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I have just set up my own OS X machine to access my work mail (using Exchange).

To my understanding there are several restrictions requested by Exchange that clients needs to obey. For instance, when using an iPhone the user configured lock time is overridden with what Exchange requires. It may also be that using too many attempts to unlock the phone may cause it to erase itself (at least that is what Exchange asks for).

What restrictions are obeyed by OS X? Will my machine require password when opening the lid? Will it erase itself if I mistype my password three times?

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Outlook cannot enforce computer locking, that would require your Mac to be joined to the (Active Directory) domain and only AD logins permitted. There may be Outlook specific settings that are specified but there is no way to enforce computer locking (on a Mac) just by setting up an Exchange account in Outlook. Setting it up in Mail.app, well there is very little that can be done other than forcing a password change.

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