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?.

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.

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.


  • 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.
  • All groups are assigned an email address which follows the format: By default, anyone with a UW-Madison Office 365 account can send a message/email to the group - this can be managed within the settings of the group.
  • By default, when new Office 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 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.
  • Service Accounts can be members of a group, but they will only have access to the shared Inbox and shared Calendar features of the group. They won't get the document library, Planner or any of the other capabilities/features of the group.

There are two types of groups: Standard and 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.
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, 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.

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.

Note: Message originators won't receive copies of their messages in their inboxes.

Learn how to follow or unfollow 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.

Manage/view Group Settings/Parameters.

For more information about how to perform certain actions, such as 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.

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 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. Please see Microsoft documentation on what is restored. Contact the DoIT Help Desk and request the Group to be restored - please provide the Group name and email address.

See Also:

Keywords:microsoft office365 o365 lists distribution contacts collaboration wisclist members calendar email conversation subscribe outlook create outlook web groups guest access external outside sender limits restore follow following unfollow inbox manage settings preferences   Doc ID:52404
Owner:Ara M.Group:Office 365
Created:2015-06-12 08:55 CDTUpdated:2019-05-13 08:42 CDT
Sites:DoIT Help Desk, DoIT Tech Store, Office 365
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