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Chapter 5: User Managed Groups

Table of contents

User managed groups

Overview

Add User Managed Groups to your domain

Remove User Managed Groups from your domain

Migrate Admin Managed Groups to User Managed Groups

Set group properties

Hide/Show in the Group Directory

Set sharing options

Change web address

Manage a group

Create a group

Create a group with everyone at your school

Add a group to another group

Edit a group

Delete a group

View group membership

Sharing with groups

Use groups to share content

Use Groups to create a shared inbox

Invite Groups to Calendar events

User managed groups

Overview

With User-Managed Groups for Google Apps, you can enhance messaging and collaboration among your school staff, teachers, students and even parents.

With this service, users can create their own groups, so they can further customize their communications -- without the need to contact the domain administrator. You can give this privilege to users and remove it at any time. If you let users create their own groups, they can managed their groups to control who can join, send messages, invite members, view members, and view discussion archives.

Benefits

Instructors can improve communications among students by creating groups for their classes, subjects, and grade levels. Students can use groups to reach other students in their classes, sports teams, clubs, and extracurricular activities.

You control what users can do

As a Google Apps administrator, you can enable or disable the Google Groups for Business service whenever you want. If the service is enabled, you still retain full control over the groups in your organization. You can also prevent users from adding external members to their groups, edit or delete users' groups, or even stop users from creating their own groups altogether.

Please note: If multiple domains are associated with your organization's Google Apps account, only users in your primary domain can use the user-managed groups service.

Add User Managed Groups to your domain

If you enable the Google Groups for Business service, your users can access their "My Groups" page and your Groups directory to manage their group memberships, view group discussion archives, and optionally create their own groups.

Please note: After you enable user-managed groups, any existing groups become visible in your school’s Groups directory (it may take up to 6 hours for them to appear, however). Your existing groups also receive default access and other settings, depending on their current settings and when the groups were created.

If you have multiple organizational units, you can easily turn it on or off for the different organizational units that contain specific users.

If your domain is set up to automatically enable new services:

You don't need to take any action to enable user-managed groups. You'll see the Google Groups for Business service on the dashboard of your admin control panel, already enabled (active):

To add user-managed groups to your domain, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your admin control panel.
  2. If you don't see the Google Groups for Business service on the dashboard, click Add more services on the dashboard:
  3. Under Google Groups for Business, click Add it now:

Please note: If the Google Groups for Business service isn't listed here, make sure you enable the Next Generation version of your control panel.

Remove User Managed Groups from your domain

You can disable or re-enable the Google Groups for Business service at any time.

If you disable the Google Groups for Business service:

To disable the Google Groups for Business service, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your admin control panel.
  2. Go to the Settings tab:
  3. Click on Google Groups for Business.
  4. Scroll to the bottom and click the Uninstall Google Groups for Business link:

If you later re-enable the Google Groups for Business service:

Migrate Admin Managed Groups to User Managed Groups

If you've already created groups using your admin control panel and then enable the Google Groups for Business service, all of your existing groups are:

Please note: Access-level settings are applied to migrated groups differently, depending on whether a group was created before or after the Google Groups for Business service was initially released (December 2009):

If a group was created after the Google Groups for Business service was released (December 2009)

The migrated group receives the equivalent access level in the Google Groups for Business service. For example, if the group was set to the Team access level, it receives the Team access level for Google Groups for Business, which includes additional features, such as membership management and discussion archives.

If a group was created before the Google Groups for Business service was released

The migrated group receives these default settings, which provide security:

Please note: In the list of groups in your admin control panel, the Type column shows Custom for this type of migrated group, to indicate that it has custom access settings. You can edit a migrated group to change any of these access settings.

Set group properties

Hide/Show in the Group Directory

If the Google Groups for Business service is enabled, you can hide any group from your Groups directory. Or, you can show any group that's hidden from the directory.

To hide or show a group from your Groups directory, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your admin control panel.
  2. Click Groups.
  3. Browse through the list of groups until you find the group you want to show or hide, and then click the group email address.
  4. Click View in groups service at the top of the page. For example:
  5. You'll be taken to the group's page in your Google Groups for Business service.
  6. Click Group settings on the right.
  7. Click the Access tab.
  8. Under Directory listing, select an option to show or hide the group.
  9. Click Save changes.

Set sharing options

If the Google Groups for Business service is enabled, you can set sharing options that determine:

Please note: Users can always manage their own group memberships. They can remove themselves from any groups they are a member of, and depending on the group's settings, add themselves to a group.

