Can You Have Home Addresses & Business Addresses in the GAL?

I’ve seen dozens of small businesses make this fundamental mistake. A small company wants to share a home postal address among 50 employees. The request comes from the CEO so it has some legs. The Exchange Global Address List (GAL) is the obvious choice since everyone uses Outlook every day. It is, in fact, the de facto Employee Directory.

Home Addresses in the GAL Business Address Fields: A Workaround or Future Roadblock?

The Exchange Global Address List doesn’t have a field for home addresses.

They have an idea! Just drive around the roadblock. Everything will be fine. There is a Business Address field in the GAL. It also has fields for street address, city, state, and postal code. Perfect substitution!

Furthermore, this company only has a single office location. It would be ridiculously redundant to put the same business address on 50 GAL entries. Therefore, why not put the home postal addresses in the vacant business address fields in the GAL?

The idea is adopted. The idea becomes law.

When Outlook users browse the GAL, they notice the business address field labels now have home postal addresses, and it’s all good.

Three years later, the company has four additional office locations and is about to open another.

Now the boss is annoyed. Not remembering his past demands, he demands to know why no one’s business address is in the GAL.

Without changing the status quo, the email administrator now wants to add the business address back into the GAL, and there are 200 users in the GAL.

Companies Grow and Now Need Business Addresses in the GAL.

The current email administrator started with the company one year ago. Way after someone made the decision to place the home address in the GAL Business address fields. And this IT professional has to deal with the current reality:

  • Everyone is accustomed to seeing home addresses in the GAL; changing to business addresses is a scary proposition. Business users don’t like this type of change.
  • When someone adds a GAL contact to Outlook via the GAL, Outlook shows a filled-in business address, which in reality is a home address.
  • When GAL contacts are synced to a smartphone, both iPhone and Android Contacts show business addresses but are employee home addresses. Here’s an interesting (and extremely annoying) scenario that has happened. An employee—on a business trip—gets off a long plane flight, hires a car, and navigates to someone’s home.

Now, take these three uncomfortable examples and multiply them by 200 users who have both Outlook and smartphones.

The Solution to Having Both Home and Business Addresses in the GAL.

The only solution is to take some painful steps now.

First, export and save all the home addresses. Next, replace every GAL entry with the correct business address for each user. We can’t quite take away home addresses just yet. So, where do they go?

There are a few choices of where you can store home postal information:

  • Exchange public contact folder (see below for steps)
  • Contacts folder of an Exchange shared mailbox (see below for steps)
  • GAL extended attributes
  • Contact list in SharePoint
  • Buy a third-party Employee Directory app that integrates with Office 365

To set up a Public Folder or shared mailbox, follow these steps:

  1. Store all employee details in a contact folder.
  2. Use the CiraSync dashboard to sync the public folder to employee mailboxes.
    NOTE: You will need the CiraSync Enterprise Edition for all smartphone users in the company.
  3. Merge with the GAL to the same folder.

Voila, any users you designate can now have a full set of contacts with both business and home postal information.

Watch this space for future blog posts describing how to use the GAL extended attributes, contact list in SharePoint, and a third-party employee directory app. 

More Tales from Tech Support

Set up and start syncing contacts to business smartphones in less than 5 minutes.

Try for Free


CTO and Founder of Cira Apps Limited. I have been building Exchange applications and related contact management for 15 years.