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OWA (Light) Guide

This guide assumes that you already know the basics of using Outlook Web Access (Light version), such as reading, replying to, and deleting your email, and composing new messages. If you need help with any of these tasks then please refer to the Introduction to OWA.

In order to make the best use of your University email, you will need to know how to attach files to messages, use folders to manage your email, use the address book, set up mail forwarding, and more. Please browse the sections below for more information.

See also: OWA (Full) guide.

1. Folders

1.2. Managing Folders

You can create new folders as sub-folders of your inbox, or at the same level as your inbox. Folders may contain messages and/or other folders.

Manage Folders               screen
Figure 4. Manage Folders screen

You can structure your mail however is most convenient for you, with folders within folders to any depth you like. To manage your folders, click on the link Manage Folders... in the Navigation Pane at the left side of the screen. This opens the Manage Folders screen (see Figure 4, Manage Folders screen).

Create a new               folder
Figure 5. Create a new folder

To create a new folder, select name of the folder which you want to be the parent folder, in the Create folder in: box. To create a top-level folder, choose your own name as the parent folder. Then type the name of the new folder into the resulting box, e.g. Big Project (see Figure 5, Create a new folder) and click Create.

To rename a folder, select the folder in the Current name: box, type in the new name in the box below, and click Rename. Built-in folders, such as Inbox, Drafts, or Deleted Items, cannot be renamed.

To move a folder, select the folder in the Folder to move: box, then choose a new parent folder for it, and click Move. The folder and all its contents (including any sub-folders) will be moved to the new location. Built-in folders cannot be moved.

To delete a folder, select the folder in the Folder name: box, and click Delete. This will move the folder, along with all messages and sub-folders contained within it, to your Deleted Items folder. Built-in folders cannot be deleted.

1.3. Move Messages Between folders

By default, mail messages sent to you are placed in the Inbox, and messages that you send are placed in the Sent Items folder. However, you can move a message to any folder you want.

Move a message
Figure 6. Move a message

To move a message, open the message by clicking on it in your list of messages, and choose Move from the toolbar at the top of the message (see Figure 6, Move a message).

Move to Folder               screen
Figure 7. Move to Folder screen

You can now select one of your recently-used folders by clicking the radio button next to its name, or choose any folder from the list. Once you have chosen your destination folder, click Move to move the message.

Move multiple               messages
Figure 8. Move multiple messages

You can move a number of messages at once, from your message list. Click in the checkbox next to each one so that a green tick appears, or select all by clicking in the checkbox at the top of the list (see Figure 8, Move multiple messages). Then click Move in the toolbar at the top of the list and follow the procedure above.

2. Restoring deleted items

When you delete a message, it will be moved into your Deleted Items folder. It will stay in that folder for 90 days from the date of deletion, before being automatically removed from the system. Beware, some email clients will automatically empty your Deleted Items folder when you log off! Check the settings for your client if you are not sure.

If you want to recover an item which is still in your Deleted Items folder, simply select the item and click Move in the toolbar above the message. Choose the folder you want to restore it to and click the Move button.

If the 90 days has expired, or if you (or your email client) already deleted the item from your Deleted Items folder, it is still possible to recover the item for a further 7 days, but you will need to log in to the full version of OWA or Outlook. OWA-full compatible browsers are installed on the computers in the IT Services Help Centre. Please see the instructions for recovering deleted items using OWA Full Version for details.

3. Sorting messages

By default, messages in your inbox, and in other folders, are sorted by date, with the newest message at the top. OWA provides several other ways to sort messages, which can help you to find a particular message or group of messages when you want to.

You can sort messages by any of the column headings in your inbox, simply by clicking the column label:

Sort messages by importance - low, normal and high. The importance is set by the sender.
Sort messages into types - separates non-email items such as meeting requests
Sort messages depending on whether they have an attachment
Sort messages alphabetically by sender
Sort messages alphabetically by subject line. Where the subject line begins with "Re:" or "Fwd:", this is ignored for sorting
Sort messages by the date (and time) when they were received
Sort messages by their size including any attachments

Each of these sorting options has a default order, such as A on top, newest on top, or largest on top. You can reverse the order by clicking on the column heading again.

