Understanding the Difference Between Contact Groups and Google Groups

Audience: Faculty, Staff and Students

This KB Article References: Google Groups
This Information is Intended for: Faculty, Staff, Students
Last Updated: October 28, 2020
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Email list groups created in Google Groups are different from the contact groups/labels you can create in your Contacts in Google Mail.

The primary difference is that a contact group/label is for your personal use, while a Google Group can be used by more than one person (because it has its own email address, so it can be shared in the Groups directory and others can send messages to it; contact groups don't have their own email addresses, so no one else can send messages to them).

Thus, if Bob and Mary both need to contact the same group of people, they should request a Google Group Email list rather than creating and managing two separate personal contact groups.

Summary of Differences between Contact Groups and Google Groups

Personal Contact Groups/Labels

  • Only group owner can use
  • You create through Google Contacts
  • Manage through Contacts
  • Can share docs and sites with group, share calendars and invite personal to events; HOWEVER if you change contacts in the group/label, those changes will not apply to existing events, shares
  • Recipients see email in inbox only

Create a personal contact group

Google Group Email List

  • Group managers, members, and/or campus community can use the list (or you can limit that only members or some members can email that group)
  • You must request it (cannot create yourself)
  • You manage through Google Groups
  • Can share with a Group through Google Drive, Google Sites, Calendar, and add to events AND if you change group membership by adding or removing members, those changes do apply to existing events, and shares
    (for example, if you remove people from the group, they will no longer have acess to shared Drive content or be included in events shared/invited through the Google Group)
  • Recipients can see emails in their inbox, through the online Google Groups forum, or both

Request a Google Group

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