A: Accidentally selecting Reply All on a multi-recipient message you've received can be a career-limiting move, or at least annoying when the message was addressed to hundreds—if not thousands, or tens of thousands—of recipients buried in distribution groups. You can already disable Reply All for users; however, a new add-in from Microsoft Research gives the sender control of whether recipients of the message can use Reply All.

Microsoft Research developed a form they made public recently that lets the sender of a message block the recipients from using Reply All or Forward. You can download the small (~300KB) file from Microsoft's website.

The NoReplyAll add-in requires a very simple installation accomplished by launching setup.exe. It has three prerequisites in addition to either Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2007. These requirements are:

  • Windows Installer 4.5
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4 Client
  • Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Runtime

If any of these applications aren't present, the NoReplyAll setup downloads and initiates the installation—after you accept the EULA—for each missing application. After installing the add-in, you can launch Outlook to show that it has been applied. Select the Office Backstage view by clicking the File tab with Outlook 2010 opened. Next, select Options, then Add-Ins in the left column. As Figure 1 shows, NoReplyAllAddin should be visible in the list if it installed successfully.

Figure 1: Checking to see that the NoReplyAll add-in has been successfully installed
Figure 1: Checking to see that the NoReplyAll add-in has been successfully installed

Now when you create a new email message, you'll see a new section in the Outlook Ribbon, which lets you prevent recipients from using Reply All and Forward, as Figure 2 shows.

Figure 2: No Reply All and No Forward options on a new mail window
Figure 2: No Reply All and No Forward options on a new mail window

Selecting these options disables this functionality for the recipient. Figure 3 shows a received message with the Reply All and Forward functions grayed out. Interestingly, if the message is previewed in the Reading Pane rather than opened in its own window, the Reply All and Forward buttons are still enabled; however, if you select them, an error pops up saying that such an action isn't available.

Figure 3: A received message with the Reply All and Forward functions grayed out
Figure 3: A received message with the Reply All and Forward functions grayed out

This behavior is the result of a macro accompanying the message; it isn't specific to the user, as a Group Policy would be. Every recipient of this message has this functionality disabled for this message. The VBA code that disables the options is as follows:

ActiveInspector.CurrentItem.Actions("Reply to All").Enabled = False<br><p>ActiveInspector.CurrentItem.Actions("Forward").Enabled = False</p>

With the NoReplyAll add-in, senders can easily control the ability of recipients to use Reply All on a message-by-message basis. This feature works as long as the email client used is Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2007, with or without Microsoft Exchange Server.

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