Sorting messages
Figure 9. Sorting messages

You can see which column your messages are sorted on, by looking for a small arrow next to the column heading. For example, in Figure 9, Sorting messages, messages are sorted by subject.

5. Attachments

Email messages are text. To send other kinds of file, such as graphics, word processed documents, spreadsheets, and so on, you need to use attachments. You can attach any file that your browser can access, for example on a local USB drive or hard disk, within certain size restrictions (see Frequently Asked Questions). In order to be able to read the attachment, the receiver needs to have appropriate software to read the file. For example, if you send a Word 2003 document, they will need to use Word 2003, or another application which understands Word 2003 file format, to read it. Some email servers will not accept attachments which they consider risky, such as executable files, so it is best to check with the recipient before sending.

5.1. Attaching a File to a Message

Attach files icon
Figure 11. Attach files icon

To send a message with an attachment, begin by starting to compose a new message as normal. Then click on the paperclip icon at the top of the screen, or the attachments link (see Figure 11, Attach files icon).

Browse to file(s)
Figure 12. Browse to file(s)

Next click on Browse on the left hand side of the resulting screen (Figure 12, Browse to file(s)). This will open a dialog box where you can browse the available drives and folders to choose the file you want to attach. Once you have located the file, click Open. The file name now appears in the attachment box, click Attach to upload the file ready for sending.

Attach files
Figure 13. Attach files

The name of the file, and its size, will now appear in the list of Attachments, in the main part of the screen (Figure 13, Attach files). You can add further attachments in the same way. If you wish to remove an attachment, click the checkbox next to it and then click Remove.

Once you have selected all the files that you want to attach, click Done to return to the message.

5.2. Receiving an Attachment

Message with               attachments
Figure 14. Message with attachments

When you receive a message with an attachment, a small paperclip icon appears next to the message in your inbox. When you open the message, you will see a list of attached files at the top of the message (e.g. see Figure 14, Message with attachments).

To view an attached file, click its name in the attachments list. You may be given some information about the dangers of downloading unknown files from the network. If you do decide to go ahead, you can either save the file, or choose to open it now. If you open it now, your browser will attempt to find an appropriate application based on the filename.

If you want to save the file after you have opened it, use the application's [File/Save As...] command to put it in an appropriate location. Do not use [File/Save] because the Browser will then choose its own location and you will not know which drive and folder the file has been saved to!

Some attachments can be viewed as a webpage, by clicking on the link Open as Webpage next to the name of the file. This is particularly useful if you are using a computer which does not have the appropriate application, such as Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat, installed. It is also a safer way to view potentially harmful attachements, but you should never open any type of attachment, even from someone you trust, unless you are expecting it.

Please note: OWA will prevent you from sending certain types of files e.g. XML, giving the following message:
"Outlook Web Access has blocked access to attachments."

If you receive a HTML file as an attachment and it contains code that could automatically run when you download it from Outlook Web Access, the 'offending' code gets silently stripped out (and any CSS gets commented out). This hppens in both OWA Light and 'full' OWA. If you need the code to remain available in the attachment then use an email client (e.g. Outlook or Thunberbird) instead.

5.3. Blocked Attachments

The Nexus server blocks some types of email attachments which are particularly unsafe, such as Microsoft Access databases, and executable files.

Message with               blocked attachment
Figure 15. Message with blocked attachment

In this case, you will see a notification at the top of the message, informing you of the name of the blocked attachment (e.g. see Figure 15, Message with blocked attachment).

6. Signatures

Many people like to have a standard closing phrase, or details of their job title, address, contact details, and so on in their messages. A signature allows you to do this without having to type the information in each time.

Create/Modify Signature
Figure 16. Create/Modify Signature

To set up an automatic signature in OWA choose Options (at the top right of the screen) and then click Messaging (in the Navigation pane on the left-hand side). You will see a screen which looks like Figure 16, Create/Modify Signature, where you can enter your signature and choose whether OWA should apply it by default to all new messages.

