Google Apps for Education

Chapter 3: Customize Google Apps for your school

Table of Contents

Add/remove services for your domain

Available services

Add services

Remove services

Customize products for your domain

Changing service settings

Overview of basic service changes

Custom URLs for services

Email security settings in Google Apps

Overview

Create a walled garden

Restrict email delivery based on policies

Add email settings

Objectionable Content policies

Configure Content Compliance settings

Append footer setting

Approved sender list

Blocked sender lists

Attachment compliance

Create "groups" for email lists and sharing

Groups Overview

Create a Group

Define roles and permissions for a group

Create an email list or group for the entire school

Use groups without email

Share calendar, docs, sites and videos with a group

Edit an existing group

Delete a group

Groups FAQ

More resources for Google Apps admins

Add/remove services for your domain

Available services

Note: You must have administrative privileges to makes changes to these settings

The Dashboard is what you see when you log in as an administrator to your school Apps domain.

When you're managing your domain, the Dashboard keeps you informed - status of services, number of users, email activity graph, links to Inbox and Help, and access to more management settings.

After you have verified your domain, you will see the following list of services available in your dashboard:

There are additional products available if you click on "Add more services"

Previously, many Google products -- such as Blogger, Reader, and Picasa Web Albums -- were available only in personal (consumer) Google Accounts. See the list of Google products accessible to users for use with accounts on your domain.

Google has also produced some services that can be useful, but haven't yet been approved to be added to the general set of services. Google Labs services are experimental. This means that Google does not offer any support for them, and that Google reserves the right to change these services or even remove them at any time. You may find support from other users in the discussion groups for each service, and you are welcome to submit feedback to Google on these services using their designated feedback email addresses. These products include:

Finally, you can also add additional services from Google Enterprise partners that have developed tools exclusively to use with Google Apps. You can browse or search for tools in the Solutions Marketplace.

Add services

Adding services is easy! Once your domain has been confirmed, you can add more products for your school to use. Besides the list of services that appear in your dashboard, you can also add the additional services:

  1. Log in to your control panel at http://www.google.com/a/cpanel/yourschool.org  (replace yourschool.org with your actual domain name)
  2. Click Add more services on the Dashboard page.
  3. Click Add it now for each service you'd like to add.

Please note: For some services that require changes to MX or DNS records, it may take some time to turn on (e.g. Mail or Google services).

Remove services

You do not have to turn on all the services in the Google Apps suite – even the ones that appear by default in your dashboard. You can have Docs and Sites turned on but keep Mail and Calendar off, if you prefer not to use the email and calendaring services.

If you're sure you no longer want one of the services available in Google Apps, you can disable the service by following these steps:

  1. Log in to your control panel at http://www.google.com/a/cpanel/yourschool.org (replace yourschool.org with your actual domain name)
  2. From the Service settings drop-down menu, select the service that you'd like to disable.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Disable (service).
  4. After reading the possible issues relating to disabling that service, click Yes, disable (service).

Please note: You can re-activate a service at any later date by following the instructions to add a service.

Customize products for your domain

Changing service settings

The Service settings tab in the admin control panel allows you to customize settings for all services in Google Apps. In general, this includes setting up a custom URL for the service, selecting a default sharing permission, disabling services, and many other unique settings that vary by service.

To change the service settings for a particular product:

  1. Log in to your control panel at http://www.google.com/a/yourschool.org  (replace yourschool.org with your actual domain name)
  2. Click the 'Settings'
  3. From the drop down, select the service you'd like to modify

Overview of basic service changes

Basic service changes available by product:

Mail

Calendar

Chat

Docs

Sites

Video

Custom URLs for services

You can create easy-to-remember, custom URLs that redirect your users to the sign-in page for each service at your domain.

Instead of telling users to sign in to their email accounts at http://mail.google.com/a/yourschool.org, you can change the web address to http://mail.yourschool.org. Then, when users type http://mail.yourschool.org into their browser address bars, they'll be redirected to http://mail.google.com/a/yourschool.org

To change the web address:

  1. Log in to your control panel at http://www.google.com/a/yourschool.org 
  2. From the Services settings drop-down menu, select any service.
  3. In the web address section for the service you selected, click change URL.
  4. Select the radio button next to the custom address field, and type your new web address. Some example names include mail, www, inbox, home, pages, calendar, events, and main.
  5. Click Change URLs for all domain services to customize all URLs at once. You'll still have to create a CNAME record for each custom URL.
  6. Click Continue.
  7. Follow the instructions to create a CNAME record with your domain host. (Skip this step if you purchased your domain from one of our domain registration partners, GoDaddy or eNom during the sign-up process.)
  1. Click I've completed these steps.