There are four sharing options you can set for Google Groups for Business across your domain:

  1. Outside this domain - Control if those who do not have accounts with your domain can access the Google Groups service.
  2. Creating groups - Control who can create new groups on your domain and customize how they appear.
  3. Member and email access - Control whether Groups can include members from outside your school domain.
  4. Group visibility - Allow Group owners to hide/show the group in the directory.

To change the sharing options for a group, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your control panel.
  2. In the Service settings section of the dashboard, click Google Groups for Business.
  3. Set the options you want to use based on the options outlined below.

Outside this domain - manage access to groups

Options:

Public on the Internet:

Anyone outside your domain can access your Google Groups service and view the list of groups in your Groups directory. They may also be able to do the following, depending on a group's access settings:

If you select this option, the following also occurs on the "Create a new group" page: For administrators, under Public, the option Also grant this access to anyone on the Internet becomes available in both the control panel and your Google Groups for Business service. For users, this option becomes available in your Google Groups for Business service only if you also select the following additional sharing options:

Private:

Access to your Google Groups service is restricted to users in your domain. However, if any groups already have external members, those members can still send email to their groups.

Creating groups

Options:

Anyone on the Internet can create groups

Both users in your domain and anyone on the Internet can create their own groups using your Google Groups service. This setting applies only if Public on the Internet is selected for group access.

Anyone in this domain can create groups

Only users in your domain can create groups using your Google Groups service. If you later disable this option, user-created groups remain active -- that is, messages can still be sent to these groups.

Only domain admins can create groups

Any Google Apps administrator for your domain can create groups. Users can't create their own groups, but they can still access their My Groups page and your Groups directory to manage their subscriptions to groups.

Add a suffix to groups created by users

Automatically adds the text you specify to the address of any user-created groups. For example, if you specify the suffix "-user-created," and a user creates the group "training@solarmora.com," the actual group address is "training-user-created@solarmora.com." Note that this option does not affect any groups that users have already created. Use this option to:

Member and email access

Options:

Group owners can allow members outside this domain:

Group owners can add external addresses to their groups. They can also allow people outside your domain to join their group. This is a option that would allow parents to receive emails from a school group. If you later disable this option, any external addresses already added to users' groups remain in those groups.

Group owners can allow incoming email from outside this domain:

Group owners can allow people outside your domain to send email to their groups. A school Parents group could benefit from using this option, allowing them to interact with staff inside the domain. If you select this option, the following occurs on the "Create a new group" page for users: Under Team, the Also allow anyone on the Internet to post messagesoption becomes available. (This option is always available to administrators.)

If you or a user creates a group that allows people outside your domain to send messages to the group, you can also edit the group's settings to specify whether an external sender must also be a member of a group: On the groups page in your Google Groups for Business service, click Group settings > Access, and then under Who can post messages?, select Members only.

Groups visibility

Options:

Group owners can hide their groups from the Groups directory:

Gives group owners the option of preventing their groups from being listed in your domain's Groups directory.

Hide newly created groups from the Groups directory:

Automatically hides any new groups that users create from your domain's Groups directory. Group owners can still override this setting and show their groups in the Groups directory.

Please note: Migrated groups also receive the default sharing settings, which you can edit on the "Google Groups for Business" page in your admin control panel.

Change web address

If the Google Groups for Business service is enabled, users can access your Groups service by clicking the Groups link at the top of their Gmail or other Google service window.

They can also access the Groups service directly, by entering its Web address (URL) in their browser. The default address is:

http://groups.google.com/a/yourschool.org

We recommend that you customize the default URL to make it easier for users to remember -- for example:

http://groups.yourschool.org

(Make sure you replace yourschool.org with your actual domain name.)

To create a custom URL, you'll also need to update your DNS records at your domain host (unless you registered your domain name with a Google partner when signing up for Google Apps):

  1. In your admin control panel, click Service settings > Google Groups for Business.
  2. Under Web address, click Change URL.
  3. Enter a name in the field, such as "groups".
  4. Click Continue for instructions on updating your DNS records.

Manage a group

Create a group

It's easy to create a group for your school or district. Use a group as a mailing list to send email messages to your class or meeting invitations to all teachers at once, using the group's single email address. Or, use a group to quickly share Google documents, sites, videos, or calendars with multiple people using a single address, even parents.

