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Exploring Transport Rules in Exchange Server 2013

Transport rules have been a feature of Exchange Server since the 2007 version and have been included in Exchange Server 2013 with a number of improvements.

New Features in Exchange 2013 Transport Rules

Microsoft has published a list of changes and improvements to transport rules on this TechNet page.

Support for data loss prevention policies is one of the major new features in Exchange Server 2013, and this integrates with transport rules.

Exchange 2013 also has a number of new predicates (conditions) and actions for transport rules. A few of the highlights are:

  • Ability to take action on messages that have been sent from specific IP address ranges
  • Ability to take action on messages that have attachments with specific extensions, or that contain executable content
  • Ability to stop subsequent rules from processing a message (this will make the order of rules important for some environments)
  • Ability to generate incident reports to an email address at varying severity levels
  • Transport rule information is now included in message tracking logs
  • Rule monitoring to detect and alert on rules that are delaying email delivery

Managing Transport Rules

Transport rules in Exchange Server 2013 can be managed in two ways. The first is by using the Exchange Management Shell cmdlets:

The second is by using the Exchange Administration Center, in the Mail Flow section under Rules.

Managing Transport Rules in the Exchange Admin Center

Creating New Transport Rules

The New Rule wizard behaves in an interesting way in Exchange Server 2013. If you simply click the + button the New Rule wizard begins and exposes a limited subset of the available conditions and actions in the drop down lists.

Creating a new transport rule in Exchange Server 2013

However, there is also a More options link in the wizard start screen.

Exposing more options for transport rules

Clicking that link expands the options available in the wizard to a much more granular set, as well as the ability to set multiple conditions and actions.

Fine-grain controls for transport rules in Exchange Server 2013

Creating New Transport Rules Based on Templates

In addition to the New Rule wizard behavior shown above you can also create a new rule based on a template of sorts. By clicking the little arrow next to the + icon a menu of common rule types is presented to get you started.

Transport rule templates

For example, choosing the “Apply signature or disclaimers” option from the list the new rule starts with the “Append a disclaimer to the message” action already selected.

Transport rule to append a disclaimer to a message

Other templates present different subsets of actions depending on the general purpose that the rule is for. However in all cases it appears you can still click More options to get access to all of the conditions and actions if needed.

Time-Based Transport Rules

Another useful capability of  Exchange 2013 transport rules is the ability to set specific dates for the rule to be activated and deactivated.

This could be useful for businesses that need to align their disclaimers with specific events such as a marketing campaign, a holiday period, or corporate merger/acquisition.

Transport Rules Audit Mode

Exchange 2013 transport rules also have an audit mode so that they can be tested without impacting message delivery. In the New Rule wizard these options are visible as the two “Test rule…” modes.

Exchange 2013 transport rule test/audit modes

Although they are referred to as “Test” in the Exchange Admin Center the modes are referred to as “Audit” in the New-TransportRule cmdlet parameters.

So in effect a rule can be placed in one of three modes:

  • Enforce – the rule is active and all the actions you have specified will be taken
  • Audit (Test rule with notifications disabled) – the rule is active, and the actions are logged to the message tracking logs, but not actually enforced on the message
  • Audit and Notify (Test rule with notifications enabled) – same as Audit mode except any “Notify…” actions on the rule are taken

Summary

As you can see a number of improvements have been made to transport rules in Exchange Server 2013 that add more power and flexibility to this feature, which will no doubt help many organizations who rely on transport rules today or who have specific needs that aren’t quite met by the transport rules functionality in previous versions of Exchange.

Paul is a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul is a co-author of Office 365 for IT Pros and several other books, and is also a Pluralsight author.
Category: Exchange Server

52 comments

  1. geezbill says:

    Paul, I’m interested in this auditing. What type of reports can be pulled to give details on the transport rules that have been processed? Would like to know what emails went through what rules at what times etc. Also, is this possible for 2010?

  2. jehad khalil says:

    dear
    I was installed exchange 2013 in stead of 2003 few days ago from that time Iam facing problem with the read receipt

    one is generated from the server and the other upon client request for read report the means anyone send us email he received tow read messages for the email the first is onbehalf the receipt and the other upon the sender request for examaple

    from: musheer sheikhali ; on behalf of; musheer sheikhali

    from: musheer sheikhali ;

    these are 2 read receipt for the same email

  3. Sambabs says:

    Hi Paul, I am desperate to change the attachment size limit in Exchange 2013. I haven’t found any good step by step instructions, please help. thanks.

  4. hari says:

    Hi paul,

    is it possible to create rule for, allowed only outgoing mails not need incoming mails for particular user.
    please suggest.

    thanks

  5. Ajishlal says:

    Hi Paul,

    I would like to ask you, how to create a transport rule for rejecting email for distribution group and expect keywords in subject line.
    could you please tell me how we can add multiple keywords in above filtering and how to do this shell script

  6. Reynaldo Ruiz Flores says:

    I cannot use append for a disclaimer. Why? Always back to prepend. Is related to licensing of Exchange 2013 I’m using Standard Server versión & Cals. Do I need Standard Server & Enterprise Cals?

  7. DT says:

    How do you add logo into the disclaimer? I want to create a standard organization signature but with logo, not just text base. Does it allow you to achieve that?

  8. RM says:

    Paul,
    Will transport rules be applied for mails originating from iPhone devices that are linked to the exchange account? We have a rule that will prevent mail from being sent outside the domain. Works on the Outlook client but not from the iPhone iOS. Thanks for any insight.

  9. Ronald says:

    I read one of your article for exchange 2010 ,
    http://practical365.com/restrict-outbound-email-transport-rule/
    someone said that there is a delay of 4 hrs before the rules kick in and the solution was to restart transport services for immediate action. Does it hold true for exchange 2013. Also if have a rule already setup to allow only a certain group to send emails to a particular email address and then I add a user to that group, does it take 4 hrs for that as well?

  10. Deepakraj says:

    Hi Paul, Thanks for the article.
    I have a question. Can we forward all emails to administrator which contain “bcc” ? I know we can do in Ex2007/2010 but I am not able to do for Ex2013. Could you advise me on this? much appreciate your feedback. Thanks

  11. Afaq says:

    Hi Pual,

    how can i block the attachment on emails to sender and receiver on an specific groups. and can block the external emails unable to send and receive out side the domain or organization. Thanks

  12. Bhupinder Singh says:

    In Exchange Server 2013, I want to create mail flow rule so that it can reject the message with explanation as “BCC is not allowed as per company policy”. I found following header in Internet header: X-MS-Exchange-Organization-Recipient-P2-Type: Bcc.

    But when I put this in mail flow rule by specifying as below: A message header includes…
    ‘X-MS-Exchange-Organization-Recipient-P2-Type’ header includes ‘Bcc’

    This rule does not apply. Pls help me out.

  13. Ryan Favila says:

    Is there a way to create a rule that creates delivery receipt and send it to anyone sending from outside the organization. Please help.

  14. JMR says:

    I would like any email with a reply-to address in the return address field has its subjects appended with ‘CAUTION: Reply address is different, could be a hoax’

    is this possible?

  15. JG says:

    I need an auto-responder for a shared mailbox. Anyway I can do that through the transport rules? Right now I have script that disables and enables the autoreplystate every 10 minutes. I am seriously considering buying a third party product for this.

  16. JMocherman says:

    I would like to set a Transport rule to Not request a read receipt for any emails sent to an external domain. Is there a way to do this?

  17. Scott says:

    Hi Paul,

    I am trying to something very close to this article, however, I am confused as to the use of the word ‘group’. Under Apply this rule if… box, it gives me the option of The sender is a member of this group. I would think that I could use an AD group but it appears that Exchange does not look at AD groups for this. Is there any way to do that using the AD groups?

    Thanks!

  18. DOR says:

    Hi,
    we’re using Exchange 2013.

    I’ve been trying to google this for a while and couldn’t find a solution.
    I Created a RULE for one of our users, that “FORWARDS Message for APPROVAL” to his Manager, when the recipient is “OUTSIDE The Organization”.

    The rule works FINE, and the email is delivered to the recipient only after the Manager ACCEPTS.

    The thing is, There seems to be a TIMEOUT for the approval request, and the message is automatically Rejected if the Manager DIDN’T Respond in the first 2-3 Hours.
    ( we encountered this because the manager was on a Flight for 5 hours, and wasn’t able to Respond, not to mention that Iphone users cannot ACCEPT these requests )

    I Simply CANNOT Find any solution or Article that explains how to CHANGE this Auto-Rejection TIME FRAME to a different value.
    I’d appreciate is someone can help me out here… this is destroying the innocence of my soul. 😉

    Thanks in advance,
    Dor

  19. sam_in says:

    Hi Paul,

    My query here is about out of office reply issue. We are having exchange 2013 and outlook 2010. We are setting out of office message to only inside my organization and outside of organization is off. But still outside of organization users are getting out of office message..

    Noe sure why out of office message is going to external users..any suggestion for this?

  20. Kevin says:

    Hi Paul,

    I have been trying to create a rule that would monitor the Reply-To header and if it matches a specific email address remove the Reply-To header. It seems the way to do this would be to use the “Remove this Header” action and setting it to Reply-To. However it is not removing it.

    I know the rule is processing because I added an action to modify the subject and that is occurring.

    Is it possible to remove the Reply-To header or is there any sort of list that explains what headers can be removed?

    Thanks

  21. Shajith says:

    Hi Paul,

    Is there any possibility in exchange 2013 Transport rule to keep a BCC copy to the sender manager when ever the Domain users are sending mail to External.

  22. DM says:

    hi ..
    plz could you tell me if i can send email to all organization and exclude specific nested group from receiving it ??

  23. Pascal says:

    Dear Paul,

    I have a simple question.
    We added a disclaimer on our Exchange 2013 server.
    How can we proof that we have send our disclaimer?
    The customer could lie and say: sorry, I didn’t received your disclaimer.

    Since the disclaimer does not show up in the send items of the employee I must have some kind of proof that the mail did had our disclaimer added by the server.

    Friendly regards,

    Pascal

  24. Ali Mkahal says:

    Dear Paul,

    Can we in someway save the rejected message that is a bulk email for example and make Exchange 2013 send it automatically once the transport rule is turned off ?

    Thanks in advance.

  25. Steven says:

    On occasion, we have users who send out an email with a large attachment to a large number of contacts (250-300). When this happens, our exchange craws.

    Is there anyway to do a rule where if the email has a large size and large recipients, it will be delayed until the evening time, when the exchange server will not be so busy.

  26. Jim says:

    Do you know of any Transport Rule limitations for Exchange 2013? Specifically how big one rule can be? I found an MS article that Exchange online can only be 4kb in size, thus limiting to 4096 characters. But I can’t find any documentation for Exchange 2013.

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