Set up Office 365


As the administrator for your organization, you’ve signed up for Microsoft Office 365 for enterprises. You signed in to your Office 365 account, explored the Admin Overview page, and watched the video tour for administrators.

Now what?

As the admin, there are a few important setup tasks you need to do before the people in your organization can use Office 365. This guide leads you through those steps.

Let’s get started.

Set up Office 365 for your organization

  • Step 1: Choose your domain and set up user accounts

  • Step 2: Set up email

  • Step 3: Set up your team site and documents

  • Step 4: Set up mobile access

  • Step 5: Set up online communication tools

  • Step 6: Get everybody ready

  • Step 7: Meet compliance requirements

Step 1: Choose your domain and set up user accounts

Do you want your email addresses to use the name of your organization, like or Most organizations do. You can do this in Office 365 if you already have a registered domain name. If you don’t already own a domain, you can use the domain that you get with Office 365, which looks something like

Before you do anything else, we recommend that you decide which domain to use and then create user accounts.

Do key tasks

  1. Decide if you want your email to use your custom domain. If you don’t have a custom domain or don’t want to use yours, you can use the domain that you get with Office 365.

  2. Set up your domain. If you want to use your custom domain, we’ll show you how to get it working with Office 365. See Add your domain to Office 365.

    Don’t have a domain yet but want one? We recommend that you get one and set it up before you create user accounts. See Locate your domain services or buy a new domain.

  3. Create user accounts. No matter what kind of domain you have, you need to create user accounts so the people in your organization can sign in and use Office 365. There are several ways to do this:

After you add users to your organization, you can then assign administrator roles and change the services available to each user by managing licenses.

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Step 2: Set up email

Office 365 comes with Microsoft Exchange Online (which provides your email, calendar, contacts, and more) and Microsoft Outlook Web App (which you can use to read all that information). When you created user accounts in Step 1, Office 365 automatically created a mailbox for each user. You’ll need to import each user’s email to Office 365 so that the new Outlook Web App mailboxes can find it. If your company uses Microsoft Outlook, you’ll need to update Outlook so that it can find everyone’s email, too.

You can import your users’ mailboxes to Office 365 in one of several ways. You can migrate your email by transferring your mailboxes completely into Office 365 and discontinuing use of your on-premises mailboxes. There are several options for migration: cutover, staged, and IMAP. You can also keep your on-premises mailboxes in sync with your Office 365 mailboxes by setting up Exchange hybrid deployment.

Do key tasks

You can migrate up to 1,000 mailboxes completely to the cloud by choosing one of the following options:

Another option is to sync on-premises mailboxes with cloud mailboxes:

  • Exchange hybrid deployment: If you’re currently running Exchange Server 2003, Exchange Server 2007, or Exchange Server 2010 on premises, you can keep some mailboxes on premises while moving others to Office 365 by setting up Exchange Online Hybrid Deployment and Migration with Office 365.

    To migrate more than 1,000 Exchange Server 2010 mailboxes, you must perform an Exchange hybrid deployment.

Other key tasks:

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Step 3: Set up your team site and documents

SharePoint Online includes team sites. They provide a central place to access your organization’s documents and business information from almost anywhere. You’ll need to add documents to team sites and give people permission to access them. You can also customize team sites with shared lists, calendars, pages, and more.

You get Office Online (which includes Excel Online, OneNote Online, PowerPoint Online, and Word Online) with your team site. You can also save and access other documents on a team site, including documents made with the Office desktop applications.

Do key tasks

  1. Set up your team site:

  2. Give people permission to access the team site:

  3. Start using Office Online:

  4. Use Office desktop applications with Office 365:

    If you have Microsoft Office Professional Plus or another version of Office desktop apps, you can use them with Office 365. First set up your desktop to work with Office 365. To do this, on the Office 365 portal, in the right pane, click Downloads, and then follow the directions.

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Step 4: Set up mobile access

Because Office 365 stores your data in the cloud, you can access that data from cell phones and other mobile devices.

Do key tasks

After your email is on Exchange Online (which comes with Office 365), you can read it on a mobile device. You can also receive Lync alerts. As the admin for your organization, you can turn those settings on or off for everybody else.

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Step 5: Set up online communication tools

With Lync you can see if your coworkers are online, and you can communicate with them through instant messaging (IM), audio calls, or video calls. You can even conduct online presentations that include audio, video, screen-sharing, and a virtual whiteboard.

Do key tasks

  1. Choose audio and video devices: Phones and Devices Qualified for Microsoft Lync

  2. Set up your network for Lync Online

  3. Test your Lync Online installation

  4. Review available training and adoption resources:

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Step 6: Get everybody ready

After you’ve set up Office 365, you have another task—preparing and training the people in your organization.

Do key tasks

  1. Test Office 365 for yourself.

    After you’ve set up the services and features mentioned in this guide, test them yourself before you let your organization use them. Testing saves you a lot of time and may reduce the number of support calls you get later.

  2. Tell your organization what to expect.

    Send an email message to the people in your organization, telling them that they will be using Office 365 soon. To learn more about Office 365, they can watch the Office 365: a tour for users.

  3. Send instructions to each user.

    All users should have a user ID and temporary password, which were sent to them by Office 365 when you created their user accounts. When you are ready to roll out Office 365, send each person an email message that contains the information needed to get started:

Solve problems

As the admin at your organization, you’re probably the person everyone goes to for help. That will probably also be true for Office 365. If you get asked a question that you don’t know the answer to, there are resources specifically for admins like you.

More resources:

  • Office 365 Help: Help topics written by the Office 365 team.

  • Wiki posts

  • Community forums, where you can ask experts your questions, including Microsoft Online Services Technical Support representatives.

  • You can also hire a partner to support Office 365 for your organization.

Step 7: Meet compliance requirements

Office 365 includes features in Microsoft Exchange Online and in SharePoint Online that you can use to help your organization meet its legal, regulatory, and organizational compliance requirements.

Do key tasks

For Exchange Online, visit Security and Compliance for Exchange Online in Office 365 to do the following:

  • Prevent the deletion of email messages in order to comply with data retention requirements or legal requirements

  • Search for items relating to specific legal cases or requests from regulatory authorities

  • Control the flow of messages and implement actionable rules based on message content or on message senders and recipients

  • Encrypt content and enforce email usage policies

For SharePoint Online, visit Records management and compliance in SharePoint Online to do the following:

  • Create and apply information management policies

  • Create retention and expiration policies and rules for content

  • Search and create a hold to protect specific documents or items from expiration policies

See Also

Get started with Office 365