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02.08.2021

How to disable Focus Inbox in Outlook for All/Selective users in Microsoft 365

For many, the inbox is the command center for their day. It’s the way to keep track of what is going on and what needs to get done. Outlook’s Focused Inbox makes this process easier by helping you focus on the emails that matter most to you. It separates your inbox into two tabs—Focused and Other. Emails you need to act on right away are in the Focused tab, while the rest wait for you in Other.
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Introduction

Did your organization recently moved to Microsoft 365 and your users are wondering why are they missing their emails? Well, this could be because of a feature called Focused Inbox that is enabled by default in Microsoft 365 and unless you do not know how to use it, it is nothing but trouble.

Note: This feature has a lot of advantages than you can think of. It can really help you stay on top of things!

Focused Inbox is not meant to take control of your mail, but rather work with you to prioritize what is actionable for you. What lands in your Focused Inbox is determined by an understanding of the people you interact with often, and the content of the email itself (e.g., newsletters, machine generated mail, etc.). If you need to fine tune your Focused Inbox, just use the “Move to Focused” or “Move to Other” options.

Focused Inbox Enabled
Focused Inbox Enabled
Focused Inbox Disabled
Focused Inbox Disabled
Pre-Requisites
Messaging Policy & Compliance Permissions

You can refer to the below links to understand how to grant these permissions to a user who is required to perform the task of disabling Focused Inbox for the entire organization.

Exchange Online (EXO) Service Admin Access
How to get Exchange Online Service Admin Access?
  • You will have to reach out to your Tenant’s Global Admin and request him to grant you access.
  • Login to Microsoft 365 Admin Portal
  • Expand the Users section and click on Active Users.
  • Search for the user who needs to be granted the EXO Service Admin role and click on the user’s Display name.
  • You will be presented with the user details panel.
  • On the Accounts tab, you will see a section called Roles.
  • Clicking on the Manage Roles option will present the Manage admin roles
  • Click the Admin center access radio button and then select the Exchange Administrator option
  • Click Save changes

The user will have to log out and log back in again so that the role change becomes effective.

Exchange Online PowerShell Module V1 (EXO V1) or Exchange Online PowerShell Module V2 (EXO V2) installed on the machine being used.

Exchange Online PowerShell Module v1 (EXO V1) does not support Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). So, if the account that you are using for performing the action has MFA enabled, consider using Exchange Online PowerShell Module v2 (EXO V2).

How to check which Exchange Online PowerShell version is installed?
  • EXO V1 does not require any installation. All you need to do is connect and import the module using PowerShell commands (commands discussed later).
  • Since EXO V2 requires an installation, it is always a good practice to check if the required module is installed or not using the below command:
    • Get-Module -ListAvailable -Name *Exch*
  • If the EXO V2 module is installed, check what version is currently installed, you can run the below command:
    • Import-Module ExchangeOnlineManagement; Get-Module ExchangeOnlineManagement

At the time of writing this content, the latest version of the EXO V2 module was 2.0.4. You can refer to the Release Notes section of this article to get the version of the Current Release:

About the Exchange Online PowerShell V2 module | Microsoft Docs

How to install

As stated above, only Exchange Online PowerShell version v.2 (EXO V2) requires installation, to install the EXO V2 module for the first time, complete the following steps

  • Install or update the PowerShellGet module as described in Installing PowerShellGet.
  • Close and re-open the Windows PowerShell window
  • Now you can use the Install-Module cmdlet to install the EXO V2 module from the PowerShell Gallery:
  • In an elevated PowerShell window (all users):
    • Install-Module -Name ExchangeOnlineManagement
  • When you are finished, enter Y to accept the license agreement.
How to update

If the module is already installed on your computer, you can run the command we shared above to see the version that is currently installed and update it to the latest version using the below command:

  • Update-Module -Name ExchangeOnlineManagement
How to uninstall

To uninstall the module, run one of the below command (in an elevated PowerShell window)

  • Uninstall-Module -Name ExchangeOnlineManagement
List of users in .csv format
  • Ensure the CSV file is in the same folder where you run this PowerShell script from
  • Below is the sample for the CSV file:
EmailAddress
John.doe@contoso.com
Ricky.Ponting@contoso.com
  • Save the file as csv
Turn Focused Inbox On or Off in your organization

You use PowerShell to turn Focused Inbox on or off for everyone in your organization.

  • Connect to Exchange Online PowerShell (v1 or v2)
  • You need to be assigned below RBAC permissions before you can perform this procedure:
    • Organization Management
    • Records Management
  • Run the below command to get the current status:
    • Get-OrganizationConfig
  • Check the value of FocusedInboxOn to view its current setting.
  • Run the following cmdlet to turn Focused Inbox off.
    • Set-OrganizationConfig -FocusedInboxOn $false

Note: This change cannot be performed from the Microsoft 365 Admin Center.

Executing the script on the mailboxes

Now that you have clarity on whether you are using the EXOV1 or EXO V2 PowerShell Module, it should be easy for you to decide which path to follow.

EXO PowerShell V1 execution process

Before you run the script, please ensure you have met all the pre-requisites so that you get the desired outcome. After you confirm having met all the pre-requisites, copy and save the below script in your favourite script editor and save it as a AllUsers.ps1 file ensuring that the script and the CSV File are saved in the same location.

#Make sure the csv file is in the same folder where you run this powershell from
#Connect to Exchange Online PowerShell
Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
$UserCredential = Get-Credential
$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
Import-PSSession $Session -DisableNameChecking -AllowClobber
#Change this to path of the csv file that contains EmailAddress of all User Mailboxes you want to get a report for
$List = import-csv ".AllUsers.csv"
#Loop through each row in csv
ForEach ($User in $List)
{
$UserID = $User.EmailAddress
Set-FocusedInbox -Identity $UserID -FocusedInboxOn $False
Write-Host "Focused Inbox disabled for $UserID"
}
Remove-PSSession
EXO PowerShell V2 execution process

Before you run the script, please ensure you have met all the pre-requisites so that you get the desired outcome. After you confirm having met all the pre-requisites, copy and save the below script in your favourite script editor and save it as a AllUsers.ps1 file ensuring that the script and the CSV File are saved in the same location.

#Import Exchange Online PowerShell Module
Import-Module ExchangeOnlineManagement
#Connect to Exchange Online PowerShell
Connect-ExchangeOnline -UserPrincipalName
# is your account in user principal name format
#Change this to path of the csv file that contains EmailAddress of all User Mailboxes you want to get a report for
$List = import-csv ".AllUsers.csv"
#Loop through each row in csv
ForEach ($User in $List)
{
$UserID = $User.EmailAddress
Set-FocusedInbox -Identity $UserID -FocusedInboxOn $False
Write-Host "Focused Inbox disabled for $UserID"
}
Remove-PSSession
Verifying the outcome

After we are done running the above script, we now need to verify if the focused inbox has been disabled for the users or not. In order to verify the same, run the below command and then Look for FocusedInboxOn to view its current setting:

Get-FocusedInbox -Identity
Conclusion

Well, you now know that the Focused Inbox can be disabled at the Org level as well as for specific users. You should now be able to decide how you want to implement the change.

References
Written By
Akkhil Ohri
Akkhil Ohri
Microsoft 365 solution architect
peer reviewed By
JAsjit Chopra
chief executive officer
Graphics designed By
sanika sanaye
Creative Design Director
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