If you choose Automatically include my signature on outgoing messages, every time you compose a new message you will see your signature text at the bottom (you can then change or delete it for that message). If the signature is not automatically added, you cannot use it in OWA Light, as there is no option to add the signature when writing a message. However, your signature created in OWA Light will also appear in OWA Full and in Outlook, where you can add it at the time of writing the message.

Once you are happy with your signature, click Save at the top of the screen to confirm your changes.

7. Out of Office Assistant

You can use OWA to set up the Outlook Out of Office Assistant, which automatically replies to your emails with a pre-written message of your choice. All the messages you receive while the Out of Office Assistant is active are received and stored in your inbox as normal and can be read, replied to, saved and so on at any time, including while the Out of Office facility is active. The system replies only once to each person who sends you a message, however many times they subsequently email you. The system is reset each time you switch off the Out of Office system.

Out of Office Assistant
Figure 17. Out of Office Assistant

To enable the Out of Office Assistant, click Options and then select Out of Office Assistant. Choose Send Out of Office auto-replies, and, if desired, choose the start and finish date for when you want the service to be active. If you leave this blank, the Out of Office Assistant will start working immediately and will remain active until you switch it off.

You can set up two separate auto-responses, one for people who email you from within the University, and the other for senders who are outside the University system. In each case, type in your message into the appropriate box, ensuring that the Replace my current Out Of Office message with the following checkbox is ticked. When you are happy with your messages, click Save at the top of the screen.

8. Filtering Emails

The University email servers will automatically intercept some junk mail (commonly called spam) before it reaches you, in particular, emails containing malware (programs or documents which are damaging, intrusive or annoying to the recipient). You can read more about how it works at

In addition to this University-wide protection, you can choose whether to apply further filters to your email.

Junk Email filtering             options
Figure 18. Junk Email filtering options

In OWA, click Options (top right of the screen) and then choose Junk E-Mail to open the Filtering options screen (Figure 18, Junk Email filtering options).

As well as switching filtering on or off, this screen allows you to access more advanced features:

Safe Senders List
Specify the addresses of any senders whose messages should not be considered spam (sometimes known as whitelist).
Also trust e-mail from my Contacts
Select this option to include address in your personal Contacts list as safe senders
Blocked Senders List
Specify the addresses of any senders whose messages should always be considered spam (sometimes known as blacklist).
Safe Recipients List
Specify any To: addresses for which you want to disable filtering, for example, if you are forwarding mail from another server which is already spam-filtered, or if you never want to delete messages sent to you via a particular mailing list.
Treat all e-mail as junk unless...
This specifies that all messages should be filtered to your Junk mail folder, unless they come from someone in your Safe Senders List, are sent to someone in your Safe Recipients lists, or come from senders within the University.

Remember to click Save at the top of the screen to confirm your choices.

9. Contacts and the Address Book

Outlook Web Access offers two places to look up email addresses: Contacts and the shared Global Address Book. All university members are listed in the Global Address Book, unless they have opted out. Contacts is a private list where you can store other contacts and Distribution Lists.

9.1. The Global Address Book

Nexus provides a directory containing the email address and department/college of each current University member. This is available through the Global Address Book.

To access the global address book, click on Address Book in the toolbar at the top of the screen.

Address Book button in toolbar
Figure 19. Address Book button in toolbar

The address book opens in a separate window (Figure 20, Global Address Book). To view further details, click on a person's name.

Global Address               Book
Figure 20. Global Address Book

9.2. Contacts

Contacts is your personal list of people you might want to contact through Nexus. As well as email addresses, Outlook can store their postal address, telephone number, notes etc.

To view your contacts, click on Contacts in the Navigation Pane on the left-hand side of your browser. If you have not used Contacts before, this will be empty.

Contacts view before               any contacts are added
Figure 21. Contacts view before any contacts are added

9.2.1. Adding Contacts

To add a new contact, click New Contact above the contacts list to open a blank Contact Details screen.

Enter their details, particularly their email address, and then click Save and Close (at the top of the screen).