Please note: Google Apps doesn't support custom URLs for domain aliases.

Email security settings in Google Apps 

Overview

Google Apps for Education includes the ability to manage some email security settings directly within the Google Apps control panel.

Please note, to take advantage of these settings, you must be using the Next generation control panel.

Google Apps administrators can now create policies specifying who their users can communicate with over email, and administrators can tailor these policies for different groups of users.

By default, users with Gmail accounts at your domain can send mail to and receive mail from any other email address. In some cases, you want to restrict who your users can exchange mail with.

For example, school faculty and staff can have unrestricted email access while students have the freedom to send and receive emails within the school community but are protected from unwanted email interactions with outsiders.

The restrictions on email delivery apply to all users who belong to the organizational units you choose or to any organizational units that are its children in the organizational tree. Users in the children organizational units inherit the restrictions. Users who belong to other organizational units can exchange mail without restriction.

For example, the "student" organizational unit may also include "elementary" and "high school" sub-organizational units. If the "student" organizational unit is restricted to send and receive email only from myschool.org, users in both the "elementary" and "high school" organizational units will also have the same email restrictions to send and receive email only from myschool.org.

With the "Restrict email delivery" setting, you can list the domains that groups of users are allowed to exchange email with. Those users will then be able to send mail or receive mail from only email addresses at the listed domains. If a user attempts to send mail to a domain that is not listed, he or she sees a message saying that the organization has a policy prohibiting mail to that address, and the mail is not sent.

Users receive only authenticated messages from domains listed in the "Restrict email delivery" setting. Messages sent from unlisted domains — or messages from listed domains that can't be verified using DKIM or SPF records — are returned to the sender with a message about the policy.

Please note: To allow mail between users within your organization, you must include your school domain(s) in the list of permitted domains.

Create a walled garden

To restrict email delivery and create a "walled garden" environment for an organization of users, follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to the Google Apps administrator control panel at www.google.com/a/myschool.org
  2. Select the Advanced tools tab.
     
  3. The controls for restricting email delivery are in the Restrict email delivery section near the bottom of the page.
  4. Select the organizational units for which you want to restrict email delivery
  5. For example, select "Students" to create an email policy for the users in your "Students" organization unit. To apply the restriction to all users, choose the top-level organizational unit, the one at the root of the organizational tree.
  6. Click Add an organization.
  7. Highlight an organizational unit whose users you want to apply the restriction to.
  8. Click Add.
  9. Repeat steps 5 through 6 for each organizational unit you want to apply the restriction to.
  10. Select the domains your users are allowed to exchange mail with.
  11. Enter the domain name in the Allow email to or from these domains text box.
  12. Click Add.
  13. Repeat steps a and b for each permitted domain.

Please note: Don't forget to include your school domain to allow mail between users!

Please note: Mail sent to a group address at a permitted domain will be delivered to all users who are part of that group, including any users at non-permitted domains. For example, if mary@restricted.com is a member of the group teachers@permitted.com, she will receive any messages sent to the group.

Restrict email delivery based on policies

Add email settings

From the Google Apps control panel, you can configure Email settings for each organization in your domain. For example, you can set up multiple Content Compliance and Objectionable Content settings, and tailor these settings for a specific organization or sub-organization.

To add an email setting for an organization:

  1. Sign in to the Google Apps control panel at the following URL, where primary-domain-name is the domain name you used to sign up for Google Apps:

    https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/
    primary-domain-name
  2. Be sure to enter your actual domain for your primary-domain-name; for example: https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/solarmora.com
  3. Then enter your username and password to open the control panel.
  4. From the menu at the top of the page, select the Settings tab.
  5. From the left-navigation menu, click Email.
  6. From the Email settings page, click Filters.
  7. In the Organizations section near the top of the page, highlight the organization for which you want to add settings.
  8. To create a new setting, click the Add Setting button near the right edge of the window (the Add setting dialog box opens).
  9. Click the type of setting in the left navigation menu of the dialog box -- for example, Objectionable Content or Content Compliance.
  10. When you are finished making changes, click Add Setting.

Note: Any settings you add or edit will be highlighted in yellow-orange on the Email settings page.


  1. Click Save changes at the bottom of the Email settings page.

Objectionable Content policies

Objectionable Content policies are email filters based on word lists that you create in the Google Apps control panel. With Objectionable Content policies, you choose whether messages containing certain words (obscenities, for example) are rejected or delivered, and you have the option to notify others when the filter is triggered.

You can also set up filters to reject outbound emails that may contain sensitive student information -- for example, by setting up an outbound filter for the word confidential.

Objectionable Content policies apply to all users in an organization. Users within child organizations inherit the settings you create for the parent organization.

To set up an Objectionable Content policy for an organization:

  1. Follow the instructions previously outlined in Add Email Settings to an Organization.
  2. In the Add Setting dialog box, click Objectionable content in the left navigation menu.
  3. When you are finished making changes, click Add Setting to close the dialog box.
  4. Note: Any settings you add will be highlighted on the Settings page.
  5. Click Save changes at the bottom of the Email Settings page.

See the sections below for additional instructions and guidelines.

1. Email messages to affect

This enables you to set the policy for inbound, outbound, and/or intradomain mail (sending/receiving within your own domain). By default, each of the following check boxes is selected.

However if, for example, you want to limit the Objectionable Content policy to Outbound mail, you can clear all check boxes except Outbound. This would enable users to receive emails that contain profanity and users could also forward those same messages internally. In most school settings, this would probably not be appropriate. Meanwhile, selecting Outbound prevents your users from sending the same profanity to outbound recipients (to help ensure the replies are respectful).

2. Add words you want to search for in each message

The Custom objectionable words list enables you to create your own list of objectionable words.

To create a list of Custom objectionable words, follow these steps:

  1. Click Edit.
  2. Click Add.
  3. In the Enter words field, type a list of words (separated by spaces or commas).
  4. Click Save.

3. If the message contains the above words, do the following

This section enables you to specify what action to perform when an Objectionable Content filter is triggered by a message.

Modify message

If you choose this setting, the message is delivered to the intended recipient despite the objectionable content. However, you can optionally enter a prepend subject (for example, “[Objectionable content alert]"), as well as enter one or more extra header lines.

Reject message

If you choose this setting, the message is rejected before it reaches the intended recipient. If you enter customized text in this field, the sender will receive a rejection notice.

Notify others (bcc)

You also have the option to add others in your organization to the notification. Click Add, enter the email address, and optionally add a prepend subject and/or extra header. You can edit or delete email addresses from this notification by moving your cursor over the list.

Note: When you are finished, be sure to click Add Setting at the bottom of the dialog box, and then click Save changes at the bottom of the Email settings page to confirm your changes

Configure Content Compliance settings

Content Compliance policies (or settings) are email filters based on predefined sets of words, phrases, text patterns, or numerical patterns. Content Compliance filters scan messages for content that matches one or more of the rules that you set within the policy. You can choose whether these messages are rejected or delivered, and you also have the option to notify others when filters are triggered.

You have the option to set up Content Compliance filters using regular expressions. A regular expression, also called a regex, is a method for matching text with patterns. For example, a regular expression can describe the pattern of email addresses, URLs, telephone numbers, employee identification numbers, social security numbers, or credit card numbers.

For more details and instructions, see Guidelines for Using Regular Expressions, RE2 Syntax for Regular Expressions, and Examples of Regular Expressions.

Content Compliance policies apply to all users in an organization. Users within child organizations inherit the settings you create for the parent organization.

To set up a Content Compliance policy for an organization:

  1. Follow the instructions in Add Email Settings to an Organization.
  2. In the Add Setting dialog box, click Content Compliance in the left navigation menu.
  3. When you are finished making changes, click Add Setting to close the dialog box.
  4. Note: Any settings you add will be highlighted on the Settings page.
  5. Click Save changes at the bottom of the Settings page.

See the sections below for additional instructions and guidelines.

1. Email messages to Affect

This enables you to set the policy for inbound, outbound, and/or intradomain mail (sending/receiving within your own domain). By default, each of the following check boxes is selected. However, if (for example) you want to limit this setting to Outbound mail, you can clear all check boxes except Outbound.

2. Add expressions that describe the content you want to search for in each message

As you create a Content Compliance filter, you specify an expression -- or a set of expressions -- in this section.

Follow these steps to add expressions:

  1. Use the drop-down list to choose one of the following two options:
  1. For example, if you add multiple Expressions to a filter, and if you select ANY, then only one expression must match to trigger the filter. If you select ALL, then all expressions must match to trigger the filter.
  2. Click Add to add an expression. (You can add several expressions to one Content Compliance policy.)

3. If the above expressions match, do the following

This section enables you to specify what action to perform when a Content Compliance filter is triggered by a message.

Modify message

If you choose this setting, the message is delivered to the intended recipient despite the Content Compliance filter being triggered. Optionally, you can enter a prepend subject (for example, "[Content Compliance alert]"), as well as one or more extra header lines.

Reject message

If you choose this setting, the message is rejected before it reaches the intended recipient. If you enter customized text in this field, the sender will receive a rejection notice.

Notify others (bcc)

You also have the option to add others in your organization to the notification. Click Add, enter the email address, and optionally add a prepend subject and/or extra header. You can edit or delete email addresses from this notification by moving your cursor over the list.

Note: When you are finished, be sure to click Add Setting at the bottom of the dialog box, and then click Save changes at the bottom of the Email settings page to confirm your changes.

Append footer setting

Use the Append footer setting to configure outbound messages with footer text for legal compliance, or for informational and promotional requirements. The footer is added below the last existing text portion of a message.

Similar to other email security settings, the Append footer setting applies to all users in an organizational unit. Users within child organizations inherit the settings you create for the parent organization.

To set up an email footer for an organization:

  1. Follow the instructions in Add email settings to an organization.
  2. In the Add Setting dialog box, click Append footer in the left navigation menu.
  3. Type the content for the footer, and optionally use the formatting tools provided.
  4. Optionally you can select append the footer to internal messages being sent within your organization.
  5. When you are finished, click Add Setting to close the dialog box.
    Note: Any settings you add will be highlighted on the Email settings page.
  6. Click Save changes at the bottom of the Email settings page.
  7. Test the footer by sending a message to an address outside of your domain. Note that there may be some delay in saving the changes and having them take effect on new mail.

Note: When you are finished, be sure to click Add Setting at the bottom of the dialog box, and then click Save changes at the bottom of the Email settings page to confirm your changes.

Approved sender list

Incoming email messages are subjected to Google's spam filters, so messages detected as spam are automatically placed in a user's Gmail spam folder.

However, the Spam setting enables you to create an approved sender list to bypass the spam folder. You can approve specific senders based on the email address or domain. You can also approve all internal messages within your organization.

Approved sender lists can also be reused across different settings. For example, you can specify the same approved sender list in both the Spam and Blocked senders settings, and it would modify the behavior of both settings.

Similar to other email security settings, the Spam setting applies to all users in an organizational unit. Users within child organizations inherit the settings you create for the parent organization.

If a message from an approved sender contains a virus or is part of an email attack, Google's virus filters will still prevent it from reaching your users.

To set up an approved sender list using the Spam setting:

  1. Follow the instructions in Add email settings to an organization.
  2. In the Add Setting dialog box, click Spam in the left navigation menu.
  3. If you want to bypass spam filters for messages received from internal senders (from users in the same organization), click this check box.
  4. If you want to bypass spam filters for messages received from addresses or domains specified in your approved sender lists, click this check box.
  5. Click Add or create a new one to create a new approved sender list.
  6. Select the name of an existing list, or enter a custom name for a new list in the Create new list field and then clickCreate.
  7. Move your pointer over the list name, and then click Edit.
  8. To add email addresses or domains to the list, click Add.
  9. Enter an email address or domain name (for example, solarmora.com).
    Note: Click Do not require sender authentication if you want to bypass the spam folder for approved senders that do NOT have authentication such as SPF or DKIM enabled. Use this option with caution as it can potentially lead to spoofing.
  10. Click Save.
  11. If you want to add more email addresses or domains to the list, repeat steps 8-10.
  12. When you are finished making changes, click Add Setting to close the dialog box.
    Note: Any settings you add will be highlighted on the Email settings page.
  13. Click Save changes at the bottom of the Email settings page.

Blocked sender lists

The Blocked senders setting enables you to block or approve specific senders based on the email address or domain.

Similar to other email security settings, the blocked senders setting applies to all users in an organizational unit. Users within child organizations inherit the settings you create for the parent organization.

To set up blocked sender lists for an organization:

  1. Follow the instructions in Add email settings to an organization.
  2. In the Add Setting dialog box, click Blocked senders in the left navigation menu.
  3. When you are finished making changes, click Add Setting to close the dialog box.
    Note: Any settings you add will be highlighted on the Email settings page.
  4. Click Save changes at the bottom of the Email settings page.

See the sections below for additional instructions and guidelines.

1. Add addresses or domains that you want to automatically reject messages from

Messages are rejected if they are sent from a domain or individual address included in a blocked senders list.

To create a blocked sender list:

  1. Click Add or create a new one.
  2. Select the name of an existing list, or enter a custom name for a new list in the Create new list field, and then clickCreate.
  3. Move your pointer over the list name, and click Edit.
  4. To add email addresses or domains to the list, click Add.
  5. Enter the address or domain name, and click Save.
  6. If you want to add more email addresses or domains to the list, repeat steps 4 and 5.

2. Edit the default rejection notice

In this field, you have the option to enter customized text for the rejection notice.

3. Options

Click the Options check box to set up a new approved sender list or to reuse a list that you have already created. An approved sender list enables you to approve messages from specific addresses or domains. When you set up an approved sender list in the Blocked senders setting, messages from domains or email addresses in the list will bypass the Blocked senders setting.

(Note that other settings may still cause the message to be blocked.)

If a message from an approved sender contains a virus or is part of an email attack, Google's virus filters will still prevent it from reaching your users.

To create an approved sender list:

  1. Click the check box in the Options section.
  2. Click Add or create a new one.
  3. Select the name of an existing list, or enter a custom name for a new list in the Create new list field and then clickCreate.
  4. Move your pointer over the list name, and then click Edit.
  5. To add email addresses or domains to the list, click Add.
  6. Enter an email address or the domain name (for example, solarmora.com).

    Note: Click Do not require sender authentication if you want to bypass the Blocked senders setting for approved senders that do NOT have authentication such as SPF or DKIM enabled. Use this option with caution as it can potentially lead to spoofing.
  7. Click Save.
  8. If you want to add more email addresses or domains to the list, repeat steps 5-7.

Note: When you are finished, be sure to click Add Setting at the bottom of the dialog box, and then click Save changes at the bottom of the Email settings page to confirm your changes.

Attachment compliance

Use Attachment compliance settings to specify what action to perform for messages with attachments. With this setting, you can specify conditions based on file type, file name, and message size. Each setting can have its own consequences -- or method of processing filtered messages. For example, you can reject messages whose attachments exceed 20 MB, or you can modify a message by adding a header or entering a string to prepend to the subject when a message matches the conditions you set. Optionally you can also modify a message by stripping its attachments and adding an advisory notice to the message.

Similar to other email security settings, the attachment compliance setting applies to all users in an organizational unit. Users within child organizations inherit the settings you create for the parent organization.

To set up attachment compliance settings for an organization:

  1. Follow the instructions in Add email settings to an organization.
  2. In the Add Setting dialog box, click Attachment Compliance in the left navigation menu.
  3. When you are finished making changes, click Add Setting to close the dialog box.
    Note: Any settings you add will be highlighted on the Email settings page.
  4. Click Save changes at the bottom of the Email settings page.

See the sections below for additional instructions and guidelines.

1. Email messages to affect

This enables you to set the policy for inbound, outbound, and/or internal mail (sending/receiving within the set of domains associated with your organization). By default, each of the following check boxes is selected. However, if (for example) you want to limit this setting to Outbound mail, you can clear all check boxes except Outbound.

2. Conditions

As you configure an attachment compliance setting, you specify an expression -- or a set of expressions -- in this section.

Follow these steps to add expressions:

  1. Use the drop-down list to choose one of the following two options:
  1. For example, if you select multiple conditions for the setting, and if you select ANY, then any matching condition can trigger the consequences. If you select ALL, then all conditions must match to trigger the consequences.
  2. Click Add to add an expression. (You can add several expressions to one attachment compliance setting.) For each expression:

3. Consequences

This section enables you to specify what action to perform on a message when the conditions are met for an attachment compliance setting.

Modify message

If you choose this setting, the message is delivered to the intended recipient but may be modified slightly. You can enter a string to prepend to the subject (for example, "Attachment compliance alert:") as well as an extra header line. Optionally you can also modify a message by stripping its attachments and adding an advisory notice to the message.

Reject message

If you choose this setting, the message is rejected before it reaches the intended recipient. You have the option to enter customized text for the rejection notice.

Notify others (bcc)

This option enables you to add others in your organization to the notification. Click Add, enter the email address, and optionally add a string to prepend to the subject and/or extra header. You can edit or delete email addresses from this notification by moving your pointer over the list.

4. Options

Click the Options check box to allow messages from a specific set of addresses or domains to bypass an attachment compliance setting. A message from these addresses or domains is delivered even when the message matches the conditions of an attachment compliance setting.

(Note that other settings may still cause the message to be blocked.).

