Microsoft 365 - Getting Started with Groups

Groups in Microsoft 365 let you choose a set of people that you wish to collaborate with and easily set up a collection of resources for those people to share. You don't have to worry about manually assigning permissions to all those resources because adding members to the group automatically gives them the permissions they need to the tools your group provides. Learn more.

When you subscribe to a group, all the email messages and meeting invitations are sent directly to your inbox. But they're also stored in your group folder. So don't worry about accidentally deleting something or creating a rule to move mail from your inbox to a private folder. Delete it from your inbox after reading it and know there's still a copy safely stored in your searchable group folder; in fact, all the messages since the group began are stored in the group folder. Even if you weren't a member at the beginning, you'll get to see the full history once you join.


  • As of 6/10/2019, Groups created via Outlook on the web, Outlook desktop, Outlook mobile, SharePoint, Microsoft Stream, and Microsoft Teams are now created Private by Default. See "Public versus private groups" section below for feature comparison.

  • By default, when a Microsoft Group is created, the Group and its members are visible within Global Address List (GAL). This means that anyone within UW-Madison's implementation of Microsoft 365 will be able to search for and see the members of any Group. To manage this feature, see Microsoft 365 - Make a Group Hidden or Unhidden within Global Address List (GAL) or make Members Hidden from non-members.

  • All groups are assigned an email address which follows the format: By default, anyone with a UW-Madison Microsoft 365 account can send a message/email to the group - this can be managed within the settings of the group.

  • By default, when new Microsoft 365 Groups are created in Outlook, the default subscription option will be set to receive all group emails in the inbox. Group owners and members can change this setting at any time.

  • If you are a member of a Group (which is enabled for mail delivery to every member of the group) and send a message to the group, you will not receive this message into your mailbox. It will only be visible in your "Sent Items" folder. This is expected behavior. To manage this behavior, follow steps outlined in Receive a copy of email you send to a group section below.

  • When a new Team is created via Teams client and not associated with an existing Group (one which does not have a Team assigned to it), the process will create a Group for this team but the Group will be hidden to all Outlook clients. In addition, other Group features will not be created - Mail, Calendar, Groups, and Files. If the Team was not connected to a Group during the creation process, there is no data preservation needed from the Team, and you intend to use the other Group features, you should delete this Team and start the creation process by creating a Group via Groups app and then creating a Team and assigning it to the Group you just created. If you have data that needs to be preserved within the created Team, please contact the DoIT Help Desk.

General Information:

Public versus Private Groups:


A public group is open to everyone. If you just want to see what the group is doing, all the content and conversations are easy to view. But if the group interests you, you can join it and become a member. In most cases, a public group is your preferred alternative.


A private group is exclusive and only open to its members. The content and conversations are secure and not viewable by everyone. Choose a private group when you are concerned about security and privacy, such as trade secrets or confidential information. Although anyone can see the name of the private group, information is also security-trimmed so it is not accessible from search, links, or in other ways. Joining a private group requires approval from a group administrator.


    • By default, when a Microsoft Group is created, the Group and its members are visible within Global Address List (GAL). This means that anyone within UW-Madison's implementation of Microsoft 365 will be able to search for and see the members of any Group. To manage this feature, see Microsoft 365 - Make a Group Hidden or Visible within Global Address List (GAL) or make Members Hidden from non-members.

    • Before you can join a group, you need to find it. Fortunately, groups are open and discover-able by default. Both public and private groups have a group profile displayed in a card that includes the name, description, photo, alias, membership, and so on. If this group information is sensitive, you should look at other options instead of using a group.

    • Although you cannot participate in a private group that you are not a member of, by default, anyone with a UW-Madison Microsoft 365 account can send a message/email to a private/public Group.

    • You have the ability to change a public group into a private group, or a private group into a public group.

Browse the Directory for Existing Groups:

There are times when you would like to browse/search for an existing group - use the instructions below:

    1. Open Outlook on the web.

    2. In the navigation pane, under Groups, select Discover. (If you don't see Discover, click More at the bottom of your groups list. Once all of your groups are displayed you should see the Discover link.)

Join an Existing Group:

There are times when you would like to join an existing group or looking for more information on the purpose of the group. Follow steps to request to join a group. To find out the use of the group, contact the group owner - by searching for the group and viewing the group members. Important: If the group/members are hidden in the Global Address List, contact the help desk to make this request.