Create New                 Contact
Figure 22. Create New Contact

The newly created contact should now be visible in your contacts: Figure 23, Contacts view with new entry. You can view or edit their details by clicking on their name.

Contacts view with                 new entry
Figure 23. Contacts view with new entry

9.2.2. Editing and Deleting Contacts

You can make changes to, or delete, contacts from your list (but you cannot update the Global Address List).

To add extra details, or to change existing information about a contact, click on their name in your contacts list to view their full details (see Figure 24, View full contact details), and then click Edit Contact. This opens up the same screen as when you add a new contact, but already filled in with their information. You can add, change, and delete information as needed and then click Save and Close to store the information.

View full contact                 details
Figure 24. View full contact details

To delete a contact, select them in your contacts list and click the Delete button at the top of the list (see Figure 25, Delete contact). The contact will be moved to your Deleted Items folder.

Delete                 contact
Figure 25. Delete contact

9.2.3. Using Contacts

To send an email to one of your contacts, you can either select them in Contacts and click Send E-Mail (see Figure 26, Compose a message to a contact), or add them to the To: field of any message (see 9.4. Message recipients).

Compose a message to a                 contact
Figure 26. Compose a message to a contact

9.3. Distribution Lists

A distribution list is a way of grouping contacts together so that you can send messages to a number of people at the same time, such as a small research group. If you want to email a large group of people at once, it is better to create a special mailing list - see for more information.

You cannot create a distribution list in the Light version of OWA. However, if you have created a distribution list using the Full version, or using Outlook, you can view and use it from OWA Light.

9.4. Message recipients

You can specify the people you want to send a message to, using any combination of email addresses, Nexus usernames, individual Contact names or display names, and distribution list names in your To: field, separated by semi-colons.

Check names of               recipients
Figure 27. Check names of recipients

Click Check Names to automatically convert usernames and aliases into email addresses based on your contacts and/or the global address book. Where a name cannot be uniquely matched, a list of suggestions will appear in the left-hand pane (e.g. see Figure 27, Check names of recipients); click on the correct one to select it or click Delete next to the original name to remove it.

The same applies to the CC: and BCC: fields.

For more information about address books, including details of how to import your existing address book, please see Contacts in Nexus.

10. Using the Nexus Calendar

To view your Nexus calendar, click the Calendar button on the left of the screen.

Calendar view (Work Week             display)
Figure 28. Calendar view (Work Week display)

You can change the calendar display by using the buttons in the top navigation bar: Day, Work Week, Week, Month.

Navigate between different dates by using the mini-calendar on the left of your screen. Appointments will be marked in the calendar against the relevant time slot. To view full information about a calendar entry, or to edit it, click on its title.

If you already have a calendar in Outlook 2003/2007 or Entourage 2008, you can upload it to Nexus so that you can access it via OWA. To do the upload, you will need to set up Outlook or Entourage to connect to your Nexus account. Please see Calendars for details.

10.1. Adding an appointment to your calendar

To add an appointment, click on the New Appointment button in the navigation bar above the calendar. When the new appointment window opens, add the necessary information. Click on Save and Close to add the appointment to your calendar.

Create Appointment
Figure 29. Create Appointment

The level of detail you want to add to the appointment will depend on the specific circumstances. If the appointment is merely to act as a reminder to yourself, you will probably just want to put a suitable subject, and perhaps a location. In the example above, the main text has been filled in with a schedule for the day. You can use this free text area for any notes or comments, and can even attach files. This is most useful when the appointment or meeting is to be shared with others.

You can also choose whether to mark the duration of the new appointment as Free, Busy, Tentative, or Out of Office in your calendar. Other people can use this information to help them to schedule meetings with you.

10.2. Choosing Attendees and Scheduling

To invite people to the meeting or event, open the event by clicking on it in your calendar (or create a new event). Click the Invite Attendees button.

