Introduction to IRM for email messages

You can restrict permission to content in email messages in Microsoft Outlook with Information Rights Management (IRM), just as you can restrict permission to other Microsoft Office files.

In this article


What is IRM?

Information Rights Management (IRM) allows you to specify access permissions to email messages. IRM helps prevent sensitive information from being read, printed, forwarded, or copied by unauthorized people. After permission for a message is restricted by using IRM, the access and usage restrictions are enforced regardless of where the message goes, because the permissions to access an email message are stored in the message file itself.

IRM helps you restrict the transmission of personal or private information. IRM also helps organizations enforce corporate policy governing the control and dissemination of confidential or proprietary information, both within the organization and with customers and partners.

 Note    IRM can’t prevent content from being erased, stolen, corrupted, or captured and transmitted by malicious programs or computer viruses. It also can’t prevent restricted content from being hand-copied or retyped, or prevent a digital photograph or screen capture being taken of the restricted content.

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Configure your computer to use IRM

If you use a computer that is running Windows 7 or Windows Vista, the Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) Client is already installed. If you use a computer that is running Windows XP, the Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) Client Service Pack 2 (SP2) or a later version must be installed on your computer, either by you or by the RMS administrator for your organization.

The RMS administrator can configure company-specific IRM policies that define who can access information and what level of editing is permitted for an email message.

Install the Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) Client

  1. In Windows XP, click the Start button, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Add or Remove Programs, and then click Add or Remove Programs.
  3. Click Add New Programs.
  4. From the list of programs, click Windows Rights Management Services Client, and then click Add.

 Note    In Classic view, double-click Add or Remove Programs, and then in the left pane, click Add New Programs. From the list of programs, click Windows Rights Management Services Client, and then click Add.

Or, when you first try to open files that are rights-managed by IRM, Microsoft Office prompts you to download the Windows Rights Management Services Client if you are running a computer without that software. For more information about the Windows Rights Management Services Client or to download it, visit the Windows Rights Management Services page.

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Download permissions

The first time that you try to open an email message that uses restricted permission, you are then connected to a licensing server. If the licensing server verifies your credentials, it issues a use license, which defines the level of access that you have to a file. This process is required for each file that uses restricted permission. In other words, content with restricted permission can’t be opened if the licensing server hasn’t issued you a use license for that content.

Downloading permissions requires that Microsoft Office send your credentials (which includes your email address) and information about your permission rights to the licensing server. Information that is contained in the message isn’t sent to the licensing server. For more information, read the Privacy Statement.

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View messages when IRM isn’t available

If you must read or open content with restricted permission but Microsoft Office 2010 isn’t available on the computer that you are using, you can use a web browser. If you use Outlook Web Access (OWA), you can view restricted messages on any browser.

Or you can view the messages in Windows Internet Explorer if you download the Rights Management Add-on for Internet Explorer. However, this doesn’t enable you to reply to, forward, copy, or print the messages. When using the Rights Management Add-on to view messages, attachments that might were sent with the message can’t be viewed.

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File types covered by IRM policies when they are attached to messages

When the following file types are attached to a rights-managed message in Outlook, they are automatically rights-managed also.

 Note    When you attach a message (.msg) file to a rights-managed message, the attached message isn’t rights managed. IRM doesn’t apply to .msg file types.

Word documents

File type Extension
Document .doc
Document .docx
Macro-enabled document .docm
Template .dot
Template .dotx
Macro-enabled template .dotm

Excel documents

File type Extension
Workbook .xls
Workbook .xlsx
Macro-enabled workbook .xlsm
Template .xlt
Template .xltx
Macro-enabled template .xltm
Non-XML binary workbook .xlsb
Macro-enabled add-in .xla
Macro-enabled add-in .xlam

PowerPoint documents

File type Extension
Presentation .ppt
Presentation .pptx
Macro-enabled presentation .pptm
Template .pot
Template .potx
Macro-enabled template .potm
Show .pps
Show .ppsx
Macro-enabled show .ppsm
Office theme .thmx

InfoPath files

File type Extension
Dynamic Form/Template .xsn

XPS documents

File type Extension
XML Paper Specification .xps

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Applies to:
Outlook 2010