Well, that’s a fun new failure mode


When you add a person to (or remove from) a meeting in Outlook, but make no other changes, sometimes it automatically sends the update to all attendees, and sometimes it puts up a little dialog box asking whether you want to send the update to all attendees or just the new people.
send to all attendees
After years of experimenting, I have given up trying to predict whether or not it will give you that option.

I have been able to determine that it does not correlate with:

  • whether you’ve added or removed people
  • how many people you’ve added/removed
  • whether you have only added or only removed or done both
  • whether you have made any other changes to the meeting while adding/removing people
  • whether it is a meeting series or a single meeting
  • if a meeting series, whether you are changing the whole series or an individual occurrence
  • the number of occurrences in a meeting series
  • the total number of people invited to a meeting (at least not in the range 1-~160)
  • whether the meeting or meeting series is in the future or also extends into the past
  • whether there are attachments to the meeting invite
  • whether it involves solely people within our organization/Exchange server, or also includes external invitees
  • whether the recipients are using Outlook or some other mail system
  • whether the invite is sent to individuals or shared/organizational mailboxes
  • whether a distribution list (that’s Exchange-speak for an email list/address list/contact list) is used
  • if a distribution list is used, whether it is expanded prior to sending
  • whether the meeting invite originates from my primary/personal calendar or a shared or delegated calendar
  • whether the person making the changes is the same person who originally created the meeting
I’m sure there’s some other variable I’ve forgotten to check, but at that point, I gave up. If it doesn’t correlate with any of those factors—or correlates with all of them in such a complex way that I’ve not identified the particular combination(s) out of nearly 100,000 that do the trick—it may as well be random.

A New Problem

But until today, I at least knew that if I saw
send to all attendees
and selected the first option, it would only go to a couple people, instead of spamming over a hundred mailboxes.

Today, I added a person to a standing meeting. Seven meetings, actually. Every one of them gave me the little dialog box. Every one of them I made sure I was sending the update “only to added or deleted attendees”.

Every single one of them sent an invite to every single attendee. Meaning some delegates had several dozen completely extraneous meeting invites/updates to wade through.

Tell me, again, why does anyone use Outlook/Exchange?


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