Add attendees
Figure 30. Add attendees

This activates the attendees fields: Required, Optional, and Resources. You can add people to the Required and Optional fields in the same way as when sending an email message - choose them from the list of recent recipients on the left of your screen, or click the Required or Optional buttons to choose people from the Global Address Book. You might also want to add a shared resource such as a meeting room or a piece of equipment, if these have been set up in Nexus. In this case, add them to the Resources section. You do not need to add yourself, as the meeting organiser is automatically included.

Once you have finished adding attendees, click on the Scheduling Assistant tab to view free/busy times.

Schedule a               meeting
Figure 31. Schedule a meeting

You will now see a list of suggested times, and information about how many attendees are available. These start from the day you have selected for the meeting, and go forward for a week. However, within a given day, the suggested times are listed in reverse order. If an attendee has a conflicting appointment, this will be noted next to the suggested time. You can choose a new time by clicking on it

You can also choose whether or not your attendees are automatically prompted to send a response, by checking or unchecking the box labelled Request a response to this invitation, on the Appointment tab.

Once you have finished, click Send at the top of the screen to send the invitations.

Responses from your invitees will appear in your inbox, unless the attendee chooses not to send a response. You can check what responses have been received by opening the meeting/event in your calendar. At the top of the screen you will see a banner telling you how many attendees have accepted, how many declined, and how many tentatively accepted.

If you need to make any changes to the meeting, you can do so and then click Send Update to inform the other attendees.

10.3. Creating a recurring event

If you have an event that occurs regularly, you can add the whole series at once, by using the recurrence options.

Meeting               Recurrence
Figure 32. Meeting Recurrence

To add or edit recurrence options, open the event by clicking on it in your calendar, and click the recurrence icon as shown in Figure 32, Meeting Recurrence.

Choose Recurrence               Options
Figure 33. Choose Recurrence Options

Use the buttons to select from a range of frequencies, and to set the date of the first occurrence, and if desired, the end date. Click Save when finished.

10.4. Responding to a meeting request

When you receive a meeting request, it appears in your inbox just like an email message.

Receive               Meeting Request
Figure 34. Receive Meeting Request

OWA will inform you if the meeting time conflicts with (or is adjacent to) another appointment in your Nexus calendar, as in the example above (Figure 34, Receive Meeting Request). In this case, you can click the link View the conflicting appointments to see more details.

At the top of the message are buttons allowing you to Accept, Tentatively Accept, or Decline the request. Before you click one of these, decide whether you want to Send the response now, Edit the response before sending, or Do not send a response. If you choose to send the response now, OWA will send an automated response which appears in the organiser's inbox, telling them whether you can attend. If you choose to edit the response, an email message will be created which you can add your own text to. Finally, if you choose not to send a response, the meeting organiser will still be able to tell whether you have accepted or not, by looking at the Tracking tab of the meeting in their calendar. However, they will not get a message in their inbox informing them of your decision.

When you respond, the meeting request message will be automatically moved to your deleted items folder. If you accept (even tentatively) the meeting request, the event will be saved in your calendar. If you want to change your response later, open the event by clicking on it, and you can send a new response.

11. Calendar sharing

11.1. View a shared calendar

Outlook Web Access also allows you to view calendars that others are sharing with you. To see a shared calendar, select the option Open a Shared Calendar (calendar view, left-hand navigation bar).

'Open a Shared Calendar' in Calendar view
Figure 35. 'Open a Shared Calendar' in Calendar view

The Manage other calendars window that pops up will initially be empty but once you have opened a calendar, that calendar will be listed under Other Calendar Name.

'Manage other calendars' window
Figure 36. 'Manage other calendars' window

To open a shared calendar, select it from the list under Other Calendar Name if it is listed. If it is not listed, click the Add button. Type in the username or real name of the person whose calendar you want to view, and click Open. You may have to select the right person from the list that pops up.

'Open a                 Shared Calendar'
Figure 37. 'Open a Shared Calendar'

Assuming you have the necessary rights for viewing the calendar, it will open in a new window. The name of the calendar will also be added your Other Calendar Name list to allow you to access it quickly next time you want it.

