Office 365 - Getting Started with Groups

Important: You have multiple choices when it comes to using this feature. Before proceeding, please review the following document to see if another option exists to better suit your needs: Office 365 - What are the differences between an Office 365 Group, an Office 365 Security Group, a Contact list, a Google Group, and WiscLists?.

Office 365 Groups is a powerful and productive platform that brings together conversations and calendar from Outlook, files from OneDrive, tasks from Planner, and a shared OneNote notebook into a single collaboration space for your team. Your team interactions can be more social than traditional group communications because you can use @mentions to get your teammates’ attention and “like” messages rather than agreeing via email.

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.


  • Service Accounts can be added to a group, but they will only have access to email feature within the group.
  • If you are 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. If you want the message to also be delivered to your mailbox, add your address to the To/Cc/Bcc field. You also have the option to view the message within the Group conversation list.
  • Groups cannot be used to assign/set permissions to email folders/calendars (including resource calendars). Security groups can be used to set/assign permissions for multiple users at once.

Types of Office 365 Groups

There are two types of groups:

  1. Standard
  2. Professional Learning Community (PLC)

Two main differences between a standard group and a PLC group:

  1. OneNote Online Notebook templates.
  2. Default privacy settings.

OneNote Online Notebook templates
Default privacy settings
 Standard group
Templates are not readily available. Learn how to create a template in OneNote Online Notebook.
Professional Learning Community (PLC) group
Templates are readily available to meet the needs of educators.

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.


  • Before you can join a group, you need to find it. Fortunately, groups are open and discoverable 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, anyone can send email to a private group and even receive replies from that private group.
  • You have the ability to change a public group into a private group, or a private group into a public group.

How to create a group?

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

How to manage or interact with a group?

Groups can be created and managed by any Office 365 account. View the following video to see a group in action. At this time, PLC groups can only be created using Outlook on the web. When creating a group via Outlook on the web, you will have the option to create a Standard and Professional Learning Community (PLC) 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 Office 365.

For more information about how to perform certain actions, such as joining a group, scheduling a meeting on the group calendar, managing group members, etc, review the following document: Learn about Office 365 groups.

Guest access

Guest access in Office 365 Groups enables you and your team to 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—including partners, vendors, suppliers, or consultants—by any group owner.

Learn how to use guest access.

What happens when a group is deleted

  • All data within the group will be deleted, this includes conversations, onedrive files, notebooks, planner, and calendar data. The data cannot be restored.
  • A group can be deleted via the 'edit group' screen or via the Planner app.

What clients/devices can I use?

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

Compare Outlook Groups on all platforms

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

See Also:

Keywords:microsoft office365 o365 lists distribution contacts collaboration wisclist members calendar email conversation subscribe outlook create outlook web group guest access external   Doc ID:52404
Owner:Ara M.Group:Office 365
Created:2015-06-12 08:55 CDTUpdated:2017-09-15 09:13 CDT
Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Office 365
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