With User managed groups, you can allow teachers and students to set-up their own groups, without the need to have just the domain administrator set-up and manage the group.

Please note - after you create a group, you may need to wait a few minutes for your new group to become "active" before sending a message to it. Otherwise, you might receive a notification that your message could not be delivered.

If the user-managed groups service (known as Google Groups for Business) is enabled:

A group you create automatically appears in your Groups directory, which all users can access. However, it may take up to 6 hours for it to appear there. If you prefer to hide a group from the directory, you can edit the group's settings after you create it. To hide a group, you must set sharing options to allow group owners to hide groups.

If multiple domains are associated with your organization's Google Apps account:

At this time, you can create groups with addresses only in your primary domain. Also, if the user-managed groups service is enabled, only users in your primary domain can use the Groups directory and create and manage groups.

Ways to create groups

To create one group at a time, use either of the following:

To create multiple groups at once, use one of the following tools (available for Google Apps for Business and Education only):

Create a group with the control panel

  1. Click Groups.
  2. Click the Create a new group link at the top of the page.
  3. Enter a Group name and Group email address, select the domain for which you would like to create the group, and optionally add a Group description. For details about permitted group names, see these tips on character usage.

    Tip: Use the description field to help users determine the purpose of a group. For example, you can include information about who should join the group, the types of messages you should send to the group, links to FAQs about the group, related groups to use, and so on.
  4. Choose an Access setting.
  5. Click Create new group. You'll be taken to the "Add members" page. Follow the next steps to continue setting up your group on this page. Or, add members and set up advanced options by clicking the View in groups service link to go to the group's page in your Groups directory.
  6. Add the email addresses of the group's members. Or, to create group that includes all users in your domain, without having to enter all their email addresses, click Add all users within this domain to this group.
  7. Optionally, change the group role from Member to Owner or Manager.
  8. Optionally, tell members about the new group by entering an invitation message and clicking Invite members. If you don't want to send an invitation, click Skip this step.

Create a group with everyone at your school

If you need to send email to all users in your school domain, you can easily make all users members of a group, without having to enter each user's address one at a time. Even after you create the group, any new users you add to your organization's Google Apps account are automatically added to the group.

Please note:

Only Google Apps administrators can create an organization-wide groups.

If multiple domains are associated with your organization's Google Apps account, you can create an organization-wide group with an address in your primary domain only.

To create an school or district-wide group, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new group.
  2. On the "Create a new group" page, click Add all users within [school/district name] to this group.

The group's member list now includes a special member called All users within school/district name. For example:

You can edit the groups access settings or delete it, just like any other group. However, you can't edit the members within the special All users member.

Tip: To prevent spam being sent to everyone in your domain, allow only group owners and managers to send messages to a group that has the All users member.

Add a group to another group

Create larger groups more quickly

To save time when creating a group with many members, you can simply add other group addresses to the members list. For example, if want to create a new group for all the sales persons in regions A, B, and C, and you've already created separate groups for those regions, just add, or "nest," the three region addresses as members of your new group.

More easily maintain group memberships

Another advantage of nesting groups is that you can more easily maintain group memberships across multiple groups simultaneously. For example, you can create several smaller groups that contain members who typically receive the same types of communications, such employees in the same departments or teams. Then, use these smaller groups to build larger groups. That way, if you need to add or remove the same member from multiple groups, you can edit just the one smaller group to which the member belongs. All of the larger groups of which that smaller group is a member are updated automatically.

Edit a group

As an administrator, you can edit any group in your domain to change its membership, roles, access settings, name and description, and email address (user-managed groups only). Just go to the group's page in your control panel and make the changes.

Settings we will review that you can edit include:

To go to group's page in your admin control panel:

  1. Log in to your admin control panel.
  2. Click Groups.
  3. Browse through the list of groups until you find your group, and then click the group email address.

To add members

  1. In the Add new members field, enter user names or email addresses, separated with commas.
  2. Optionally, change the role from Member to Owner or Manager.
  3. Click Add.

To remove members

  1. Check the box next to the members you want to remove.
  2. Click Remove members.

Please note:

To change a member's group role

  1. Check the box next to the members whose roles you want to change.
  2. In the More Actions drop-down list, select the role.

To change a group's name and description

  1. Go to the group's page in your admin control panel.
  2. Click the Change group info button.
  3. Change the group's name or description.
  4. Click Save group info.