To create a list of addresses or domains that bypass the attachment compliance setting:

  1. Click the check box on the Options section.
  2. Click Add or create a new one.
  3. Select the name of an existing list, or enter a custom name for a new list in the Create new list field, and then clickCreate.
  4. Move your pointer over the list name, and then click Edit.
  5. To add email addresses or domains to the list, click Add.
  6. Enter an email address or the domain name (for example, solarmora.com).
    Note: Click Do not require sender authentication if you want to bypass the Attachment compliance setting for approved senders that do NOT have authentication such as SPF or DKIM enabled. Use this option with caution as it can potentially lead to spoofing.
  7. Click Save, and click Add again if you want to include additional email addresses or domains in the list.

Note: When you are finished, be sure to click Add Setting at the bottom of the dialog box, and then click Save changes at the bottom of the Email settings page to confirm your changes.

File types and file extensions

You can configure an attachment compliance setting to look for matches based on specific file types -- for example, Office documents, Video and multimedia, Music and sound, Images, and Executables. You can also enter Custom file types to look for matches based on specific file extensions -- for example, exe, bat, and cmd. See Conditions for step-by-step instructions.

Common file extensions are shown below, including the file types in which they are classified:

Office documents

cpr, cwk, cws, dcx, doc, dot, fax, fp, fp3, frm, gim, gix, gna, gnx, gra, mcw, mdb, mdn, met, mpp, obd, pdf, pps, ppt, pre, prs, rtf, shb, shw, wb1, wb2, wdb, wk1, wk3, wk4, wks, wp, wpw, wp4, wp5, wp6, wpd, wps, wpt, wq1, wq2, wri, ws1, ws2, ws3, ws4, ws5, ws6, ws7, wsd, xls, xlt, docm, docx, dotm, dotx, potm, potx, ppam, ppsm, ppsx, pptm, pptx, xlam, xlsb, xlsm, xlsx, xltm, xltx

Video and multimedia

avi, cfb, cmv, dir, gal, m3d, mmm, mov, mpe, mpeg, mvb, qt, qtm, xtp, xy3, xy4, xyp, xyw, mpg, wmv

Music and sound

aif, aiff, ams, cda, dcr, dsm, idd, it, mdl, med, mid, mp3, mtm, mod, mus, nsa, ra, ram, rm, rmi, rtm, snd, stm, svx, s3m, ult, voc, wav, wow, asf

Images

ai, art, att, bmp, cal, cdr, cdt, cdx, cmf, cmp, dib, drw, emf, eps, fh3, fif, fpx, gem, icb, iff, ima, img, jbf, jff, jif, jtf, kdc, kfx, lbm, mac, mic, pbm, pcd, pcs, pct, pcx, pgm, pic, pif, pnt, ppm, ps, psd, ras, raw, sct, sdr, sdt, sep, shg, tga, tif, tiff, vda, vst, wil, wmf, wpg, wvl, html, jpeg, jpg, gif, png

Executables

exe, ini, ins, iw, class, js, scr, vbs, com, pif, cpl, fon, asp, bat, cmd, hta, jse, shs, vb, vbe, ws, wsc, wsf, wsh

Create "groups" for email lists and sharing

Groups Overview

Within your school, you'll find that people interact repeatedly with groups of people. These groups of people may center around departments, job function, classes, geography, projects, topics of interest, and more. Members of these groups frequently need to communicate and collaborate with their whole group. In Google Apps, groups are used to facilitate this interaction.

Google Apps groups serve as mailing lists that allow you and others at your school domain to easily send messages to frequently contacted groups of people. These groups also can be used for sharing privileges to sites and videos that are owned by or only for use by a specific group of people.

You can add email addresses from within or outside your domain to a group, and you can even make one group a member of another group. The right to email a group can be restricted per group, which makes them great tools for managing announcements, private team communications, or open discussion lists.

Groups make managing team communications – email or scheduling, document creation, sites, and videos easier. As teams and groups change from year to year (or more/less frequently), you can update the group in one place, and don't have to do individual updates to any of your mailing lists, shared calendars, online documents, web sites or videos. Please note that only administrators can add/remove members and specify owners and managers

Example:

You create a group for faculty - 'faculty@myschool.org' - that has all the faculty accounts as members of the group. This group can be used as a mailing list – to send communications to all the faculty –  and for sharing access to a faculty-only site or video. Any email sent to 'faculty@myschool.org' then goes to all the members within that group, without having to enter individual email addresses. You can also use the group to share a site intended only for faculty. To share the site, you would enter the group name – in this case, 'faculty@myschool.org' – as the email address in the sharing preferences. Then all the members inside that group would have access to the site. You can do the same with video.

