A key feature to utilize as a Google Workspace administrator is Google Groups. This guide provides an overview of Groups for G Suite/Google Workspace. Starting with an overview of Admin-created Groups, you’ll learn about the Groups feature set and how to create Groups in the Admin Console. We’ll highlight a tool you can use to provision users/Groups via Active Directory if preferred. Then, you’ll learn about how to enable the separate Groups for Business service, allowing your employees to create their own Groups to improve their use of their Gmail accounts. Finally, the guide concludes with an to alternative using Google Groups called Shared Inboxes.
Admin Groups—We’ll use the term “Admin Groups” through this guide to refer to Groups that are created and managed by Google Workspace Admins. Google admins can create Groups for your entire organization using the Groups Control in the Google Admin console.
Groups for Business—A separate service that allows your employees to create and manage Groups without access to the Admin Console. Groups for Business will also be used to adjust settings for your Admin-created Groups.
Shared Inboxes—A Shared Inbox is a user account that has been configured to be shared by team members. For example, you may want firstname.lastname@example.org to have its own separate inbox rather than functioning as a distribution list. It occupies a G Suite/Google Workspace license.
Organizational Units (OUs)—Accessed within the User Management tab, Organizational Units exist to give different settings to a group of users or devices within your company. OUs exist solely for the purpose of applying admin settings (eg: restricting access to Google Drive for a subset of users), and in no way function as group email or distribution list. Organizational Units do not have a team email address and are simply an administrative aspect of User Management. OUs are not used for distribution lists or employee collaboration.
Create Admin Groups
How to Create a Google Workspace Admin Group (Distribution List)
From the Google Workspace/G Suite Admin Console, select the Groups tile. Often, Admin Groups are hidden in the “More Controls” section at the bottom of the Admin console. When you create a group, you need to choose the Access Level. Start with “team,” and you can allow anyone to email the group by checking the relevant box. Otherwise, people outside of your organization will not be able to send emails to that address.
Create Aliases and Adjust Google Group Settings
After you create a group, click the group name to manage users, adjust settings, and add aliases.
Manage Users—You can directly add Group members from this panel. Keep in mind, you can also have external parties or people with @gmail.com accounts in your Admin Group.
Access Settings—If you click to adjust Group settings, you will be taken to the Groups for Business service.
Aliases—Use this tab to set up multiple aliases. Any email sent to an alias will be received by members of the Google Group. For instance…
Google Group Name: email@example.com
Aliases: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc.
Create Groups with Google Cloud Directory Sync
If you want to manage users/groups with Active Directory (AD), you can use this free tool to sync data to your Google Workspace/G Suite account. This is a one-way sync and will push all users/groups in AD to Google Workspace/G Suite. You can now manage users through AD rather than the Google Admin panel. Our team provides expert guidance for using Active Directory, so please reach out about this using the form at the bottom of the page. Here’s the tool.
Watchpoints – External Membership and Public Settings
External Membership—You have the ability to enable external members to be invited or request to join a Group. Be cautious of this feature and ensure that only trusted external users are permitted to join your organization’s Groups.
How do Google Groups look for employees?
Employees will receive emails sent to a Google Group (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org) directly in their Gmail inbox. You can check the “to” field to see if the email was sent to the individual or a group to which the individual belongs.
Tip: Create Filters to automatically apply labels to Group emails. Advise your staff to create Filters as well.
How to respond from a Google Group?
If your employees want to respond on behalf of a group (such as email@example.com), you’ll need to configure “send as” permissions. Within the Gmail interface, select the gear icon, and then Settings. Select Accounts > Add your Google Group.
Introducing Google Groups for Business
You’ll notice that all access settings for Admin Groups take you to the Groups for Business Console. Groups for Business is actually a separate service with many features. You can allow users to create their own Groups and manage organization-wide settings through Groups for Business. See Groups for Business under the Admin Console > Apps > Apps > Groups for Business.
Set your organization’s Google Groups policy
Define how people will use Google Groups for Business at your organization. You may want to consider restricting the creation of new Groups to Admins only.
Employee access to Groups for Business
Employees can navigate to the Groups for Business service through the Apps Icon in the top right hand corner of their account. If you allow people to create their own Groups, users will see a red button here.
Adjust Google Group settings
From the Groups for Business Service, you can configure a variety of settings for your group, including members, messages, settings, permissions, roles, and information.
How do Shared Inboxes work in Google Workspace (G Suite)?
In some cases, you may want to configure a Shared Inbox as opposed to a Google Group. A “Shared Inbox” is essentially a user account that has been delegated to core team members. With a Shared Inbox, employees will not receive group email in their primary Gmail inbox like they would when using Google Groups.
You first must enable the ability to delegate inboxes through the admin console: Apps > Gmail > User Settings > Mail Delegation
Once you’ve created the Shared Inbox under “Users,” you need to log into the the account and configure mail delegation. Click Gmail Settings > Accounts > Grant Access to your account.
Once this is complete, the delegated user will always be logged into the Shared Inbox. Configuring mail delegation is a much better alternative to a shared password.
- How to Get Started with Google Workspace for Business
- About Google Groups
- Google Groups Video Overview
- Top 5 Enterprise Security Features for Google Admins
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