Synchronizing CRM Contacts I do NOT own to my Outlook

I was challenged with this task back in the 3.0 days.  It is great that CRM automatically syncs my CRM contacts to Outlook.  “What happens when multiple users have the same Outlook contact and try to track in CRM?”  Well if the Contact has already been tracked in CRM, the second user will receive a duplicate detection warning when they select Track in CRM from Outlook.  So how can I allow multiple users to have the “synched” contact appear in their Outlook as a tracked Contact?  The answer is pretty simple.  Modify the synchronization rules to include more criteria than just “My Contacts”.  NOTE: You must modify the My Contacts data group as you cannot create a second Contact entity data group.  This works in both Online and Onpremise Outlook Clients.

The following screenshots show you how to accomplish this enhanced synchronization.

  1. Add a custom attribute to the Contact entity.  In this example I created a bit attribute called “Shared Contact?” and formatted it as a checkbox.
    Owned by another user but Shared Contact
    Notice that the Contact Adrian Dumitrascu does not exist in my Outlook Contacts as it is owned by my colleague Jon White.
    Outlook wo contact
  2. Modify the Local Data Groups in the Outlook Client.  Select CRM > Modify Local Data Groups.
    modify local data groups
    • Depending upon which version of the CRM Outlook client you are running (Online or Offline) you will see slightly different results in the Local Data window.
      Offline Local DataOnline Local Data
    • If you attempt to create a new data group for an entity that already is configured you will receive the following error.  To resolve, simply modify the existing entities filtering criteria and click save (not save as).
      must modify existing
  3. Add the new filtering criteria “Shared Contact?” = Yes and group the conditions as OR (select both rows and click on Group OR at the top).
    data group filter

The next time the Outlook synchronization occurs the Shared Contacts will now appear in the users Outlook even if they do not own the Contact in CRM.  Note Adrian Dumitrascu as now synchronized to Outlook below.

outlook w contact


Eric Boocock

Comments (8)

  1. says:

    This is great. In my organisation a request like this is just about to come and I was wondering how will I resolve it as we have more than 100,000 contacts in our database.

    Great stuff

  2. matzer says:

    Is it somehow possible to take contacts offline according to configured data group but sync just a subset of them (or a different contact dataset) to outlook contacts?


  3. ChrisOtto says:


    I prefere to use personalized marketing lists.

    We just created a marketing list for every user called something like "Chris Outlook Contacts" and then I add every contact to this list.

    Then I create a filter for the Outlook sync where I used the marketing list as criteria.

    Best Regards,


  4. John Ball says:

    Had the same problem, the way I got around it was to establish a new Realtionship from the Contact to the Users Table (Displayed as Outlook Sync) on the Contacts Form.  When users want to have the contact in their contacts they add themselves in the Sync to Utlook, by using the Add existing user button displayed.   The local Data Group is then mofied to pull contacts where the Related Outlook Sync equals users full name.   Works for me 🙂

  5. Martin Edelius says:

    We solved this by creating a text field in the contacts form called "Synchronize with". Each employee that wants this contact in their own contact list adds his or her unique employee ID to this field separated with spaces.

    The local data group logic then looks for any contact that contains that specific users ID in the field thus synching it to Outlook.

  6. stephenvnoe says:

    We have also done something similar using a custom entity so that users could add thier own ‘My accounts’ in CRM 3.0 but I really like the idea of a CRM 4.0 relationship to the User entity from John Ball above. I’ have to try that one!

    Steve Noe, MCT (CRM)

  7. Phil Edry says:

    I would like to propose a different approach to this solution that allows users to select individual contacts or groups of contacts to sync to outlook through simple workflow and a custom entity.

    We have step-by-step implementation steps to create the entity and worflow and configure outlook local data settings, as well as suggestions for how to extend the solution further to sync all contacts belonging to companies and automate workflow to a further extent. Hope readers here will take a look.

    Phil Edry, Altriva Solutions

  8. Chris Lefsrud says:

    Not entirely true.  It is possible to create more than one Local data group for the same entity; I have never encountered the message displayed in the blog, either in 4.0 or 3.0.

    Many of the solutions provided for this issue are very intensive from a data maintenance perspective.  On the other hand, these solutions allow for very specific selection of desired contact records.  An different approach is to rely on the synchronization of the Address Book from CRM.  The Address Book is a different beast than the collection of contact records; it provides for the synching also of other entities in CRM that have email addresses; this solution works particularly well if the primary issue is the ability to email (as opposed to phone) ‘contacts’.  To use, under CRM > Options…, on the Address Book tab, set the radio button for ‘Contacts’ to "Match all contacts…", and the ‘Other Record Types’ to "Match all items…" and set the desired synchronization frequency.  Save and complete an on-demand synch (CRM > Syncrhonize with CRM.  Now open your Address Book (Tools > Address Book…).  In the Address Book dropdown, note the bottom set of entries for CRM.  This list basically includes all entities with email address fields (contacts, accounts, leads, etc,).  Under each of these entities, the list of records includes all of the records in CRM that have email addresses (plus any Outlook contact information for non-CRM contacts).  With this synchronization in place, the "Check Names" feature for finding email addresses will find any address in any of these lists.  These records do not exist as "Contact" records (unless they exist as Outlook contacts via some other means).  Additionally, these entries in the Address book can be opened to display other data from CRM (phone numbers, address, etc.) and a button to open the CRM record.  All this without the effort of maintaining individual records of any type, or inflating your Outlook Contacts list.  Obviously, this solution is better suited to ‘consumers’ as opposed to ‘maintainers’ of CRM contact information.

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