Please note: normal sending limits apply to messages sent to groups, and that each recipient on a list is counted when you send to the group.

Create a Group

With groups, you can use one email address to send a message to or share a site, document, or video with multiple people. Here's how:

  1. Log in to your domain's control panel at http://www.google.com/a/yourschool.org with your administrator account. Replace 'yourschool.org' with your actual school Apps domain name.
  2. Click Users and groups along the navigation bar.
  3. Click the Groups tab.
  4. Click Create a new group at the top of the page.
  5. Under Create a New Group, enter a Group name and Group email address, and optionally add a group description and modify the group permissions. Read more about permissions in the next step »
  6. Click Create. You'll be taken to a group details page.
  7. Add group members, then click Add.

That's it! You've created a group.

Terminology:

Group Name - A descriptive name for your group to helps the users at your school who may not be able to determine the purpose of the group solely from its email address.

Group Email Address - The email address users use to send to or share to the group. For example, if you enter 'faculty' as the group name, you can email or share sites with 'faculty@yourschool.org.'

Group Description - A long description for your group that helps the users at your school who may not be able to determine the purpose of a group just from its name and email address.

Define roles and permissions for a group

You can decide who has access to email the groups that you create.

Users in a group can be divided into members and owners. These roles are used to determine which group permissions apply to a given user. If emailing a group is restricted to group owners, then users who are not owners of the group will not be allowed to send email to it.

Roles and permissions are a great way to restrict access for important communication channels to authorized parties. You can have groups where email is restricted to owners, owners and members, everyone in your domain, or everyone in the world. Try out the different settings. The following are the types of permissions you can set for a group:

  1. Team (the default) - Email to this group is restricted to people in your school domain and individuals outside the domain who are members of the group. Useful for internal discussions, team discussions. Note that individuals outside the domain can be part of this group, so you could add parents or district staff who are not at your school to these lists.
  2. Public - Email to this group is not restricted. Useful for contact lists from outside individuals, like alumni or parent communication. However, a public group might be prone to spam.
  3. Announcement - Email to this group is restricted to people who are owners of the group. This is useful for internally broadcast top down communications, or for sending updates on a topic to a list of subscribers.
  4. Custom - Restrict sending however you like.

Please note: Domain admins automatically have full rights over any group, regardless of their membership or role in the group, or the group's permission settings.

Also note that group members who are outside the domain will be able to email the group depending on their role first, and their membership in the domain second.

Example:

Suppose you create a group for a Ms. Smith's 3rd period history class - 'history3smith.' The Group email address would be history3smith@yourschool.org. You would set Ms. Smith, the teacher, as the group owner, while adding the students as members. You could then specify this group to have the 'Announcement' type of permissions, where emails are restricted to group owners. For this group, only the group owner - Ms. Smith - could send emails out to the class list. The students would receive the emails, but not be able to send emails to 'history3smith@yourschool.org'.

Here's how to set roles and permission for a group:

  1. Log in to your control panel at http://www.google.com/a/yourschool.org
  2. Click Users and groups.
  3. Click Groups.
  4. Select the group you would like to modify from the list. The groups email permissions are displayed in the right column.
  5. Select Roles and permissions.
  6. To allow people outside of your domain to send to the group, select Public. Or use the other Permission presets or controls to determine who can send to the group.
  7. You can confirm exactly who you want to be able to send emails using the flowchart below.
  8. To customize who has the right to send emails to the group, check or uncheck the boxes for: Owners, Members, yourschool.org users, or anyone.
  9. Click Save changes.

Create an email list or group for the entire school

If you want to easily communicate with all the users at your school, you can create a group for your entire domain. This could be useful for school-wide announcements such as testing schedule or in-service day reminders, monthly events, etc. Instead of entering the name of every user at your school, you can check the box next to Add all users within this domain when you create the group.

All users within yourschool.org will appear as a special entry in the group member list, which you can remove and add back easily. You can apply different sending permissions for this type of group as well.

For example, you can have a school-wide group that only group owners can send mail to – such as an announcement style where only the principals and select faculty can send out mail, or you could create a school-wide list that only members can send mail to – this could be like a 'watercooler' type of list where anyone from the school can send out an email and anyone at the school can read and reply, or even a list where any email address, school or non-school can send mail to.

At your school, you will most likely use the 'announcement' style of school-wide lists, where only a select few owners can send out emails to the entire school.