To change a group's email address

Please note: You can change the email address of a group only if the user-managed groups service is enabled.

Once you change a group's address:

To change a group email address:

  1. Click View in groups service.
  2. Click Group settings on the right.
  3. In the General tab, click the Edit button in the lower left.
  4. In the Enter new address field, enter the group's new address.
  5. Click Save change.

Delete a group

As an administrator, you can delete any group in your domain that you don't need anymore. If the user-managed groups service is enabled, you (as an administrator) can also delete groups that users created.

Where can I delete groups?

You can delete a group from:

Is deletion permanent?

What happens after I delete a group?

From the "Groups" page, you can either permanently delete the group or restore it later.

To permanently delete a group from your admin control panel, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your control panel.
  2. Click Groups.
  3. Browse through the list of groups until you find your group.
  4. Check the box for the group in the list.
  5. Click Delete groups.

You can also delete multiple groups at once from the groups list page, by checking the boxes for groups and clicking Delete groups.

To temporarily delete a group from the user-managed groups service, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your control panel.
  2. Click Groups.
  3. Browse through the list of groups until you find your group, and then click the group email address.
  4. At the top of the group's page, click View in groups service.
  5. On the right, click Group settings.
  6. Click the Advanced tab.
  7. Click Delete group.

How do I restore a group I deleted from the Google Groups for Business service?

You can restore a group, all of its settings, and its archive (if applicable), if the group was deleted from the Google Groups for Business service rather than your admin control panel. First, find the deleted group on the "Groups" page in your admin control panel. You can quickly identify a deleted group because its email address is changed to include "-deleted." Then, to restore the group, you just need to edit it to change its address back to the original email address.

For example, if you deleted the group "englishdept-group@g1usd.org", it would appear as "englishdept-group-deleted@g1usd.org". You would edit the group's email address to be "englishdept-group@g1usd.org" once again and the group would be restored.

To change a group email address, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your control panel.
  2. Click Groups.
  3. Browse through the list of groups until you find your group, and then click the group email address.
  4. At the top of the group's page, click View in groups service.
  5. On the right, click Group settings.
  6. On the General tab, click the Edit button on the lower left of the page.
  7. Type in the original email address for the group (minus the "-deleted").
  8. Click Save Changes. 

View group membership

You can view a list of all the groups of which a user is a member. If the Google Groups for Business service is enabled, this list also includes any groups that the user owns.

To view a user's group memberships, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your admin control panel.
  2. Click Organization & users.
  3. Find the user in the list.
  4. If necessary, first select the organization in which the user's account resides.
  5. Or, search for the user by typing his or her email address in the search field at the top of the control panel and clicking Search accounts.
  6. Click the link for the user.
  7. On the user's profile page, under Groups, you'll see a list of the user's groups. For example:

Sharing with groups

Use Groups to share content

Google Groups makes it easy to share your Google documents, sites, videos, and calendars with multiple people. As you add new members to your groups, they'll automatically gain access to content you previously shared with that group.

For example, if you create a group with the address "department-heads@your_domain.com" and add five members, you can instantly share a Google document with them, just by sharing the document with the group's address. If you later add another member, that member automatically inherits permission to access the document or any other content you shared with the group. Similarly, if you remove a member from a group, that individual no longer has access to any content you shared with the group.

Please Note:

To share a document or spreadsheet with a group:

  1. Create a new document, or open an existing document.
  2. Select the Share button
  3. From the Sharing Settings, enter the group's address.
  4. Select the level of access you want to provide the group: Can edit or Can view
  5. Optionally, to restrict access to only the group, remove any users by selecting the X next to their name.
  6. Check or uncheck the box for Email new users, and then click Invite.

To share a site with a group:

  1. Create a new site, or open an existing site.
  2. Click More actions > Share this site
  3. Under Invite people to your site, select the level of access you want to provide the group, and then enter the group's address in the field.
  4. Optionally, to restrict access to only the group: Under Advanced permissions, uncheck the box for Anyone at [your domain] can view this site.
  5. Click Invite these people and then Send the invitation.

To share your calendar with a group:

  1. Open your Google Calendar.
  2. In the upper right, click Settings > Calendars, and the click the calendar you want to share.
  3. Click Share this calendar.
  4. Under Share with specific people, in the Person field, enter the email address of the group with which you want to share the calendar.
  5. In the Permissions Settings drop-down list, select the level of access you want to give the group.
  6. Click Add Person.
  7. Click Save.