You can edit the label for the names listed in your Other Calendar Name view. Simply select the name you want to edit in the list and click on Rename. You can then choose a name that makes sense to you, for example 'James' instead of 'oucs1243'. You can also change the order in which the calendars are listed (click on the arrows) or remove a calendar from the list (click on the cross). Click on Save to save your changes.

11.2. Share your calendar

To share your own calendar, use the Manage Delegates option listed in your left-hand navigation bar in Calendar View (you can also find it if you open the Options page, select the Calendar heading and scroll down to the Messageware CalendarShare section).

Manage Delegates
Figure 38. Manage Delegates

Click on Manage Delegates. In the window that pops up, first select either Show users with calendar delegate rights or Show users with calendar folder rights. If you want to assign someone the right to act on your behalf (create, edit, accept items for your calendar), use the delegate rights options. Otherwise use the folder rights option.

Manage Delegates               window
Figure 39. Manage Delegates window

Once you have chosen one of the two rights options, click the Add button. You will be presented with a small Add User window. Type in the name of the person who will be sharing your calendar (real name or username, like oucs1234) and click on Open. If you are presented with a list of names, select the right person from the list. You are then taken back to the Manage Delegates window.

'Add User' window.
Figure 40. 'Add User' window.

You then need to set the permissions level for this person. Select the person from the list in your Manage Delegates window (1) and select the right level from the Permission Level drop-down list (2).

Manage Delegates window. Setting                 permissions
Figure 41. Manage Delegates window. Setting permissions

The permissions level list differs slightly between delegate rights and folder rights, with the latter offering a wider choice. Table 1 below outlines what permissions are needed to allow someone to perform certain tasks.

Table 1. Calendar access requirements for some common actions
Calendaring Action Shared Calendar Access Required
  Reviewer (read) Author (read, create, delete (only own items)) Editor (read, create, delete, modify)
Viewing the details of a calendar item x    
Updating a calendar item     x
Adding invitees to existing meeting request     x
Delete invitees from a meeting request     x
Creating an appointment   x  
Creating a new meeting request   x  
Create a reoccurring meeting request   x  
Delete a calendar item   x (only own item) x
Use the Tracking Option x    
Updating attendance on a shared calendar as a delegate     x

If you are setting the delegate rights you can set some additional options:

  • Send a summary message to this delegate
  • Delegate receives copies of meeting-related messages sent to me
  • Send meeting requests and responses only to my delegates, not to me
  • Delegate can see my private items

Note: If a calendar contains a 'Private Item' delegated users viewing via OWA Light will receive an error if accessing your calendar when the relevant item is 'Today'. Similarly an error message will be returned if that day is moved to when viewing one day at a time, or when the 'Private Item' is clicked. Suggested work-arounds are to ensure delegates have access to 'Private Items', or to simply mark blank appointments as busy instead of private.

Click OK to save your settings.

Private calendar events: Some clients do not fully support private items and your private items may be revealed to those you share your calendar with. Please see the "How private are my private calendar entries?" entry in the Nexus FAQ for more details.

12. Accessing a mailbox only account using a web browser

You need to use the Nexus email address of the account you want to access. In this example we are using a psychology email address e.g.

  • First, log in to OWA using your personal username and password.
  • In your web browser address bar type this account in the form of:
  • A language screen may appear. Select the appropriate language.
  • The screen refreshes and shows your project mailbox. You can now perform standard email activities in your project account mailbox.

13. Tasks

OWA Light provides very limited support for tasks. You can view your task list by clicking Click to view all folders in the left-hand pane, and choosing Tasks. This will give you a list of all tasks, but there is no indication of which tasks are completed, or when they are due to be finished. Better support for Tasks is available in the Full version of OWA, or by using other installed clients such as Outlook.

14. Login Problems

Login failure screen
Figure 42. Login failure screen

If you type an incorrect username or password you will be returned to the login screen and you will see the message You could not be logged on to Oxford Nexus. Make sure that your user name and password are correct, and then try again.

Check your username and carefully retype your password.

If you have forgotten your password, go to to reset it.


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Written by IT Services. Latest revision 18 October 2017