Use groups without email

You do not have to have use email in Google Apps to use groups for sharing! You can set-up groups for the purpose of easily sharing documents, sites, calendars, and videos.

You will still create a group as outlined in the previous steps, but the email permissions will be irrelevant (if you do not have email turned on). When you are sharing calendars, documents, sites, or video you can use that group 'email address' and everyone who is a member of that group will automatically be shared with.

Example:

You do not have email turned on for your school, but Ms. Smith still wants her 3rd period history class group so she can easily share her online documents and class site. You create the group as you normally would, within the Users & Groups settings for 'history3smith@yourschool.org.' You add each of Ms. Smith's students as members of the group. Ms. Smith can then share her online document and class site with the address 'history3smith@yourschool.org' and each of her students will be able to access her document and site. Ms. Smith did not need to add each email address individually to the document or the site, she could still use the group 'email' address.

Share calendar, docs, sites and videos with a group

You can use the group email alias to share calendars, documents, sites, and videos in Google Apps. As you add new people to groups, they'll gain access to resources you previously shared with that group. Let's call them smart groups because they adapt to changes within your organization.

For example, using the alias 'faculty@yourschool.org' you can give access to anyone who is a part of the 'faculty' group in your school Apps domain. Any new faculty members you add later on will automatically gain access to shared items. Likewise, any faculty members removed from the group will no longer have access to the shared items.

In Google Calendar, you can share a calendar with a group by navigating to 'Share this calendar', and then entering a group's email address where you normally enter an individual's. The calendar will be shared with everyone in the group, and will automatically adjust to any membership changes over time.

In Google Docs, groups can be given permission to edit or view individual documents, spreadsheets, presentations, or files. Use the 'Share' button and invite the group email address to be the owner, collaborator, or viewer of the document.

In Google Sites, you can share a site with a group in the same way. When you go to 'More Actions' > 'Share this site', choose whether you want everyone in the group to be an owner, collaborator, or viewer. Enter in the group email address, select the appropriate sharing level, and the site will be shared with everyone in the group. The site will automatically detect group membership changes - if you remove one member from the group, they will no longer be able to view the site.

In Google Video, you can make a video available to a group as well by adding a group to the collaborator or viewer list.

Edit an existing group

As a school year ends and another begins, you may find yourself needing to change memberships in the various groups you have created. You can edit group memberships, roles, and permissions at any time. Just go to an existing group's page:

If you know the group email address, enter the following URL into your browser's location box: https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/yourschool.org/Group?groupId=yourgroup@yourschool.org

For example, if you wanted to modify your 'faculty' group address, you would enter: https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/yourschool.org/Group?groupId=faculty@yourschool.org

If you don't know the group email address:

  1. Log in to your control panel at http://www.google.com/a/cpanel/yourschool.org 
  2. Click Users and Groups.
  3. Click the Groups tab.
  4. Browse through the list of groups until you find your group, and click on the group email address.

To add more users to your group:

  1. Go to the group's page in your control panel.
  2. Enter the usernames you'd like to add in the box under Add as a comma separated list.
  3. Click Add.

To remove users from your group:

  1. Go to the group's page in your control panel.
  2. Check the box next to the name(s) you want to remove.
  3. Click Remove from this list.

Please note: Removing a username from a list does not delete the user's account - he or she will simply stop receiving messages addressed to the list.

Also note that you can also add users to a list or remove them from lists by opening the user's profile. Look for the appropriate links in the Email lists section of the user's profile.

To change roles of members/owners in your group:

  1. Go to the group's page in your control panel.
  2. Check the box next to the member(s) whose roles you want to change, and select the role from the More Actions dropdown.

To modify permissions of who can send email in your group:

  1. Go to the group's page in your control panel.
  2. Click on Roles and Permissions.
  3. Select either the descriptive permission preset for the group or adjust the slider for Who can email this group directly.
  4. Click Save.

Delete a group

You can delete groups if you won't need them anymore. Here's how:

  1. Go to the group's page in your control panel. You can get to the group's page from the Users and groups tab in your control panel.
  2. Click Delete group along the top of the page.

You can also delete multiple groups at once from the group list page. Deleting a group does not delete the users subscribed to the list.

Groups FAQ

Here are some commonly asked questions about Groups in Google Apps:

More resources for Google Apps admins

There is more help documentation that goes into extensive detail on how to manage your school Apps domain.

Here are a few topics you can review in the Google Apps Admin Help Center:

Visit the Google Apps Admin Help Center: http://www.google.com/support/a/