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Shared mailboxes and email lists

In addition to personal email addresses, Information Services (UIS) provides:

  • shared mailboxes
  • mailing lists

Shared mailboxes

Shared mailboxes are intended to provide a fixed address for Institutional use. Examples include an course enquiry point for a Department, a library address or a secretarial address.

In some cases, such as an enquiry point, it may be necessary for several people to access the account; in other cases, such as a secretarial address, the mailbox will only be accessed by one person at any one time, and the address is used to ensure continuity when staff change. Whatever the use, shared mailboxes should never be used for personal email. Should the person to whom the mailbox is registered leave the University or be unavailable, control of the mailbox will be given to another person in the Institution on the request of the Institution.

Mail, Mail addresses and Mail Forgery

The ISC guidelines are quite clear about the authentication of electronic mail messages. The sender, the person who sends the message, must be identified in the headers of the message. In practice, this means that each person who uses the mailbox must change the Mail User Agent configuration file before sending mail. In the case of hermes webmail, this means configuring a role for each person, further details are available in webmail help. The rules specify that the human sender of the mail must be identified either in the From: field or by a Sender: field. If neither of these is possible, then the X-sender field could be used.

If it is not possible for the sender to be identified in the headers, then users of the mailbox must identify themselves in the sent message, although this is not strictly abiding by the Internet rules.

Applying for a shared mailbox

If an institution feels that it needs a shared mailbox, a senior member of the Institution (often the Computer Officer) will be asked to agree to the following:

  • The Institution must nominate a single person to be responsible for the security of the password of the mail account. Each user of the mailbox must have agreed to abide by the rules of the UIS and signed the relevant declaration (the Application form for Computing Resources may be used for this purpose).
  • If the responsibility for the account changes, the UIS must be informed. The password of the account will normally only be issued to the nominated person.
  • It must always be possible to identify the sender of a message. If at all possible, sender should be identified by personal name (not by role) in the From field.
  • The password of the shared hermes account must be changed whenever there is a change in staff. In the case of misuse of the account, the department must be able to identify the sender of the mail.
  • The UIS takes no responsibility for any loss of mail that might be incurred in the use of a shared mailbox and cannot offer any help in reconstructing a damaged mailbox.

The address of the mailbox

The shared mailbox will be implemented on Hermes. The name will usually be closely related to the Institution's DNS name and must be negotiated with the Computing Service. The mechanism used to implement shared mailboxes is different from that used for personal mailboxes. It is not possible for such addresses to be included in the World Wide Web email search and it is not possible to set the @cam pointer for shared accounts. Shared mailbox names must be 3-8 characters long. The email address of the shared mailbox will therefore be something like

However, we recommend that you use a role email address in your messages. For example, St. Botolph's College could have a shared mailbox The associated role email address could be Role addresses can be handled using a Managed Mail Domain.

Using shared mailboxes with Hermes Webmail

In order to use a shared mailbox with Hermes Webmail you will need to log into the shared mailbox using Webmail, then:

New Hermes Webmail

Select Settings then Identities then select the identity and change Email to either the role address or the boxname, as described above.

Old Hermes Webmail

To use a role address go to Manage > Preferences > Compose and change the From Address to the role address as outlined above.

If you can not use a role address then go to Manage > Preferences > Extra Compose and change the Default domain from to This changes the default From Address to be

Apply online for a shared mailbox.

Mailing lists

Mailing lists are usually used to send a single message to a group of users, examples include staff lists for institutions and member lists for University Societies. They can also be used to provide a permanent contact point for a group, despite changes in the group. Mailing lists are available to institutions, research groups and University Societies. See the information on mailing lists. To apply for a mailing list, please fill in the online web application form.

Last updated: August 2017

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