To share a video with a group:

  1. Upload a new video, or open an existing video.
  2. Click Share.
  3. In the Invite field, enter the group's address.
  4. Select the level of access you want to provide the group.
  5. Optionally, to restrict access to only the group: Uncheck the box for Anyone at [your domain] may view this video.
  6. Check or uncheck the box for Email new users, and then click Invite.

Please note:

Use Groups to create a shared inbox

With the Google Groups for Business service, you can use groups to create "shared mailboxes" for your users -- without having to create new user accounts. With a shared mailbox group, users can send and reply to messages using the group's email address rather than their own addresses.

This type of group is especially useful for technical support or customer service purposes. For example, you can create a group with the address "support@your_domain.com," add your support staff as members, and allow people outside your organization to send messages to that group. Your support staff will receive your customers' messages and can reply on behalf of the group's address. To do so, they simply go to the group's discussion archive and select the group's address when they post their replies.(Note that when posting from the discussion archive, you can't send file attachments.)

To set up a group as a shared mailbox, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your admin control panel and create or edit a group.
  2. Select the appropriate access level for the group. Typically, for a shared mailbox for support purposes, you would select:Team + Also allow anyone on the Internet to post messages
  3. If you want to let users create their own groups and allow people outside your organization to send messages to the group, ensure that the appropriate sharing options are selected for your Google Groups for Business service.
  4. Add the group members who need a shared mailbox.
  5. After you create the group, go back to the "Groups" page in your admin control panel and select the group's name.
  6. Click the View in groups service link at the top of the page. You'll be taken to the group's page in your Google Groups for Business service.
  7. Click Group settings on the right.
  8. Click the Email Delivery tab.
  9. Under Posting on behalf of the group, select Let members of the group post on behalf of the group's email address.
  10. Optionally, add Subject prefix and Message footer, which are useful for technical support groups.
  11. Optionally, click the Access tab to set options to prevent others in your organization from viewing group content, viewing the members list, or joining the group without an invitation.
  12. Click Save changes.

To reply to a message on behalf of a group, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the group's discussion archive: At the top of your Gmail or other Google service window, click Groups, then click the name of the group in your My Groups list.
  2. If you frequently reply on behalf of the group, you can add the group as an alternate From address for your Gmail account, so that you can reply from your own account instead of from the group discussion archive. If you do so, make sure you also select the option to Reply from the same address the message was sent to.
  3. On the "Discussions" page, find the message you want to reply to, and then click its subject line. For example:
  4. Below the message text, click Reply to send a reply to all the group's members and the author, or click Reply to authorto send a reply to only the author. For example:
  5. In From drop-down list, select the group's address. For example:
  6. Compose your message and click Send.

Invite Groups to Calendar events

There are two primary reasons to invite group email addresses to an event:

If you invite a group to a calendar event, the group's members list expands in the invitation, but only if you have the appropriate access permissions for that group. This limitation protects the privacy settings for a group, and it applies to both users and administrators.

Who can expand a group's members list in calendar invitations?

Whether you can expand a group's members list depends on the "who can view members" setting for the group. For example, the Announcement access setting allows only a group's owners and managers to view the members list, so only those users can expand the group's list of members in calendar invitations.


How do I edit a group to allow users to expand the members list in calendar invitations?

For a group created before the Google Groups for Business service was released (December 2009), edit its access settings as follows:

  1. In your admin control panel, click Groups.
  2. Select the group in the list.
  3. Do one of the following:

Who can see a group's expanded members list in a calendar invitation?

Once a group has been expanded, anyone who is invited to the event — even those who are not a member of the group — can see the expanded list. The expanded list looks like individual invitations, so there is no way for invitees to tell who is a member of a particular group.

If I add or remove members to or from the group, is the expanded members list updated automatically?

No. Once a group's members list is expanded in a calendar invitation, it's no longer linked to the group's member list in your Groups service. Therefore, if you add or remove a member, you'll need to manually add or remove that member in the calendar invitation.

Note, however, that sharing a calendar with a group works differently: If you add or remove a member, access to the shared calendar is updated automatically to reflect the change in the members list.

How are invitations to very large groups handled?

When a group invitation expands to over 500 people (after accounting for duplicate individuals within the group), these restrictions take effect:

When large groups are invited to an event, this behavior remains the same:

If an invitation is sent to a group and the group membership changes, the event invitee list does not currently change.