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, and a Google Group?.

Groups in Office 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.


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 Office 365 will be able to search for and see the members of any Group. To manage this feature, see Office 365 - Make a Group Hidden or Unhidden 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 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, by default, anyone with a UW-Madison Office 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.

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

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 (

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

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

  1. Select "Settings" within your Office 365 group
  2. groups_setting.png

  3. Select "Edit group"
  4. group_edit.png

  5. Select the "Let people outside the organization email the group" setting
  6. group_outside_email.png

  7. Select "Save"

Important: If you have not enabled advanced administration for the Group, you will not be able to complete the steps below. See Manage/View Group Settings/Parameters on how to enable advanced administration.

  1. Log into the
  2. Enter your NetID credentials
  3. Select Delegated Administration
  4. Select a domain that you have administrative rights to

    • If you do not see the option to select a domain (ex:, you do not have administrative rights to one
    • You will need to contact the DoIT Help Desk or your IT department for further assistance
  5. Select Add Alternate Address

    • Account to Add Address To: Enter your Office 365 Group's email address (ex:
    • New Alternate Address: Enter your preferred alternate email name (ex: buckyacademics)
  6. Select Add Alternate Address
  7. Search for your Office 365 Group email address (ex: in the search field
  8. Select Email Addresses
  9. Select Set Primary next to the newly created alternate email address
  10. Done

Note: If your newly created alternate email address does not appear right away for your Office 365 Group, try opening a new private browser session and search for your Office 365 Group using the group's email address. Then select the Email Addresses option and try to select the alternate email address as the primary again.

Once the group is created, the group address cannot be modified - except for adding an alternate 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.

Important: If you have not enabled advanced administration for the Group, you will not be able to complete the steps below. See Manage/View Group Settings/Parameters on how to enable advanced administration.

  1. Log into the
  2. If prompted, enter your NetID credentials
  3. Search for your Office 365 Group email address (ex: in the search field
  4. Select Sending Permissions
  5. Modify the desired sending permissions

It may take up to 60 minutes for the change to be reflected within Office 365.

Note: When using Outlook on the web, for users having the "Send As" permission for specific Microsoft 365 groups, when they compose, reply, reply all and forward mail from Group mailbox then the default "From" address populated would be Group id (email address) instead of their individual address. This change will affect only when users are inside a Group mailbox where they have send-as permissions. There will be no changes in behaviors in the personal/individual mailbox.

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 Office 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 Office 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.
  • Nesting groups is not supported. If you add another Office 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.

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:

AddressOfGroup = email address of the group (

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.)

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.

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.

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.

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).

Groups can be created and managed by any fully licensed Office 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 Office 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 Office 365 groups.

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. Important: If it has been more than 30 days since the Group was deleted, the Office 365 team will not be able to restore - Microsoft automatically expunges all Group data after it has been more than 30 days of deletion.

Warning: When you delete a group, you're permanently removing everything related to this group, including conversations, files, the group notebook, and Planner tasks.

Any owner of a group can delete a group by following the web client instructions at Microsoft support.

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.

See Also: