Introduction to using IRM for e-mail messages

This article describes how you can restrict permission to e-mail messages in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 by using Information Rights Management (IRM), which is available in the 2007 Microsoft Office system. For information about how you can restrict permission to content in documents, workbooks, and presentations, see Restrict permission to confidential information in Office files.

In this article


The purpose of IRM and its limitations

Information Rights Management (IRM) allows individuals to specify access permissions to e-mail messages. By using IRM, it helps prevent sensitive information from being printed, forwarded, or copied by unauthorized people. After permission for a message has been restricted by using IRM, the access and usage restrictions are enforced no matter where the information is, because the permissions to access an e-mail message are stored in the message file itself.

IRM helps individuals enforce their personal preferences concerning the transmission of personal or private information. IRM also helps organizations enforce corporate policy governing the control and dissemination of confidential or proprietary information.

IRM helps to do the following:

  • Prevent an authorized recipient of restricted content from forwarding, copying, modifying, printing, faxing, or cutting and pasting the content for unauthorized use
  • Prevent restricted content from being copied by using the Print Screen feature in Microsoft Windows
  • Restrict content wherever it is sent
  • Provide the same level of restriction to e-mail attachments, as long as the attachments are files created by using other Microsoft Office programs, such as Microsoft Office Word 2007, Microsoft Office Excel 2007, or Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007
  • Support file expiration so that content in documents and e-mail messages can no longer be viewed after a specified period of time
  • Enforce corporate policies that govern the use and dissemination of content in the company

IRM can't prevent the following:

  • Content from being erased, stolen, or captured and transmitted by malicious programs such as Trojan horses, keystroke loggers, and certain types of spyware
  • Content from being lost or corrupted because of the actions of computer viruses
  • Restricted content from being hand-copied or retyped from a display on a recipient's screen
  • A recipient from taking a digital photograph of the restricted content displayed on a screen
  • Restricted content from being copied by using third-party screen-capture programs

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Configure your computer to use IRM

If you use a computer that is running Windows Vista, the Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) Client is already installed. If you use a computer that is running Microsoft Windows XP, the Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) Client Service Pack 1 (SP1) must be installed on your computer either by you or your RMS administrator.

The RMS administrator can configure company-specific IRM policies that define who can access information and what level of editing is permitted for an e-mail message. For example, a company administrator might define a rights template called "Company Confidential," which specifies that an e-mail message that uses that policy can be opened only by users inside the company domain.

Install the Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) Client

 Note   If you use a computer that is running Windows Vista, the Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) Client is already installed.

  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.

Alternatively, when you first try to open files that have been rights-managed by using IRM, the 2007 Office release 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, visit the Windows Rights Management Services Web site.

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Download permissions

The first time that you try to open an e-mail message that uses restricted permission, you must connect to a licensing server to verify your credentials and to download a use license. The use license 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 cannot be opened without a use license. Downloading permissions requires that Microsoft Office send your credentials (which includes your e-mail address) and information about your permission rights to the licensing server. Information that is contained in the e-mail message is not sent to the licensing server. For more information, read the Privacy Statement.

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Viewing messages without IRM available

If you need to read or open content with restricted permission but the 2007 Office release is not available on the computer that you are using, you can download the Rights Management Add-on for Internet Explorer, which enables you to view the messages in Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer. With this add-on, recipients can only view messages. Recipients cannot reply to, forward, copy, or print the messages.

 Note   When using the Rights Management Add-on to view messages, attachments that might have been sent with the message cannot be viewed.

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File types covered by IRM policies when attached to messages

When the following file types are attached to a rights-managed e-mail message in Office Outlook 2007, they are automatically rights managed as well.

 Note   When you attach a message (.msg) file to a rights-managed e-mail message, the attached message is not rights managed. IRM does not rights manage .msg file types.

Word files

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

Excel files

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 files

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

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Applies to:
Outlook 2007