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Group Email Options

If you want to email a group of people without having to type in their email addresses every time, what's the best way to do it?  You have four options:

  • Google Group -  a Google Group has an email address (e.g. mydepartment-all@brown.edu).  Emails sent to the address will be delivered to group members at their own email addresses.  It is also an easier way to assign permissions within Google, such as the ability to view a Google Calendar or Document, to a large group of people.  There is no inbox for a Google Group, but Groups can be set up to archive messages, which can be read on the webpage dedicated to the Group (similarly to a Listserv).

  • Shared Mailbox - a shared mailbox has an email address (e.g. mydepartment@brown.edu).  Emails sent to the address will be delivered to the shared mailbox.  People who have been given access to the shared mailbox will have to remember to check the mailbox for new mail - see these instructions for details.

  • Contact Group - a contact group is created within your contacts and only visible by you (or if it's in a shared mailbox, whoever has access to the mailbox).  A contact group does  NOT have a unique email address that cannot be emailed by others.  It's a very lightweight, quick solution but has limitations.  Instructions for creating a contact group.

  • Listserv - Listservs allow the creation of and subscription to email lists. These lists are configurable by the list owners and are used to distribute mail among subscribers.  They have a @listserv.brown.edu address.

Google Group vs. Shared Mailbox Comparison Chart

FunctionalityGoogle Shared MailboxGoogle Group
Number of people who can access mail25Unlimited
Email deliveryEmail is delivered to a single mailboxEmail delivery is flexible, similar to a Listserv:
-Email can be sprayed
-Email can be consolidated into a digest or summary
-Email can be made viewable on the Group’s webpage
Client setupShared mailbox can be used with mail clients (Outlook, etc.) in addition to web access.  You might want to use this for specialized functions, such a mail mergesGroup can not be directly accessed via a mail client
Automated report deliveryYesYes
Individuals can "send as" the group address
Yes, but emails will show that they were sent "on behalf of" the individual.  Sending anonymously is possible, but requires advanced configuration, and you should CC or BCC the shared mailbox address because your sent emails will not appear in the shared account's sent mail
Yes, but only when replying from the group page, and no attachments can be sent
Membership controlsChanges to membership are managed by the Computing Accounts and Passwords officeGroup managers can add and delete members from groups
PermissionsNot applicableGroups can be given access to documents, calendars, and other Google Apps features, and you can invite a group to a meeting using Google calendar
LabelsYes, and others accessing the mailbox will see your labels
You can label mail from a Google Group once it is in your Inbox, but others will not see your labels

Requesting Google Groups & Shared Mailboxes

To request a non-course Google Group, use the “Fill Out Online Access Forms” link at:
http://brown.edu/cis/support/cap/forms/index.php
To request a Google Group for a course, use the Academic Services Gateway.

To request a Google Shared Mailbox, fill out an electronic access request form at http://brown.edu/cis/support/cap/forms/

More Information


Need more info about Google Groups? http://groups.google.com/intl/en/googlegroups/tour3/index.html#

Want to learn more about Google Shared Mailboxes?
https://sites.google.com/a/brown.edu/google-migration-project-site/how-to/accessing-shared-mailboxes