the Business Contacts, but not in the history for the Opportunities. Is there a way to get the email history for the linked Business Contact to show up in the history for the Opportunity as well? If not, is there a work around to accomplish the same thing? What I am trying to do is track the activity for the sales cycle for a given potential client. I want to be able to click on that client and see the various stages of the sales cycle with a complete communication history. If I cannot track emails without doing each one manually, I can't stay on top of it. Maybe creating an Account instead of an Opportunity and creating a Project that mirrors the sales cycle?

    Kind of frustrating, seems like a no brainer that the Opportunity history would automatically show the history of communications with the linked Contact…

    Thank you,


  32. Jerry says:

    Hi Jesse,

    1.  Can you turn on logging, and post the log file after you hit the error.  Since it is working on some emails, but not all it could be a bad email format that is stopping the process.  The log might have more info to debug it.

    2.   The email history item is created for the item which has the email address used is stored.  Since an opportunitity doesn't have an email addres ( just the linked item does) the history item isn't added to it's history by defaut.  YOu can manually add it by selecting the email, and click link to record.  

    –Jerry [MSFT]

  33. Jesse says:

    Thanks for responding Jerry,

    1. Turned on the logging and this is what I got, there is more, but I think the error is below. I just replaced the name with Joe Smith:

    E] [21:02:44.1406250]BCMRes: Message:IRIS:1007 Joe Smith

    [E] [21:02:44.2500000]BCMRes: Cannot save the changes because this item is linked to the [Joe Smith] record which has been deleted. Please undelete the record, and then make the changes again.

    [E] [21:02:44.4687500]BCMRes:    at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection.OnError(SqlException exception, Boolean breakConnection)

    I'm not sure why it is saying that though because I do have a Business Contact for Joe Smith that is linked and tracking. Do you need more of the error message? It has some other language that looks like it is restarting the search and then there is another message identical to the one above again. Not sure what to do since that Contact is active. I did have a duplicate of that Conact at one point I think. How can I get it to recognize the contact is there?

    2. Ok, but in an Account, all the emails from the Business Contacts that are linked to that Account show up in the History for the Account. I guess I thought the functionality for Opportunities would be the same. I think I will just create Accounts and put that as the link to the Opportunity. That way I'll at least be able to see all the emails in the History of the Account and not have to add them as I go one by one manually.

    Thanks for your help!


  34. Recordless in NY says:

    My emails have stopped being recorded in the contact's history since the beginning of September 2010.  It looks like other people have this problem.  I do not see a reply from Microsoft within this thread that resolves this issue.

    I've clicked and unclicked every possible adjustment in File, Edit, View, Go, Tools, Actions and Business Tools. Nothing helps.

    When I click E-mail Auto-link on the bar, I get an error message: "Business Managerfor Outlook could not complete your last action or actions. Please try again."

    Any ideas?

    Thanks for your help,


  35. Cynthia Tayler-Webb says:

    We have exactly the same problem as Recordless in NY.  Our computer support team and Microsoft have/are attempting to sort but have not succeeded.  Please help someone

  36. Bonnie says:

    I'm new to this BCM and was just hired to straighten out a Contact mess in Outlook. One thing I find very disconcerting is that the BCM team has stopped posting entirely since November 9, 2009, which leaves me to believe we're all being ignored. That pisses me off.

    Second issue I have is that I simply need to add a user-defined field in this contacts list of over 2,700 and, while I can add the field, I cannot actually enter any data into it. That's not good. Any help would be appreciated, and it appears we WON'T be hearing from the BCM team.

  37. Jerry says:

    Hi Bonnie,

    Which version of bcm are you using?  How are you trying to add data to it, bulk edit?  from contact directly? From a grid? Import export?  What type of field is it?  

    –Jerry [MSFT] (bcm team)

  38. Rick K says:

    I have a problem that I believe is somewhat related, although I run Outlook and BCM as a standalone, not on a network.

    My main pst file (Outlook.pst) has gotten enormous (over 4 GB) and instead of archiving, I tried to create new pst files and move emails to them.  The problem is that when I move an email to a folder that is in a new data file, I lose all of the links that I established for the email.  If I turn on auto-linking, it will link to the sender's contact, but I lose all the other links that I had established.  Is there any way to do this while maintaining the previous links?

    What is the recommended way to reduce pst file size while maintaining the benefits of BCM?

  39. guitarhero1 says:

    Hi Jerry,

    Regarding the error message 'Unable to link your e-mails. Please try again later' when autolinking in BCM 2010, did you manage to find a solution to the problem Jesse was having in his point 1. I am having the same issue and the same error log.

    Thank you

  40. guitarhero1 says:

    Hi Jerry,

    I found the issue, it was due to the deletion of a duplicate contact. If i restore the contact all is ok. So now i need to resolve the issue of having a duplicate contact if you can help.


  41. Jerry says:

    Hi Guitarhero1,

    The duplicate most likely is because it either has the same fullname with not email address, or shares an email address with another contact.


  42. Jerry says:

    Hi RickK,

    When we link emails in bcm, we use the storeid in combonation with the message id of the email.  When you create a new pst, and move mails into it, not only doesn't that change thier store ID, it also changes the message id.  This is why your mails are no longer linked.  As for your issue with the size of the pst, you could try to compact it, or remove older messges from it.

    How to compact:…/reduce-the-size-of-outlook-data-files-HA010117945.aspx

    –Jerry [MSFT]

  43. Humphreys says:

    I an trying to find a way, any way, but Business contact manager in Outlook would be best of as automatically as possible:-

    Clicking on an E mail addresses on Websites one at a time, sending an E mail no problem so far and then automatically each E mail address gets stored in  a list somewhere for future use when the list has grown for repeated bulk mailings.

  44. Rick H says:

    We don't even have the email linking button under File/BCM…?

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