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Get Started with Google Groups

Brand new to Google Groups? Use this guide to learn about using, joining, creating, and sharing content with groups.

What is Google Groups?

Google Groups is a feature of Google Apps that makes it easy to communicate and collaborate with groups of people—such as project teams, departments, office locations, and special-interest groups. A group is like a mailing list: It contains the email addresses of its members, but also has its own address. Using just the one email address for the group, you can:

  • Send email to group members
  • Invite group members to meetings
  • Share your content with group members, including Google documents, sites, and calendars

But that's not all! Google Groups also includes these useful features: 

  • My Groups—Lists all the groups you belong to. Here's where you can manage your own group memberships, without having to make requests to OIT.
  • Groups directory—Lists all the groups for UAH. Use the directory to view information about groups, including group members. Here is where you can also join new groups, without the assistance of OIT.
  •  Discussion archives (forums)—Records all the communications between group members. Read past messages and even post and reply to group messages. 

But best of all, you can now apply to manage your own groups, making it easier than ever to communicate, collaborate, and manage access to your content. 

About Google Groups and Google Contacts

Google groups vs. contact groups: You might be wondering how Google groups differ from the contact groups you can create in your My Contacts list in Google Contacts (click Contacts in Gmail). The primary difference is that a Google group has its own email address, so it can be shared in our Groups directory and others can send messages to it. Your contact groups, on the other hand, are for your personal use, to make it easy to add a list of addresses to your email messages and meeting invitations. They don't have their own email address, so no one else can send messages to them.

Google groups and shared corporate contacts: Google groups aren't included in the contacts you access in Google Contacts. Instead, you'll find them all in our Groups directory. However, after you send a message to a group, it appears in your All Contacts list in Google Contacts.

Google groups and "auto-complete": After you send a message to a group, it's automatically added to your All Contacts list in Google Contacts. Now, whenever you want to send another message to the group, invite the group to a meeting, or share a document with the group, just start typing its address and it will be completed automatically.

Access your "My Groups" page

All the groups that you belong to are listed on your personal "My groups" page. To access your page, just click the Google Apps link (nine small squares) at the top of your Google mail or other Google service window:

Click on the left column to view "My groups" page, or click "My groups" on the Home page.


 Tip: You can go to your page directly, by entering this URL in your browser:

Find groups in the Groups directory

All of the groups in the domain are listed in the UAH Groups directory. Here, you'll find information about groups, view a group's members list, read messages on the group's discussion archive, and even subscribe to groups that are open to new members. 

To see a list of all groups in the directory:

 On your Home page, click Browse all.

To find a group by text in its name, address, or description:

In the search box at the top of the page, type some text (whole words only) in the field and click the search button. Use the prompts to help narrow your search. For example:

To open a group's page in the Groups directory:
Click the group's name.

Manage your group memberships

Want to get a summary of messages sent to a group once a day instead or receiving each message separately? Or perhaps you'd prefer to just read messages on the group's discussion archive (forum page) instead of receiving messages in your Inbox. It's easy to change your group preferences, and even to unsubscribe from a group altogether.

1. Go to your "My groups" page and click Edit memberships:

You'll see the "Manage memberships" page, showing all the groups you're a member of.

2. Under Subscription type, in the drop-down list for a group, choose a subscription option:
  • No Email: You won't receive messages to the group in your Inbox. You can visit the group's discussion archive to read messages. 
  • Abridged Email: Once a day, you'll get a summary of new messages.
  • Digest Email: Once a day, you'll get full email messages bundled into a single message.
  • All Email: You'll receive each message sent to the group separately.
3. Your settings will automatically save.

4. You can also manage your membership for each group by clicking "Manage membership."
5. Unsubscribe by clicking Leave group.

6. Click Save to update settings.

View a group's membership list

From time to time, you'll probably need to check who belongs to a group: 

1. Open the group's page in the Groups directory.

2. On the group's page, click Members at the upper right.

The members list appears. For example:

Note: Some groups keep their members list private, so you can't view members for all groups.

Subscribe to a group

You can subscribe any group in our Groups directory that's open to new members. Some groups let you subscribe directly, while others might require you to send a request. 

1. Open the group's page in the Groups directory.

2. On the group's page, click Apply for membership.

3. Choose how you want to receive messages sent to the group, the email you want to use for the group, and the nickname you want members to see.

4. Click Apply to this group


Note: Some groups allow membership by invitation only. In these cases, you must put in a request to the owner to get added to the group. For example:

View a group's discussion archive

When someone sends a message to a group, it's automatically saved in the group's discussion archive. If you have the appropriate access permissions for the group, you can view a group's archive to find past messages. Or, you can post and reply to messages directly on the archive. 

To view a group's archive, just open the group's page in the Groups directory. The group's "Discussions" page appears as the group's homepage. For example:

If you navigate to another page for the group, you can get back to the archive by clicking the arrow button.     

Note: A group's owner can turn off archiving, so some groups may not have an archive.

Find messages in group archives

Need to find a specific message sent to a group quickly? Just search for it!

At the top of your "My groups" page or the Groups directory, type your search text in the field and click Search Groups (or Search in the Groups directory). You can search for any text in the message's subject or body (whole words only), or search for the sender's email address. To narrow your search further, click Advanced Groups Search:

Send email to a group

To send an email message to a group, simply enter the group's address as a recipient. The first time you send a message to a group, you'll need to type the group's complete address. After that, you can just start typing it, and it will auto-complete.

Note that each member of the list sees only the group's address in the message you send—they can't see the other members' names or addresses.

Send a calendar invitation to a group

To send a calendar invitation to a group, simply enter the group's address in the Guests field. If you've already sent at least one email message to the group, you can just start typing the address and it will auto-complete.

After saving or sending an invitation to a group, you'll see the list of members in the invitation on your calendar, if you have the appropriate privileges to view the group's members list. The members appear as if you added them separately, and the group address itself no longer appears—for example:

Remember that anyone who receives the invitation can see the expanded members list.

Tip: If you want to remove members from the invitation before sending it, simply save the invitation first. Edit the expanded members list, and then send the invitation.

Share content with a group

With Google Groups, you can easily share your Google documents, sites, and calendars with multiple people. As you add new members to your groups, they'll automatically gain access to content you previously shared with that group. 

For example, if you create a group with the address "" and add five members, you can instantly share a Google document with them, just by sharing the document with the group's address:

If you later add another member, that member automatically inherits permission to access the document or any other content you shared with the group. Similarly, if you remove a member from a group, that individual no longer has access to any content you shared with the group.