Follow or Unfollow a Group:

When you follow a group in Outlook, all group conversations and calendar events will be sent to both the group mailbox and your personal inbox. This is particularly helpful when you belong to multiple groups and want to stay on top of the conversations from one location.

Important: By default, if you are a member of the group and send a message to the group, you won't receive the messages in your inbox. If you want to receive the message into your inbox, please make sure to modify your Group settings.

Learn how to follow or unfollow a group.

 Advertise your Group:

As an owner of a group, you can advertise (email, flyers, word of mouth, etc.) the group by providing the url of the group. The format of the url should be in the form of:

Address Of Group = email address of the group (

Managing Your Group

Create a Group:

Group Name - Official campus group naming convention:

Naming convention: {Org}-{Dept}-{specific use case]
Example group name: DoIT PCS Project XYZ
Email address: (if available)

Important: If there is a conflict with the address of the group, you will have the ability to modify the address when creating the group.

It is recommended that you use Outlook on the web to create a group. Learn more.

View and manage your Group:

You can use Outlook on the web to view and manage groups you are a member or owner of.

Managing and interacting with a Group:

Groups can be created and managed by any fully licensed Microsoft 365 account (faculty/staff/student). It is recommended that you use Outlook on the web to create your Group.

Important: It is recommended that you wait at least 60 minutes after creating, managing members, or deleting a group so that the changes are synced within Microsoft 365.

Manage/view Group Settings/Parameters.

For more information about how to perform certain actions, such as accessing the group mailbox (see emails), joining a group, scheduling a meeting on the group calendar, managing group members, limits for groups, etc, review the following document: Learn about Microsoft 365 groups.

Managing members:

As an owner of a group, you can manage members of the group. Note: It may take up to 24 hours for a member to be able to access the Teams application for a Group.


    • If the Microsoft 365 account you are attempting to add is hidden in the GAL (Global Address List), it cannot be added through the Group/Teams client. You will need to use the administration site to add this member.

    • Guest access in Microsoft 365 Groups lets you and your team collaborate with people from outside your organization by granting them access to group conversations, files, calendar invitations, and the group notebook. Access can be granted to a guest - for example, a partner, vendor, supplier, or consultant - by any group owner. Learn more.

    • You can only add individual email addresses as guests. You cannot add lists or groups from external systems.

    • Email accounts of Guest members need to support TLS encryption in order to receive mail sent to the group. Group mail sent to domains that do not support TLS will not be delivered.

    • Nesting groups is not supported. If you add another Microsoft 365 group as a member, the membership is expanded and the members of the group you were adding will be added individually and any changes to the nested group will not be reflected in the group they were added to.

    • Due to Microsoft's management of members, Manifest cannot be used to manage the members of a Group/Team.

    • Service accounts can be assigned as members and owners of a Microsoft 365 Group. Please see "Can you add a service account as an owner to a Group?" under the FAQ expandable menu for more information on how to use a service account as a Group owner.

Folders and Rules

Group owners now have the ability to create and delete folders and rules. Group members need permission before they can use these functions. Managing folders and rules can only be performed via Outlook on the web client. This feature is not yet available for Outlook desktop clients.

With rules, users can automate the organization of incoming Groups emails. Rules can be accessed/managed via the group settings page.

Allowing emails from outside the organization:

You can set up your group to allow external senders to email your group. See below to learn how.

    1. Select "Settings" within your Microsoft 365 group
      ellipses action
    2. Select "Edit group"
      click three dots and select settings from drop down menu

    3. Select the "Let people outside the organization email the group" setting
      click edit group located at bottom screen
    4. Select "Save"

Delete a Group

Important: If it has been more than 30 days since the Group was deleted, the Microsoft 365 team will not be able to restore it - Microsoft automatically expunges all Group/Teams data after it has been more than 30 days of deletion. Please see FAQ for "What happens if a Group is deleted?"

If the Group was deleted within the last 30 days, follow these steps to restore it:

    1. As the owner who deleted the Group, log into Outlook on the web.

    2. Go to People from within Outlook screen.

    3. Expand the "Groups" section.

    4. Click Deleted folder.

    5. Find the Group in question and click the Restore button.

Note: It may take a few minutes for the Group and all its related data to be restored and available within all clients. At this time, Shifts data/schedule is not restored - Microsoft is aware of this and is working on a solution.

