Managing Email & Distribution Groups
Types of Groups
There are different types of email groups, each with their own way of managing them. The different types of groups you may encounter are:
M365 Group – These are the most common types of groups. These can only be managed through Outlook in a browser.
Distribution Group – Also commonly known as a Distribution List. These were the most common type of group before SOM migrated to Office 365. Any group that has existed before 2017 is most likely a Distribution Group. These can only be managed through the Outlook desktop client.
Mail-enabled Security Group – Security groups grant access to file shares, applications, and other resources. These must be managed by IT support.
Contact Group – These are groups that were created by you within Outlook. These can be seen and used only by you, and can be edited in the Outlook desktop client or in Outlook in a browser.
How To Determine Your Group's Type
There is no simple way to determine a group's type. Because different groups are managed different ways, we can use a process of elimination. Start with an M365 Group.
You can easily see which M365 Groups you are an owner or member of in Outlook in a browser. This method ONLY works for M365 Groups. This will not display any other types of groups.
Open Outlook in a browser: https://outlook.office.com/
Click on the People icon on the left.
Now navigate to Groups > Owner. This will list all M365 Groups you are an owner of. Select the group you’d like to edit.
You’ll see an Edit option here, which will let you change the name, email address, and other options. Below that, you’ll see Manage group members.
Now you have the ability to change an owner to a member, or vice versa (blue circle), remove a member from the group (green circle), or add members (red circle).
Clicking Add members will bring you here, where you can search for users and add multiple people at a time.
Perhaps you’re the member of a group, and you’d like to know who the owner is so that they can invite someone. Navigate to Member on the left pane to see all M365 Groups you’re a member of. Select the group, go to Members, and the owners will be indicated.
If you’re newly in charge of a group that you are not an owner of, the existing owner can make you an owner as shown above. If the owner is no longer with the organization, contact the SOM Helpdesk so that you can be added.
You’ll notice that if we attempt to edit the same group in the Outlook desktop client – even though it gives us the option to add members – it results in an error. Unfortunately, the only way to know if a group is an M365 Group is to see if it is listed under Groups in Outlook in a browser.
Distribution Group – A Distribution Group can be edited in either Outlook or Outlook in a browser. Let's look at Outlook in a browser first, as it's the easiest method.
Here's a link to go directly to the page:
And here's how to get to it manually. Open up Outlook in a browser:
Now click on the gear icon in the upper left corner, and go to View all Outlook settings at the bottom.
Click on General on the left, then Distribution groups. You'll see a list of all groups you're a member of, and all groups you're an owner of. Select a group you're an owner of and click the pencil icon.
There are a number of options you can change here, such as the name of the group, who can send messages to the group, and if anyone should approve those message. You're likely looking for membership, which will allow you to add and remove users. Click Save when done.
You can also edit distribution groups in Outlook. Open the Address Book > search for your Distribution Group
Double click on your Distribution Group > Modify Members > Add (or Remove).
You can not add or remove an owner of a Distribution Group. This must be done by the SOM Helpdesk.
Contact Group – This is a group that you’ve created. You’ll find these listed in your contacts. You’ll also find these in the Address Book, but only if you’ve selected the Contacts Address Book. No one other than you can see or use this type of group.
Manage this type of group by opening it from your Contacts (or from the Address Book) and selecting Add Members.
If you’re using Outlook in a browser, you’ll this this type of group under Your contact lists, as shown here.