Advanced Administration

The Advanced Administration of a Microsoft 365 Group allows you to do the following:

  • Add an Alias/Alternate Address to a M365 Group
  • Manage Sending To/Send As/Send on Behalf of Permissions

For more information please see: Microsoft 365 - Manage/view Group Settings/Parameters


What clients/devices can I use to interact with Groups?

You can interact with a group using many different clients/devices:

Compare Outlook Groups on all platforms

What's the difference between an Microsoft 365 group and a distribution list?

How do you know if a Microsoft 365 account is a group?

All accounts that have this format are group accounts.

If the account is searchable in the Global Address List (GAL), you will be able to find additional details on the account. You can search for the account using the search feature via the 'People' screen within Outlook on the web. If the account cannot be searched for, then you must contact the DoIT Help Desk for further assistance.

Does a group have a mailbox quota limit?

Yes. Each Microsoft 365 group comes equipped with a dedicated mailbox that stores the emails received on the group. The group mailbox is also used by applications like SharePoint Online, Viva Engage, Teams etc. The group mailbox is equipped with initial storage quota of 50 GB. If the group mailbox quota is reached, people sending emails to the group receive a non-delivery report. Hence, it’s a good practice to remove the older content from group mailboxes, to ensure the group mailbox doesn’t reach its quota.

Important: Data within the 'Deleted Items' folder counts toward the Group mailbox quota. Make sure to delete the messages from this folder so that they are not counted towards the quota - Once deleted from this location, it cannot be restored.

Does a group have a file storage quota limit?

Yes. The file storage quota is set to 25 GB.

Can a group be used to manage calendar permissions (i.e. resource account)?

No. To manage calendar permissions of an account, you will need to add individual user/service account addresses or use a Microsoft security group (MEG).

Can the email address of a group be changed?

Once the group is created, the group address cannot be modified - except for adding an alternate address and making it the primary. The only other option you have is to make a new group, move/copy all the data from the original group to the new one, confirm the data has been moved/copied over, then delete the original group.

How do you suppress the welcome email?

By default, when a member/owner is added to a group, they will receive a welcome email. If you do not want them to receive this email, please contact DoIT Help Desk and provide them with the following information: Group Name and the Group email address (

Can you assign a Microsoft 365 service account as a member/owner of a group?

Service Accounts can be members/owners of a group.

As a member of a group, they will only have access to the shared Inbox and shared Calendar features of the group. They won't get the document library, Planner, Teams, or any of the other capabilities/features of the group. 

As an owner of a group, in addition to their member privileges, they will also have the ability to manage the group settings.

To manage the M365 Group as the service account, the service account needs to be logged in directly with its own credentials. To view how to log in as the service account, please see "Log in to the Service Account using the Service Account credentials (browser)" within this article

How can I receive a copy of an email I send to the group?

If you are a member of a group and send a message to it, by default, the message will not be delivered to your mailbox. You now have the ability to change this setting so that messages you send to a group that you are a member of will also arrive into your mailbox - follow Microsoft steps to activate this setting (follow steps outlined within Web).

How do I report a message as spam/phish?

The group mailbox will receive messages which are legitimate. But, it will also receive spam/phishing type messages. It is highly recommended you submit these messages to the Microsoft 365 team for review. Any member of a group can report the message as spam/phish. To report a message as spam, forward the message as an attachment to To report a message as phish, forward the message as an attachment to Note: This process will not delete the message from the group mailbox, the message can only be deleted by a group owner.

What happens when a group is deleted?

All data within the group will be deleted, this includes conversations, OneDrive for Business files, Notebooks, Planner, Team, and calendar data.

A group can be deleted via the 'edit group' screen or via the Planner app.

A Group can be restored within 30 days of it being deleted by any owner of the Group. Please see Microsoft documentation on how to restore a group and learn what is restored.


Keywordsmicrosoft office365 o365 m365 microsoft 365 lists distribution contacts collaboration members calendar email conversation subscribe outlook create outlook web guest access external outside sender limits restore follow following unfollow inbox manage settings preferences groups send as restrict who can senders on behalf of alias alternate change name email address restore deleted recover teams private public view manage edit welcome suppress submit spam phish phishing sending permissions add allowed sender send as behalf internal senders only folders rules tls expired expiration renew restore service account owner member quota   Doc ID52404
OwnerO365 S.GroupMicrosoft 365
Created2015-06-12 08:55:59Updated2024-02-27 13:40:45
SitesDoIT Help Desk, DoIT Staff, Microsoft 365
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